When it comes to long and lazy lunches in the Bay, there’s no place I’d rather spend the good part of an afternoon than in Kala Ghoda.
So I was rather excited to hear about the opening of AKA Bistro – a modish cafe tucked away in the by-lanes of the city’s eclectic art and fashion district…
Designed by the rather hip Bus Ride Studio, the interiors are simple but striking and pay particular attention to symmetric detailing. Its a rather sizeable space (complete with a small boutique upstairs), cheerfully brightened by the flood of natural light streaming in through the large windows flanking the entrance.
Feeling very much like a breath of fresh air in its bustling surrounds, the restaurant is certainly full of potential with a menu ranging from all-day breakfast to small plates and quick-fix options (think one pot meals) to more substantive dishes promising tantalisingly bold flavours.
But having visited twice now, the disappointing verdict is that AKA Bistro fails to deliver on the food front… for the most part anyways.
Tofu tacos were the top pick of what we had at lunch recently – crisp corn tortillas cocooning an inventive mix of gently-fried tofu, shredded cabbage and raw mango laced with a kick of ginger salsa and sriracha mayo.
A quinoa and cauliflower cous cous salad made for a virtuous side. What it lacked for in creativity, it more than made up for with its fresh simplicity, enlivened with a sweet dash of honey-mustard.
But it was all a bit downhill from there.
Our “one pot” vegetable tagine with cous cous came across more as home-cooked veggies smothered in an Indianised arrabbiata-esque sauce. While the sun-dried tomato and hazelnut-stuffed ricotta steak was marred by a poor quality (slightly funky-tasting) cheese peppered with a clumsy seasoning.
We skipped dessert based on my previous experience popping in for coffee and dessert.
To be sure, the coffee is satisfyingly strong (it’s Illy after all), while there’s not too far wrong one can go with a Nutella and banana crêpe…
However, we couldn’t help but compare the slightly stodgy buckwheat pancake a tad unfavourably against its formidably-perfect counterpart at Suzette.
In fact the shortcoming epitomises the main problem AKA Bistro would seem to face – one of amateurish execution, which renders a home-cooked feel (without the corresponding comfort factor) to otherwise interesting or even classic flavour combinations. Hopefully its a sign of teething issues that can be ironed out in the weeks to come, as the welcoming vibe is definitely one we’d like to return to.
AKA Kala Ghoda, 123, Nagindas Master Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort. Contact 9029293968.
… If you’re wondering how we satisfied our sweet cravings after (I’m never one to say no to dessert after all), we walked over to the cosy Nutracker cafe where this proceeded to happen (over a tall glass of cold coffee no less!).
View this post on Instagram
Waffling through the weekend at cosy @TheNutcrackerMumbai 😍😍😍 The Belgian All-In-Waffle here is definitely the stuff of a foodie's dreams featuring ALL the sweet trimmings from vanilla ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce to salted pretzel sticks, roasted almonds, chocolate cigars *and* chocolate chip cookie chunks too! Might go so far as to say it's one of the best waffles I've had in Bombay yet 💯 #EveryDayImWafflin' #WafflinWafflin #BecauseCaloriesDontCountOnTheWeekend #TheFoodieDiariesBombay
The coffee, waffles and wholegrain toasties at Kala Ghoda are always a good shout if you’re in the area as well, featuring prominently in my coffee guide to the city.
While the charming Sancha Tea Boutique next door is a must-visit for tea lovers.
View this post on Instagram
Earlier this week, tea tastings @SanchaTeaBoutique! A #TeaTour of Bombay is now on the blog… From aromatic Malabari vanilla coconut to wild rose green tea infusions, follow the link in the bio to explore the city's vibrant tea culture! #ChaiTime #TeaDiaries #TheFoodieDiariesBombay
And if you’re looking for something to actually do in the area (rather than just eat or shop), wander into the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue next time you’re passing by – the iconic fairy-blue structure is unmissable and shields an ethereal grace and serenity within!
What are your favourite spots to visit in Kala Ghoda?