Well Café [Auroville]

We will go anywhere for food. Seriously, anywhere.

That explains why we took an hour long ride in the hot sun, after a scuba session (❤) to reach the forest region of Auroville. Hidden away in the interiors of Auroville, you will find many a treasure and Well Café is one such treasure.

Wilderness is that word that defines this place the best.

IMG_20170403_153611

IMG_20170403_153613

Why we recommend this café?

Firstly, the food is insanely good. It is simple yet amazing. The café specialises in Mediterranian cuisine with lots of hummus, falafel, salads and more. The options are limited and the food is prepared fresh by the local women.

Secondly, the ambience is amazing. An open garden café with random chairs strewn under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. You will find crafts made from recycled paper hanging from above. Chirping birds, a dog or two, and a few really colourful insects (we did not know God made these, this colourful too) are your company. But don’t let this worry you, sometimes, such an ambience can do wonders!

IMG_20170403_154109

Thirdly, the café and the entire WELL centre (that includes a handmade paper shop, art gallery, etc. ) is managed by women for the empowerment of women in this area. This place gives you a peek into their lives. Spend some time and chat with the locals and they will share their stories with you! There also is a homestay next door and in case, living amidst a thick cover and with locals is your calling, you should definitely check out this place.

Fourthly, this café also hosts musical nights and other events from time to time. The ambience is then transformed to one of those mid forest camping-party style places which makes it even more awesome.

IMG_20170403_153130_918

We tried the Mint Cooler here which was a bit too sweet for us but was minty none the less. What we absolutely love and still lust over are the Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette and the Eggplant & Labane Baguette. 

First I burned my tongue fighting over the super hot vegetable omelette and now I am drooling all over my laptop at the thought it. This cannot be good!

Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette – The vegetable omelette was delicious on its own. Thick and so well spiced, it had onions, coriander and more. The curd cheese that was spread over the crispy pieces of bread was heavenly. Yup, we did lick it off the plate! If only we could fill like a jar or a room with it and bring it back to Mumbai!! These were served with three salads, a beetroot and cream based, a mixture of cabbage, beetroot, carrots & more and another one which had a little tart due to the addition of vinegarette.

1
Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette

Eggplant & Labane Baguette – Labane or curd cheese spread generously over the crispy bread which was then topped with smoked eggplant slices. This was another delight! This was also served with salads, with a pepper spiced cauliflower based salad being one of the portions served.

2
Eggplant & Labane Baguette

Well Café is a place you would enjoy as much for the food and courteous, smiling service as you would for the peaceful escape it provides from all forms of chaos!

If you are ever in Auroville, this is definitely a place you should check out!

P.S.: Trust Google Maps, even if you feel it has lost its mind! It will bring you here.

IMG_20170403_144856

Well Cafe [Auroville] – Google Maps

Well Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Artika Café [White Town, Pondicherry]

First look at Artika Café and you feel like you are in a slow motion video of some lost town. Time probably, literally stops here! Artika Café is one of the best places to laze around in Pondicherry.

2

It is essentially a black and white shot, with a random table or two adding the colours. Dry leaves and white bougainvillaea decorate the courtyard, giving the feel of a never-ending autumn. The quietness here can be the brand ambassador for Pondicherry’s ‘Peaceful Pondicherry’ tagline! This peacefulness is what drew us here and kept us here and what made us never want to get up and leave!

6

A narrow and beautiful shrub covered path led us to the graffiti and mural covered courtyard. There are a few tables in the open courtyard and a few lounge chairs in the shade covered area to just stretch and relax.

There are a few tables inside as well, in an old, pretty worn-out house but we chose outside, obviously!

There is an art gallery and a shop inside, which sort of seems like the thing in Pondicherry!

7

8

1

Once we had taken in the amazing surroundings and rested for a few good minutes, we asked for the menu. The menu is another surprise. They give you a big handmade paperboard menu that is hand written – art all the way, we say! There are quite a few breakfast options, sandwiches, baguettes and crepes to pick from. They have some really good combos to pick from. The food ranges from affordable to average pricey but one can easily find something according to their budget. Another good thing here is the free WiFi for as long as you want. The service is prompt and super friendly.

4

We had a Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich. The aroma of the ratatouille being prepared made our mouths water! The sandwich was delicious, non-spicy ratatouille with lots of veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and more with lots of mozzarella cheese! It was lip-smacking!

3
Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich

We also had Mango Lassi which was more like thick mango pulp smoothie! It was very refreshing and filling!

