MUMBAI TO MANDWA
WORDS NADEZNA SIGANPORIA
PHOTOGRAPHS MAHESH SAGARI
GREAT FROM Mumbai, Pune
GREAT FOR Delicious food in seaside settings
Sun setting over the beautiful ocean, golden rays bouncing off gleaming waters, waves crashing on the beach providing a background score, happy chatter enveloping you. It’s easy to see why the city’s cacophony is but a distant memory at Alibaug – plus you don’t have to travel too far to get here. While local cuisine is always a hot favourite, a few Mumbai restaurants have trickled in, bringing with them trendy spaces and gastronomic experiences that are slowly changing the culinary landscape in this sleepy hamlet.
Don’t waste any time upon arriving at Mandwa Jetty; plonk down at the waterfront Boardwalk by Flamboyante even before you get to the parking lot. Run by the team behind Flamboyante in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade, this open-air, Mediterranean-style restaurant does a great watermelon and creamy feta salad and cheesy potato wedges, with a side of sweeping views of ferry-dotted waters. Don’t miss the Pomfret Peri Peri and the Grilled Fish in lemon butter garlic with capers, both of which are cooked to mouthwatering perfection.
A few feet from Boardwalk, the cheerful Kiki’s Café & Deli is the brainchild of Mumbai-based hotelier and caterer Nitin Mongia. Imagine stepping off the ferry for a hearty breakfast of Truffle Oil Scrambled Eggs), a gigantic Brownie Freakshake and gooey Salted Carmel Tart. But the eclectic café is known for more than its breakfast offerings – try the Spaghetti Aglio Olio with chicken.
For a relaxed, hippie vibe, head to Bohemyan Blue Garden Café, where you can spend the afternoon at a shaded café next to a vegetable garden, which produces some of the eatery’s ingredients. The Guava Juice with Sprite and Mint Lemonade are refreshing accompaniments to its tasty – albeit not authentic – Konkani-style charcoal-grilled chicken or the Prawn Thai Curry, served with rice and a yummy raw papaya salad.
If you like a more hands-on approach to your food, Colaba’s The Table has just the thing – informative workshops at owners Jay Yousuf and Gauri Devidayal’s home in Saswane, which has a small-scale working farm that supplies fresh produce to the restaurant. Adrienne Thadani of Fresh & Local, who is an expert in urban and organic farming, takes you around the farm. Before you know it, you’re wrist-deep in dirt, helping make permaculture beds, transplanting saplings and harvesting micro-greens. All the hard work pays off handsomely when you sit down to a large spread, prepared by the chefs – juicy pieces of barbecued chicken and eggplant hot off the grill, freshly-picked salads and creamy pastas with delicious wines, followed by an excellent apple crumble pie. While the menu changes with each workshop, you can always expect great food and fresh ingredients.
If all this sounds too tedious, round up some friends, rent a bungalow and let the food come to you. Café Zoe’s Kitchen offers weekend delivery of its signature dishes right to your doorstep. Try the half-kilo quiches – the Leeks and Ham one is delicious and can feed a small village, or the Spaghetti in Truffle Butter Sauce, and Smoked Salmon Mousse dip with Melba crisps. Now all you have to do is sit back and revel in the food coma.