Going out in Bombay is a balancing act between the familiar comfort of old favourites and the novelty appeal of the exploding additions to the city’s cacophony of restaurants.
If I’m being honest though – over time I’ve learned to exercise a bit of caution when it comes to new openings, my jaded palate overrun by the amateurish execution and gimmicky strategies driving these fledgling establishments.
So rather than adding to the hype (often fuelled by a dodgy barter system with the “food-blogger” brigade), here’s a more nuanced take on the city’s latest spots (updated regularly), highlighting the hits, the misses and all the “meh” moments in between!
Opened in 2018
Stocking 300 wine labels – sourced from over 45 regions across the world – The Wine Rack adds a trendy oomph to the otherwise mainstream lineup of eateries on High Street Phoenix.
The menu has been curated by former Masterchef Australia contestant and celebrated Goa-based restaurateur, Sarah Todd, and so you can rightly expect good things to eat here. Her globally-inspired spin on Indian favourites includes the likes of momos stuffed with shiitake mushrooms; burrata paired with a crisp pepper naan; and sun-dried tomato kulcha… That’s a delicious cross between a leavened flatbread and a mini pizza slice festooned with crumbled bocconcino and Sriracha hummus!
Sadly in our case, the night is betrayed by shoddy service and an approach to management that’s veering on unprofessional, with their priority clearly being to fill out each and every table – even at the cost of other diners’ experience. The end result? Despite the creamily rich chocolate chilli mousse we order for dessert, we ultimately walk out with a sour taste in our mouth (our ears worse for wear too, courtesy the near-deafening effects of the DJ on decks).
Wine Rack, Ground floor, Highstreet Phoenix, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Upping the ante on Mumbai’s classic combination of cutting chai and bun maska, is the Malaysian take on milky tea and buns at Papparoti. Having originated in Southeast Asia the cult chain now has branches from Canada to Dubai, so I suppose that it was only a matter of time before it made it’s way to Kamala Mills.
While the interiors are not much to write home about (and the pesky swarm of mosquitos notwithstanding), the buns are the epitome of bliss – the crisp, golden dome cocooning pillowy folds of warm bread baptised with mountains of butter. The original remains my top choice (dunked in sweet tea creamily loaded with condensed milk!), although there are plenty of equally enticing flavours which seem worth a try, particularly the lotus biscuit bun crowned with cookie crumbs!
Papparoti, Gate 4, Ground Floor, “Trade View”, Oasis Reality, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
Plate & Pint
With its cosy booths and comfort-driven menu, Plate & Pint is a welcome neighbourhood addition to Breach Candy in South Bombay. Monaz Irani, the affable 23-year chef in charge, trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London before taking over the space formerly run by her mother as Tulips Restaurant and Delifresh Bakery for 12 years.
Under her direction, the convivial space majors in all day breakfast favourites (from Nutella stuffed French toast to s’mores pancakes…) along with a host of distractingly-scrummy bar snacks and the like. Think onion rings , toasties sizzling with Sriracha and the like!
Plate & Pint, 106, Dhunabad, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Kemps Corner
Opened by the amicable folks behind our favourite local, Woodside Inn, is this nostalgic tribute to the rich tapestry of cuisines and cultures which have shaped Bombay through the decades.
The interiors are thoughtfully framed by retro touches, while cocktails are a suitably compelling affair laced with classic Indian twists (top picks include the Tamarind Sour and Spice Bazaar G&T). As for the dishes – inspirations run from street foods we’ve grown up scoffing, to recipes passed down through generations of the different communities which have built Bombay, manifesting in a melting pot of Goan, Coastal, Sindhi, Parsi, Gujarati and of course, staunchly Maharashtrian influences!
Bottom-line: visit for simple fuss-free dishes which deliver an endearingly familiar sense of satisfaction.