9
Mango Lassi & Fresh Lime Juice

Artika Café and Gallery should be where you head to, to chill on a hot summer day or to get your work done in peace. And if nothing, a few hours of peace don’t hurt!

We had an amazing time at Artika Café, do tell us about yours!!

Artika Café [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Artika Cafe Gallery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kasha Ki Aasha [White Town, Pondicherry]

2

When you first enter this house, that is what you will feel, you have entered someone’s really well-kempt home and there is no way that a café exists here. But worry not, pass by those rooms with handicrafts and khadi kurtas and bags and you reach the centre of the home which again reinforces your belief that this is someone’s home and you are trespassing!

With a small central verandah with lots of flowers, a metallic statue of the dancing God and a few females going about their business, it has got to be a home, no? Well, it is, but it is a home converted to an art gallery and also houses a café upstairs.

IMG_20170402_140702

We had similar apprehensions that said maybe, we are at the wrong place or maybe, there is another entrance but the women near the stairs smiled and told us that the café is upstairs. Breathing a sigh of relief that we have to be hungry no longer, we climbed up the narrow staircase to come face to face with the rooftop café and then… and then we smiled!

6

Kasha Ki Aasha is a dream we all had but never got. A terrace with cane furniture to laze on, lots of plants to keep it cool…. a space where we could relax and spend all our days and evenings and maybe even nights! Away from the chaos and cacophony, one can chill and be at peace at this café for as long as they want. And delicious homecooked food doesn’t hurt either!

5

10

We spent hours here, hogging and just sitting, doing nothing, at some points not even talking…just being quiet! That is the type of place Kasha Ki Aasha is. And if you love such places, you will love this one!

The women who run the café come upstairs from time to time to ask for any order or you can go to the stairs and holler for someone but apart from that, they let you be. No one keeps poking asking if you want anything more, something we Mumbaikars, or for that matter, metro-dwellers are not used to!

The café is open only until 7 p.m. which is really sad considering the ambience is perfect for spending your evenings!!

1

 

Coming to the food, they have a small menu and also serve some specials apart from the menu. The quantity is decent and one cannot help feel that the prices are a little high. That kept aside, the food is delicious! Their European and Thai thalis are hot selling and pretty famous! They also serve beer and wine. We stuck to mostly Indian options or Indian with a twist. Here’s what we tried and loved:

Traditional Indian Breakfast – Soft steamed idlis with a bowl of sambhar and a groundnut and coconut based chutney.  The sambhar is non-spicy but had the perfect maa-ke-hath ka taste! The quantity of sambhar is a little less and you may have to ask for another bowl. The chutney is delicious too, with no hint of spiciness.

7
Traditional Indian Breakfast

Chappati & Dal Fry – Two large and soft chappatis with slightly crispy centres and a small bowl of dal. Dal again was non-spicy but yummy with lots of onions and ginger. This preparation is again served with the chutney.

8
Chappati & Dal Fry

Pizza Dosai – Before we tell you what it is, we will tell you that it is delicious!! Two plain uttapams with lots of veggies on top – chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and more. This is then finished with lots of cheese! It tastes very slightly sweet owing to the tomato based sauce used to mix the veggies and the batter but the combination overall is amazing and something different!

9
Pizza Dosai

Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!

3
Onion Dosai with Chutney

Black Bean Burger – The black bean burger has two black bean based cutlets with a slightly charred and smokey flavour, topped with tomatoes, capsicum and onions. It is served with a cold macaroni salad that is spiced with black pepper and is delicious. Each of these can be had separately and the combination is lip-smacking.

4
Black Bean Burger

All in all, Kasha Ki Aasha is an amazing place with good food and should find its way to your list of places to visit in Pondicherry!

Kasha Ki Aasha [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Kasha Ki Aasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The American Joint [Borivali]

We are among the folks who were very happy when we saw that The American Joint has popped up so close to home. Every time we passed by the junction that is now home to The American Joint, we would smile.

We had been to the BKC outlet (read more here) earlier and had loved every bite we had there. So when we visited the Borivali Outlet, our expectations were sky-rocketing.

The outlet is huge in comparison to the BKC one. They have two levels of seating, the lower level with a few tables and a sprawling upper floor.

The interiors are classy and stylish and definitely make you stop and read/see again. Mainly done in greens and whites, the place has a good ambience and is quite spacious. You may miss this, so let us tell you, there is a small passageway on the first floor with tables to accommodate 2 and a maximum of three people, hidden away. We love the tables near the huge glass windows that give a good view of the road and park outside.

