New Menu Review: Salt Water Café

April 19, 2010 5:50 pm by

The tenderloin burger is one of the additions to Salt Water CafÃ's impressive new menu.

Looking at the new menu of Bandra’s Salt Water Café, we found ourselves remembering The Sound of Music, the classic film from 1965 starring Julie Andrews. At one point in the film, Andrews says, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” While revamping their menu, Salt Water Café has closed the door on items such as the delicate and delicious prawn and tender coconut water soup. But the windows that they’ve opened are likely to make you recall another scene from The Sound of Music, the one where Andrews sings “My Favourite Things”.

Salt Water Café’s management has paid heed to our whines and expanded their breakfast menu as well as extended the hours during which their excellent eggs and pancakes are served. Now you can get two eggs, sunny side up, a Spanish omelette or any of the eggy breakfast preparations until 4pm. Fans of the apple and buttermilk muffin may release their held breaths; it’s still on the menu. We’re also happy to report that much of the old drinks menu has been retained, which means that their delicious plum mocktail and the watermelon caipirojca are both still there to soothe and sozzle you.

The major changes are in the rest of the food menu although some of the items will still be familiar to those who frequent restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani’s other establishments The Tasting Room and delItalia. The chef’s hat is clearly being doffed to the kind of fusion food that Indigo introduced to Mumbai. There’s a kokum sorbet with garam masala, a tenderloin burger with a tomato and raisin chutney, and soba noodles are included under pasta.

Inspired as it might be, Salt Water Café’s menu is original and the dishes we tasted were superbly executed. The John Dory was cooked perfectly so that every bite of the fish was juicy, and perfectly complemented by a colourful bed of veggies. The pepper-crusted chicken with porcini mushrooms looked less fancy but was just as flavourful, the creaminess of the porcinis and the sting of pepper combining to perk up the humble white meat. Our new favourite on the menu, however, might well be the pao stuffed with roast lamb and raspberry vindaloo. It’s spicy, with a hint of sweet and just what a non-vegetarian version of a vada pao should be.

Among the other things that remain the same are the friendly staff, the inordinate time it takes to place and be served an order, and the lighter wallet with which one leaves the place. Comfort food and an amiable ambience come at a hefty price on Chapel Road but Bandra doesn’t seem to be complaining. As we overheard a guest on a nearby table, “They make me happy to pay for baingan (aubergine). That’s an achievement.”

A meal for two, with alcohol, costs approximately Rs 3,000.

Deepanjana Pal is a journalist and the author of The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma. She is currently developing a keen appreciation for lazy brunches and coffee breaks in Bandra while working on her freelance assignments.