I’ve wanted to enjoy a meal at Salt Water Cafe since the longest time. These days, I eat out more often in town than in Bandra so it was inevitable that my first tryst with SWC should happen at Churchgate. It’s next to Tea Centre and Stadium, close to the railway station. And that particular lane is choc-a-bloc with restaurants, many of whom have lost their sheen over the years. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with SWC.
The ambience is truly a class apart – seating arrangements, lighting, the colour combination of beige and brown – everything works to create the perfect aura of fine-dining elegance. The only drawback is that the upstairs seating isn’t functional. We found a table next to the bar and although it was close to the serving table, that didn’t prove to be a disturbance.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘cafe’ in its name. The menu isn’t very exhaustive but it’s varied enough, with a good collection of healthful Italian and European soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and a few mains and desserts. You could compare it to The Pantry at Kala Ghoda, both in terms of price and choice of items. We went for the tomato lemongrass broth, fresh mozzarella and tomato grilled panini and hot chocolate fondant for dessert.
Soup: Tomato lemongrass broth
The soup was infused excellently with the fragrance and flavours of lemongrass, though not overwhelmingly so. I was reminded of my days in Thailand, where lemongrass dominated nearly every other dish. The consistency was just perfect and we opted to have it served with a delicious mozzarella tortellini – a little dumpling that resembled a dimsum somewhat but had some mozzarella encased within the covering. We were also served a bread basket and the warm breads and white butter went perfectly with the soup.
Sandwich: Fresh mozzarella and tomato grilled panini
Yes, mozzarella is a repeating motif in all the vegetarian options. And I’m not complaining at all. The cheese was fresh and perfectly textured. Along with the copious amounts of mozzarella were slices of tomato and some mint for added freshness. There were two pieces in one serving, ideal for sharing. The sandwich was served with French fries (which I ate sparingly) and an extremely delicious mustard cabbage slaw. My friend didn’t care for it though, as she does not enjoy the taste of mustard.
Dessert: Hot chocolate fondant
Don’t even look at the other options on the menu and I don’t care if I’m being unfair to them. The hot chocolate fondant was an absolute delight – a round chocolate pastry with hot chocolate fondant inside and served with a generous scoop of mint and chocolate chip ice-cream. The portion is large and two people would be completely satisfied with one serving. I only wish there was more of the fondant – only one side of the pastry burst with its chocolatey goodness.
I had an Old Monk with coke and they served it with a slice of lemon which I really liked. SWC has a long bar menu with an excellent collection of wines. I might have a chenin blanc on another visit. They also have an ongoing offer where for Rs 850+, you can have unlimited select spirits and cocktails. But there are no happy hours.
The bill came to less than Rs 750 per head – quite worth it though if we’d had larger appetites, the damages would be much higher!
It was a very light and pleasurable luncheon indeed although I might attribute the lightness to the fact that we didn’t try any of the mains.
Featured image courtesy: http://www.saltwatercafe.in
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