The service is pretty prompt and friendly. The menu is quite spread out compared to their BKC outlet and that is because they have introduced a whole new range of dishes, burgers, pizza, soups, salads among others, while also keeping their hot selling chef specials from the earlier menu.

1

Here is what we tried at our meal at The American Joint:

Hummus to You  The hummus was perfect  – soft, well spiced with chilli powder and coriander and had a little tang. It was served with slightly crisp whole wheat pita bread pieces. The pita was really light and the dish was tasty overall.

2
Hummus to You

Mountain O’ Nachos  Crisp tortilla chips with lots of veggies and loaded with Queso cheese sauce. It had olives, tomatoes, jalapenos that added a much-needed spiciness along with charro beans. We were served a smaller tasting portion but the actual portion size is filling to even look at!

3
Mountain O’ Nacho

Garlic Bomb Cheese Bread ⇔ Small bread buns with sharp garlic flavour. Served on a bed of sizzling hot tomato and veggies sauce. It was spiced with a lot of chilli flakes and topped with lots of cheese. The cheese was the right amount of stretchy and chewy. This is something you will definitely not want to share. And the aroma was equally mouth watering. Delicious!

5
Garlic Bomb Cheese Bread

Tikka Fries ⇔ Thick, crispy fries served with a gravy. But they did not do justice to the tikka gravy. It was supposed to be spicy but it lacked any strong flavours. It was just a creamy tomato based paste. Did not do justice to the name or description. Also, the fries, though were crispy, could have been much better. They were essentially hollow! 😦

8
Tikka Fries

We called for Pineapple Julep which was a delicious blend of juices. It was tangy-sweet and one would not be able to point at a single flavour but will definitely smile at every sip! Mint and lemon made it refreshing!

6
Pineapple Julep

We called for a few shakes as well. The shakes are very light. Going by the name, if at all you are assuming them to be freak-shakes of sorts, then you will be in for a huge disappointment. But if you are looking for light, flavorful shakes, then go on and order one of these! Though be warned, you will not find even the supposedly chunky shakes to be chunky. We would be disappointed too but were not coz the lighter version was welcome this time around. Another time? That is another story.

Khaike Paan Banaras Wala ⇔ This was the best of the shakes. Refreshing and light. It was not overly sweet and had the perfect paan flavour. Just imagine a delicious meetha paan crushed with milk to make a shake. The shake had everything, from beetle leaves to fennel seeds to those yummy cherries. Much recommended.

7
Khaike Paan Banaras Wala

Cookies and Creme Oreo Shake and Nutella Be Chillin’ Shake were light and flavourful and as mentioned, lacked any chunky bits of oreo or frozen Nutella.

10
Cookies and Creme Oreo Shake and Nutella Be Chillin’ Shake
 Overall Experience: We liked the food overall, except a few hiccups. The biggest disappointment was that we did not get quite a few items from the menu. From their entire dessert range, only the Ferrero Nutella Mousse was available. From the shakes and mocktails too quite, a few weren’t available.

Food 🙂

Ambience 🙂

Service 🙂

The Battle: The ambience and those juices and paan shake in your hand, won’t let you wanna leave. It is so perfect for a good time with friends and family.

The American Joint – Google Maps

The American Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Garde Manger Café [Vile Parle]

Keeper of Food

That is what Garde Manger means. And we would like to modify it for this café as – keeper of awesome, delicious and healthy food!

Garde Manger Café is a fairly new addition to the healthy-eating clan. Located in Vile Parle, this café is small, cute and cozy. The focus on clean, fresh and green eating is also apparent from their green and brown decor, small potted plants here and there and the vibe this place gives. The have an indoor AC section and an outdoor open air one which was, as usual, our favourite.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The interiors are comfortable and warm. A counter has a display of various mushrooms in jars, coffee beans in bottles, a few odd knick-knacks and more. The service is friendly and prompt.  The menu has a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads as also pasta and smoothies. They have a range of healthy desserts which also include some gluten free ones.

We started with Roasted Tomatoes and  Bocconcini Sandwich. Soft multigrain bread with a non-spicy green chutney, tomatoes, lettuce and lots of bocconcini cheese. Bocconcini is a type of Mozerella cheese. It added a delicate creamy and savoury flavour to the sandwich. The green chutney/sauce and cheese added good flavours to the sandwich which was otherwise basic. Liked it!

