In Mint Condition | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
April 22, 2012

In Mint Condition

The list of hip places to check out this summer just got bigger. Verve gives you a leg-up with six newly arrived bistros on the food block that make indulgence the preferred sin this season…

uber cool
Café Pico

Bringing a wide mix of eclectic global flavours to the Indian palate is the recently launched Café Pico at Le Mill. Tastefully curated by an internationally renowned food design team, the eatery turns a great tasting meal into a 360-degree gourmet food experience.

Brainchild of young entrepreneurs Abhay Jaiswal and Arjun Gadkari, the café aims to serve nutritionally balanced unusual global flavours for widely travelled metro consumers. The menu uses indigenous and locally grown produce in an innovative way to bring delicious food that can be enjoyed every day. Nicole Gonsalves Pereira, head chef, uses environmentally sustainable methods to design seasonal menus inspired by cooking styles from across the world.

While the wide range for a continental breakfast is an ideal way to start the day, the light lunch menu keeps one energetic through the afternoon. An assortment of take-away salads, sandwiches and soups is available for those on the go.

With plans to open similar chain outlets across Mumbai from Goregaon, Tardeo and Phoenix Market City Kurla, Café Pico has become a brand to watch out for.

Quick Bites
Owners and co-founders Abhay Jaiswal and Arjun Gadkari on future plans for Café Pico and other tidbits…

What is the idea behind Café Pico?
Under the Pico brand we will have three kinds of eateries: cafés for a relaxed experience, express cafes for soups and salads and high-end dining spaces. All these will see an integration of dining and retail spaces – a new concept for Indian markets. Cafes will be standalone eatery areas but flexible in the kind of food served there.

Why is it called Pico?
The idea was to choose something that is not fixed to any cuisine so that people don’t come here with a notion of what to expect. Since we are aiming to position ourselves as curators of fine gourmet flavours from around the world we have hand-picked what we feel fits the bill. We don’t want to serve flavours from headline food countries like Italian, Chinese or Thai cuisines, something that is done to death. We wish to serve edibles from say Africa, South America or Argentina. So we didn’t want to take the chance of using a name that comes with any preconceived notions. Also, we wanted a name that was simple, easy to pronounce and text, so Pico it is.

What are your roles in the company?
While Arjun has a natural passion for food, travel, nutrition, design and aesthetics, I have been a management consultant telling clients how to build businesses and create organisations. That’s how our roles split – he creates the products and the design and I look at the ideas that will help build the business. The one thing that binds us is that we both have a passion for food. We have grounded ourselves in between these two strong sides of the business. Sometimes we get much more involved on the other end of the spectrum learning not just from each other but also from the industry outside.

Any challenges so far?
The first obvious challenge is to explain what we mean by the merger of dining and retail to people here. It’s a very common concept abroad but not many people understand it here let alone think it will work. So convincing them is a big task.

Apart from that, there is a huge bias towards flavours that are tried and tested – getting people introduced to new tastes is a big challenge. We know that once they taste these new flavours they like them, but getting them to try it once is tough. We want to build something that is large and can change the way food is perceived in India. Just like the way the perception around coffee has changed in the last decade.

What is the USP of café Pico?
To serve food that doesn’t damage your body. We don’t want to say ‘healthy options’ because the term ‘healthy’ is very misleading. So we rather say that we plan to serve nutritionally balanced global flavours without being too predictable.

Recently Spotted
Jade Jagger
Camellia Panjabi
Anil Kapoor
Suzanne Khan

Le Mill, 17-25 Nandlal Jani Road, Wadi Bunder, Mumbai

coastal delight
Café by the Beach

The sun, sand and the wide expanse of the clear blue ocean ahead! All you have to do is kick back on your deck chair, dig your feet into the sand and enjoy the gourmet European and Mediterranean cuisine at Café by the Beach, at Mumbai’s Chowpatty.

An all-day café, the eatery is covered by a blanket of palm trees taking you away from the hustle-bustle of the concrete jungle evident right outside the main gate. The gazebos with an interesting looking Balinese structure and thatched roof make the perfect cosy corner for a romantic dinner date or an extravagant brunch with the girl gang. Those with the eternal hobo spirit can simply laze on the loungers or the deck beds thoughtfully provided with huge white grandpa umbrellas. And those harrowed by stressful city life can indulge with a special weekly foot spa corner where therapists soothe tired feet and frayed nerves alike.

The menu is hearty, simple and sumptuous. Exotic coolers, colourful margaritas, rich milkshakes and freshly brewed aromatic coffees ensure that there is something for everybody. Early risers get to choose from a variety of Belgian waffles, viennoisseries, cold cuts and cheeses; while lazy mortals can pick from a number of salads, quiches and fresh sandwiches served through the day. For those with a prominent sweet tooth the Tia Maria Tiramisu, Three Chocolate Bavaroise and Lemon Meringue Pie are recommended.

The extensive tea menu – that offers a range of teas from around the world along with freshly baked goodies like cinnamon rolls, muffins and croissants – makes this a good choice to host your next high-tea soirée.

