The newly opened BAD Cafe stands cosseted in the leafy by-lanes of Bandra. Meticulously clad with 25,992 recycled PVC electrical pipes, the monochrome-chic structure oddly enough, in complete harmony with the mix of heritage homes in the neighbourhood.
Spread over three levels, this is a multi-purpose venue dedicated to the soul (represented by the cafe area), the body (through yoga and meditation studios) and the mind (a library and community centre grace the rooftop area, positioned as a medium of culture exchange). You’ll also find a herb garden here and exhibitions championing local craftsmen and artists.
In this minimalist space, everything denotes a sense of purpose, from the waves of PVC pipes outside (designed to resemble the perforated nature of human skin, supporting a living, breathing relationship between the inside and outside) to the hand-made concrete lamps and wrought-iron cutlery.
Co-founded by the siblings Amit and Bhavna Dhanani, BAD is a culmination of their stories, experiences and adventures living in Spain and travelling the world-over.
At first glance, everything seems black and white, peppered with shades of grey. Take a closer look and you’ll find subtle bursts of colour, a reminder that things are never as they seem.
We’d popped in for breakfast on one of those idyllically lazy Sunday mornings. Perched by the windows, we soon found ourselves lost in the lull of the flamenco chill playing softly in the background… waking up with an orange “mystery lemonade”, which revealed coffee-infused notes upon sipping.
That exciting surprise factor continued into breakfast, with each dish plated beautifully in an assembly of vibrant flavours, colours and textures.
The remolacha (beetroot) pancake was served with sliced oranges, flaked almonds and a dollop of cream cheese.
The Spanish tortilla was dressed simply but artfully with aioli and bravas, that perfectly complemented its delightfully smooth yet fluffy texture.
While tapas-centric, the menu also features an eclectic mix of other dishes inspired by Amit’s journeys from further afield.
Finding it impossible to choose between the enticing hummus selection (which we’d heard SO much about), we made the sensible decision of springing for all four – traditional; black-eyed peas; bunt butter pistachio (my favourite of the lot, even if it was a tad too salty) and mung bean! Deliciously creamy yet light, we loved discovering each flavour in turn as we scooped the hummus out on to pillowy bites of pita bread and crisp lavash.
But the real draw for us here was the coffee – I’m declaring it the best I’ve had in Bombay, and updating my Coffee Guide promptly after writing this post.
You can find Ristretto here (a stronger, more aromatic alternative to espresso); homemade Turkish blends; Aussie-style flat whites; and even a cafe bonbon (pictured below) fashioned after Valencia’s café bombón – espresso served with sweetened condensed milk that sinks through the coffee to create the contrasting bands.
On the day I found myself opting for a “Yang Over Yin” – a warm, mint-flavoured cold coffee that was deliciously like nothing that I’ve ever had before. Upon my badgering, Dhanani revealed that his trick is to froth the cold coffee as you would a cappuccino, to leave a warm minty foam on top!
With plans to introduce avante-garde brewing methods and to continue experimenting with layered coffee concoctions, he remains determined to bring a difference to the city’s coffee culture, with inviting options a-plenty to change mindsets and encourage even the most unchanging of coffee drinkers to step out of their comfort zones.
So I don’t doubt that I’ll be back for my next caffeine fix soon, and to try one of the yoga sessions too, led by his sister Bhavna. I can’t fancy a better way to escape, relax and recharge.
BAD, 22G, Kapadia House, New Kantwadi Road, Off Perry Cross Road, Pali Hill, Bandra West