8
Roasted Tomatoes and Bocconcini Sandwich

From the specials, we called for Stuffed Multigrain Paratha. 8 triangular pieces of parathas that were made semi-crispy. Stuffed with a mixture of loads of veggies or as they call it vegetable keema considering the vegetable sizes were really small. The mixture/keema was well spiced and herbed. The paratha was served with a small bowl of curd and green chutney and pickle. It made for a perfect heavy and healthy breakfast!

10
Multigrain Stuffed Paratha
9
Cold Coffee

Cold Coffee which is not mentioned on the menu was the no-nonsense coffee with a little coffee powder dusted on top.

We also called for a Fresh Fruit Popsicle and got an orange popsicle. It was the perfect end to out breakfast! The pieces of orange in the popsicle made for the perfect juicy candy!

11
Fresh Fruit Popsicle

The food may not blow you away but is totally worth every penny and is in no doubt delicious. So yes, the next time you wanna go healthy and vegan, Garde Manger is one of the places to look at.

Garde Manger Café – Google Maps

Garde Manger Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican Express [Pali Hill, Bandra]

Mexcellent!

That is the word we are going to use to describe Mexican Express.

Hidden away in a quiet lane in Pali Hill, Mexican Express has made quite a name for itself when it comes to authentic Mexican delights served fresh and quick. Ankit Shah, the owner, came up with the idea of making Mexican food available to people after he noticed a dearth of options in Mumbai. They did a number of events, big and small (Bandra Wine Festival being the latest), and we are sure you have tasted their lip-smacking food at one of these! And if you haven’t, then now is your chance to relish some of that taco-shako at Mexican Express.

9

The space is a cozy and peaceful one with comfortable and colourful seating. The tripod shaped tables with tops that look like a colourful Sombrero caught our attention. They have a collection of books and games and a perfect ambience to sit down with some churros and kick-ass at Monopoly! Soft colour tones keep the place well lit and upbeat tunes keep you going. Walls are lined with tempting pictures of food that make you wanna hog it all now!

An all vegetarian place, the menu is pretty concise and hence does not leave you confused. You can pick from the basics – nachos and salads or burritos, quesadillas and tacos. For the desserts, they have Churros and Nutella Quesadilla ❤

The sauces and fillings are all made in-house daily and boy are they delicious! Get a drop of the Guacamole on your tongue and we dare you to not go for just a little more!

We started with their hard-shell tacos. Black beans and corn is the hot selling option. We tried that and another one with a filing of mushrooms. The taco chips were crisp and fresh and were overflowing with salsa, the stuffing, sauces and sour cream! So delicious! Apart for the lip-smacking flavours, what makes you happy is the freshness of the ingredients! It is just perfect!

 

2
Tacos

 

 

Looking at our messy misery as we kept licking those dripping sauces off our fingers, Ankit was kind enough to tell us the correct way to eat a taco. Hold one of those in your hands horizontally, like you would hold a sandwich, press it a little (yes, it will crack) and bite into it. This is a way to ensure minimal mess! Well, we were well past the precautions, so we enjoyed the rest of the fillings with our hands. Mexican food eaten Indian style 😉

Then came the burrito bowl or dare we say, happiness bowl? Loaded is the word. Brown rice, beans – black and pinto beans, veggies, pico de gallo, salsa, sauces, sour cream, spicy guacamole and topped with crispy tortilla chips! So delicious, we kept stuffing our mouth with these and forgot to talk for the entire while!

 

7
Burrito Bowl

 

Our meal ended on an amazingly sweet note with Churros and Chocolate sauce 🙂 ❤

The churros were perfect, soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. The amazing cinnamon aroma hit us first as they made their way to our table! 6 pieces of goodness and that sinful chocolate sauce! One of the best churros we have had! You gotta try these!

 

11
Churros with Chocolate Sauce

 

Overall Experience: Will it be too cheesy if we say mexiating! Ah well, we said it, ‘coz it was indeed satiating! Delicious pocket-friendly prices and good quantity with a super peaceful ambience.

Food 🙂

Ambience 🙂

Service 🙂

The Battle: My partner stole a churro. He has a black eye as a return gift!  

P.S.: Mexican Express shares the retails space with Cool Story, that serves some kick-ass chilled beverages. Perfect combination going around, we say!

Also, they deliver in and around Bandra and BKC, so you can always order in!

Mexican Express – Google Maps

Mexican Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato