The last time I had a really memorable meal was at Salt Water Café in Bandra. It was memorable for so many reasons. I was dining with an old college friend, coincidently the first person I ever spoke to in college, a fantabulous long lazy lunch that stretched into four glorious hours of eating and also because we picked a lovely spot on their terrace later to enjoy our dessert. In fact everytime I’ve dined at Salt Water Café since, I think of him and the hours spent indulging and enjoying food. For me, the best dining companion is one who’s as interested in food as I am, patiently indulges my constant need to photograph everything on the table and has interesting things to teach me about the culinary world. So my dining companion and his excellent ordering skills have created a soft spot for this particular restaurant.
So when Salt Water Café recently opened up at Churchgate I had high expectations of recreating that stunning meal. This time I ended up dining with my sister and though we’ve been to the Bandra outlet before, we both decided to try things we’ve never tried on their menu. The restaurant is lovely. In fact I can’t quite explain it but it just fits in so perfectly with the area. It’s got clear windows for light to stream through (though I went at night when it was brightly lit up) and the entire ambience though identical to its Bandra siling exudes a cosy warm feeling.
The staff is extremely helpful and with the help of my trusty server I managed to sample dishes I wouldn’t normally order or have never tried at the restaurant before.
A round of drinks is always a great way to kick off any meal so my sister had a lovely refreshing ‘beat the heat’ as they call it mock tail ( cucumber based) and I was feeling indulgent so a chocolate martini for myself. This is a very strange move because of I generally avoid chocolate even in a cocktail but this was lovely with an orange-y tangerine like twist and an adorable kitkat stick as garnish.
The prawn ajilo comes enthusiastically recommended by my waiter and I’m happy to try it even though it’s the third ajilo I’m eating this week. It’s one of my favourite dishes and so tricky with the flavour balance so I’m always keen to see who gets it right. As enjoyable as it was I felt this one was too acidic and could use a little less lemon and some more garlic.
A starter I would never usually order was the roasted pepper and camembert crostini, was surprisingly delightful. I wouldn’t order it just because I’m always partial to meat based dishes unless it’s a salad but the roasted peppers on small circular toasted bread with a generous piece of melt in your mouth cheese and a light drizzle of pesto was filling and something I’d be happy to order again.
The polenta crusted chicken served with a spiced chilli dip was tasty with a really crunchy coating on top. It felt like eating a diet version of friend chicken because I couldn’t feel even a drop of oil when usually fried chicken is always glistening. On its own it can be quite a mouthful but it works well with the spicy chilli dip.
My sister beat me to it and ordered exactly what I had in mind with a mushroom risotto with some prawns tossed in. The risotto was lovely mixture of risotto rice, prawn, shitake and button mushrooms and some miso but heavy as expected and after a round of starters nearly impossible to finish.
After much mulling and thought I tried their roasted black pomfret with assorted vegetables and thyme butter. As always, the dish came out looking too pretty to cut into and tasted wonderful. The fish was cooked perfectly and sat on a bed of baby carrots, shallots and some roasted potatoes and was decorated with micro greens. The picture isn’t very clear but trust me when I say it was plated very well. I firmly believe you eat with all your senses and this restaurant really knows how to make their dishes visually appealing. At least the main courses.
I didn’t finish my main course either. With two doggie bags and full tummies we almost skipped dessert but then though that would be criminal, so just waited a while for our food to digest and then picked two delicious desserts. The flourless chocolate cake with caramel crunch ice cream is a delight. Once again very rare for me to enjoy chocolate but I seem to have found a week spot for flourless chocolate cakes. I got about two bites in before it was promptly polished off by the chocolate lover and I have to mention, it’s an absolute joy to have a fun flavoured ice-cream to go along with it other than vanilla.
I asked for the crème brule with fresh fruit. I love the sugary tuile and fruit it’s decorated with but the brule is excellent. Even the crackling on top was as perfect as the dessert. The restaurant also retails some lovely muffin and Danish pastries which are great with a cup of coffee or just to grab on the go.
My meal was lovely and of course I’m coming back soon. We didn’t quite recreate that particular meal but then again we didn’t have hours to kill an since we live in the same house and are in each other’s lives constantly we really didn’t need to catch up either. What I find interesting is that most restaurants have just a few dishes that I enjoy and the rest seem to be rather forgetful. I think by now I’ve sampled quite a bit of the menu and enjoyed it all. However my next visit MUST be a breakfast one. The menu looks tempting and I can’t wait to try their eggs benedict!