Recently Spotted
Monica Dogra
Nita Ambani
Deepak Parekh
Parmeshwar Godrej

H2O Sports Complex, Chowpatty, Mumbai.

art smart
Café at the NCPA

Inspired by art cafés from across the world is the open-air café at Mumbai’s NCPA – a bistro by the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), India’s premiere art and culture institution. A space for meaningful exchange and a point of convergence where art meets the aficionado, the café is set against the lush expanses of the Open Air Plaza with a peaceful ambience overlooking the Arabian Sea.

The al-fresco eatery transforms into a softly lit haven by sundown even as grass-edged flagstones line the walkway alongside three open-air counters, while the inviting rattan seating is fringed by potted plants and palm fronds that scatter the natural light spilling in. The bistro aims to foster creative inspiration and informal conversation amongst an eclectic mix of people and serves as a platform for presentations, discussions and performances in sync with festivals and events held regularly at the NCPA.

Indian, Thai and American cuisines await patrons, amongst other nibbles and drinks. The menu offers a variety of melt-in-the-mouth kebabs, sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs along with Asian street food like laksa and dim-sum. A variety of coffees, teas, smoothies and mocktails complement the fare.

Recently Spotted
Sunil Padwal
Arzan Khambatta
Madhoo Shah
Lata Patel

NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai.

cheery ambience
Café Zoe

Everything about Café Zoe is bright, beautiful and chirpy. Right from simply lazing around the 4000-square-foot massive area (so rare for Mumbai!) with a book handpicked from their huge bookshelf in the corner to visiting the place at night with friends for your favourite tipple. The ambience and hospitality at Café Zoe wins you over, as well around the large and prominent bar area that bustles with expats and the seriously stylish.

The charming combination of European and industrial décor with exposed brick walls, super-high ceilings and glass windows and skylights that stream in radiant sunlight through the day, gives the place a cheery feel. A deli counter at the entrance offers salads in glass containers (very French; and they come to the table still in the containers!) and desserts that look like a treat.

The menu is simple and highlights European cuisine with special attention to the daily specials served with a twist. The bistro offers a selection of healthy options to choose from for those conscious about calories. And forget about those calories for the scrumptious crème brule, probably the best in the city. For wild nights, pitchers of your preferred cocktails are perfect to wash down your meal.

Recently Spotted
Chetan Bhagat
Poorna Jagannathan
Chef Tetsuya Wakuda
Cyrus Mistry

7-11 Mathuradas Mill Compound, 126, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.

edgy designs
Smoke House Room

Cosily nestled on the third floor of The Crescent Mall overlooking Delhi’s iconic Qutub Minar is the Smoke House Room – a dining space for adventurous epicureans, ready to embark on a splendid sensory and gastronomical journey. Designed as a dining experience for the five senses, the restaurant is elegant and understated where each element is hand-crafted – from the chairs to the fluid partitions to the window frames. Lighting and panelling create long, fluid and horizontal lines to hint at the various forms and textures of the mushroom – the inspiration behind the venue.

The menu offers adventure for the palate– from the ‘Hunter’ and ‘Gatherer’ tasting menus, to modern cuisine to the very exclusive tour de force ‘grand degustation’.  In ‘A Gathering of Mushrooms’ diners tiptoe their way through the undergrowth of a mystical forest, marvelling at the flavour combinations of coffee soil, eight varieties of mushroom and garlic-olive oil pudding. Similarly, a new dimension of decadence is added to the brûlée of foie, where slightly seared foie gras is served with raspberry reduction, foamed brioche, compressed apple and pine-nut chikki that leaves one asking for more.

The bar is well-stocked with an array of drinks – from conundrum cocktails to the finest wines from across the globe. Innovative and ingenious the signature slurps surprise those who love their poison. The expert mixologist uses novel techniques to create unique and unusual cocktails – like the use of liquid nitrogen to serve you frozen margaritas through the night!

Recently Spotted
Karan Johar
Rahul Akerkar
Rohit Bal

Third Floor, The Crescent Mall, Lado Sarai,Mehrauli, New Delhi.

regal splendour
21 Gun Salute

Relive the glorious days of royalty and imperial systems that ruled the country at 21 Gun Salute, an authentic, fine-dining, multi-cuisine restaurant depicting the era of Maharajas and the forgotten glory of the aristocratic past.  Named after the highest regal honour given to any princely state – the salute of 21 guns – the eatery aims to offer similar services to guests in terms of the gourmand cuisine and extravagant ambience. A nostalgic feeling of the era gone by pervades as you enter the grand restaurant which can fit in about 160 guests at one go. For those seeking privacy the elegant private dining area that serves an exclusive array of vintage wines is the perfect solution.

The food culled from some of the most traditional kitchens of the erstwhile Maharajas is masterfully interpreted by the chefs. The restaurant also offers a delectable selection from Oriental and Continental cuisines. And rest assured, the wide variety of wines and cocktails only enhances the unusual royal experience through the night.

Recently Spotted
Maharaja Kumar Ajatshatru Singh
Maharaja Manujendra Shah
Princess Diya Kumari

Sec 29, SCO 35-36, Gurgaon, Haryana.

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