Opposite Regal Cinema, Indian Mercantile Mansion, Regal Circle, Madame Cama Road, Colaba | 022 6944 4124
Kitchen Garden BKC
The newest outpost of the wonderfully-vibrant Bandra-based Kitchen Garden, is a sun-filled space brimming with jungle plants and farm-fresh organic produce. You’ll find their grab-and-go fridge well-stocked with vibrant salads and grain pots, multigrain sandwiches and cold-pressed juices. Or you could choose from the extensive selection of ingredients available behind the salad bar to make your own combination, finding room afterwards, for the truly excellent selection of light(ish!) desserts.
Bottom-line: healthy (for the most part!), happy eating worth popping in for if you’re passing by through BKC.
Ground floor, North Avenue, Maker Maxity, Bandra Kurla Complex
Translating to “race horse” in Japanese, Keiba takes over from Olive Bar & Kitchen at Mahalaxmi Race Course. The well-intentioned menu draws from China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, offering sushi and sashimi, dim sum and gyoza, curries, grills and more.
Disappointingly though, it delivers an under-powering experience lacking any memorable trace of magic (to the point of being entirely forgettable). Of course, to level with you – you’re really here for the buzzy vibe anyways, which bounces off the breezy al fresco setting to the jaunty soundtrack spun by the DJ!
Bottom-line: While nothing to complain about, dinner here isn’t a particularly remarkable affair. Go instead for drinks, dancing and a vivacious night on the town.
Royal Western India Turf Club, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai | 074000 66610
Then there are the openings from late(ish) last year that I only managed to visit recently…
The Quarter at The Royal Opera House
Residing within The Royal Opera House, The Quarter is a four-in-one venue spanning an al fresco restaurant (inspired by the Creole cuisine of New Orleans); a jazz bar and music club; a wine and mozzarella bar (the first of it’s kind in the city); and an all-day café.
At the time of writing I’ve only had a chance to visit the latter, finding – somewhat anti-climatically – that the food is not as transporting an experience as the awe-inspiringly grand surrounds. Divided into salads, pastas and flat-breads – the menu manifests in a mixed bag of a few well-constructed plates and other underwhelming misses (let down by wearisome combination of textures)…
And yet I’d say that this airily-bright bistro is well worth a visit on an idyll afternoon, when you can count on a cuppa coffee and a Tres Leche (a densely-layered milk cake) as reason to peacefully linger a while longer, as you soak in the charming character.
The Quarter, Royal Opera House, Pandit Paluskar Marg.
Tasse de Thé
Parisian chic meets Victorian charm at this arched café in Fort. The pretty-in-pastel palette sets a mood-lifting tone from the moment you walk in, with the interiors lending themselves quite effortlessly to an #IHaveThisThingWithFloors moment.
Expect over 300 types of tea – ranging from Moroccan mint (a clear favourite) and Taiwanese Oolong, to blends expertly curated by the tea master/ owner, Jiten Seth. As for for the food, I’d recommend sticking to small plates and desserts – the boisterously buttery chilli cheese toast and intensely-rich slab of Ecuadorean dark chocolate (aptly titled “Quite Playing Games With My Heart”) particularly stand out!
Ground floor, Islam Building, Veer Nariman Street, Fort | 022 6237 3727
The newest from the team behind The Bombay Canteen, is a paean to Goan-Portuguese culture, styled after the old-world homes of Goa. Wicker chairs, potted plants and the striking azulejos tiles set an inviting scene, as you tuck into quarter plates (packed full of flavour) and curries, braced with beachy cocktails.
Simply put, the world is a cheerier place with the understated pleasures of Pedro’s G&T (infused with blue pea flowers and an Indian spice mix), not to mention a basket of freshly-baked poee – fabulously fluffy pitta-style sourdough slathered with flavoured butters (including a cheesy black pepper one!).
Unit No 2, Plot No C-68, Jet Airways – Godrej BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex | 022 2653 4700
I’ll be updating this Guide regularly so do check back for the latest reviews & news. In the meanwhile you can sign up to my monthly newsletter here; and of course – browse through previous features & guides to Bombay here.