Lower Parel To Get A New Tea Bar

February 22, 2011 12:00 pm by

Tea-loving office-goers in Lower Parel will soon have a welcome alternative to the watered down, syrupy sweet beverage served in office canteens. In a week’s time, they will be able to choose between 40 types of teas at Verandah The Cafe, a new “cha bar” inside Raghuvanshi Mills. Proprietor Vishal Manghnani, who was a partner at south Mumbai lounge Oba and Lower Parel nightclub Ra, said he was inspired to open Verandah because he wanted to start something along the lines of Churchgate’s Tea Centre “when it was run by Prahlad Kakkar” [in the 1990s]. At Verandah, traditional varieties of tea like masala chai, Darjeeling, Assam and Earl Grey will be outnumbered by novelty blends from China, Taiwan, America and India. It will offer a baffling selection of herbal teas. For instance, the menu has eight varieties of jasmine tea alone. “The days of Twinings are over,” said Manghnani. “Our focus is on tea variants and presentation.” The variants include artisanal and hand-tied blossoming teas from China and flower-based herbal teas such as chrysanthemum, rose and apple. Manghnani will introduce customers to tea wands, which are wand-shaped aluminum foil infusers packed with tea leaves.

The coffee selection is less expansive at Verandah, where Manghnani has installed a toaster-sized Nespresso machine. It will also serve fresh fruit and veggie combination beverages like apple, carrot and celery and muesli, honey, pear, yoghurt and apple date. Scones are sadly not part of this posh tea salon furnished almost entirely in marble, sourced from Elegant Marbles, a 1,500 sq. ft. Raghuvanshi Mills store inside which the Verandah is located. The food menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and appetisers is entirely vegetarian. “I’ve given up eating meat and follow a diet of tea and simple vegetarian food,” said Manghnani. “I wanted the Verandah menu to reflect my tastes.” Fresh batches of breads, including focaccia and baguettes, and desserts like cheesecake and apple pie will be brought in every day from the Verandah’s bakery and kitchen in Tardeo.

“I wanted to keep the menu really light to suit the cha bar concept,” said Manghnani who fixed the menu with the help of Siddharth Badhavkar, a former chef at Aurus. “It’s really the tea drinking experience that I want to promote.”  A few weeks into the launch, Manghnani hopes to start retailing tea in small quantities (25gms to 50gms), “to get people into the habit of experimenting with different blends”. At a starting price of Rs100 for a cup of tea, and Rs110 for a shot of espresso, the Verandah is not pocket friendly, but Manghnani defends the rates by saying he imports the whole range. On the bright side, Manghnani said, “you also get a plate of petite fours” with your cup.

Verandah The Cafe is slated to open on Tuesday, March 1.