Lower Parel, Mumbai and Todi Mills in particular have become home to the city’s new hot spots. Restaurants, bars or hangouts including Indigo deli, Moshe’s and California Pizza Kitchen are in the area. With Blue Frog and Busaba within Todi Mills this area has become the latest hub for restaurants,Cafe Zoe is the latest one on the list.
Quite a task to get there, as it’s way inside the mill. I walked in and was seated at one of their comfy couch tables. Once settled in I was able to look around and take in the space that is – Cafe Zoe. Its much bigger than I expected with a bright colourful barand tables all around it. They’ve left some of the walls bare to give it this raw feel. There is no real theme to the place I felt it’s a miss match of everything and if I’m not mistaken this is becoming a trend. Wooden furniture ( I love anything wooden but still ) random bright coloured couches, some tables have a chest or a trunk as a table. It’s not that I find anything unpleasing or ugly I’m just saying I feel like every new place now looks similar to each other and have the same vibe going on. Not what I personally like but that’s just my opinion. Everyone else I’ve spoken to LOVES the place and thinks it is THE place to dine at. Oh well let’s see if that’s true.
I thought the menu was adorable with little illustrations on it. I think it’s a well crafted menu because it had enough to choose from and had my mouth watering at almost every item. Only thing left to do was to wait for my companion and order up!
We kicked off our meal with adorable and highly recommended Lamb Mini Burgers. I felt the mini patty was soft and perfectly seasoned. The bread buns were slightly toasted and lovely but the biggest let down with the dish was this very strong pungent sharp spread (almost like a wasabi sauce I’m not sure exactly),but for me that just ruined the entire dish. It was an almost perfect dish that went horribly wrong. Just very sharp flavour wise and too over powering so all the other flavours were lost. So disappointing. However, when I go back again I shall order the same dish but ask for this horrible paste to be removed.(sadly the menu doesn’t mention anything or else I wouldn’t have ordered it)
Mini Lamb Burgers
I know everyone is going to roll their eyes when I talk about the next starter and think I’ve gone completely mad to pick that over anything else but in my defence my dinner companion picked it and I couldn’t be more pleased. We ordered a portion of, hold your breath- French Fries!! Yes, yes I imagine you are shaking your head with utter disgust and calling me a fool but let me tell you those were some of the best fries I’ve eaten. Crisp on the outside and warm and soft inside when you bite into it. And the real winner was this absolutely beautiful dip accompanying it. A homemade cheese sauce with house spices, chilli and mustard. Just spectacular! I loved it so much that the waiter noticed I was licking every last bit of it and was sweet enough to get me some more.
For our mains we opted for another highly recommended – fish and chips. I think this is such a classic dish but most well known establishments still get it wrong. Cafe Zoe, hit the nail on the head. It was a beautifully cooked piece of fish, soft, flavourful and melted in your mouth. The batter coating wasn’t too oily, it had just the right amount of crispness a fish and chips crust should have. The tartar sauce along with it was a refreshing change a slight twist on the usual. Though I’m not a fan generally this one was enjoyable. The fries once again did not disappoint.
Fish and Chips
Though the menu has plenty to choose from we opted for something from the specials. I though the Penne Mushroom Ragout sounded perfect and indeed it was. I enjoy a mushroom pasta thoroughly and look forward to the bits of mushrooms tossed in it but this penne was just soaked in a thick rich sauce loaded with flavour. I got a sense of mushroom in every bite and almost as if they were minced so well. Traditionally if you asked for mushroom pasta it’s got either a tomato or cheese base sauce with mushrooms added but this one had the entire sauce incorporated with mushrooms and was just absolutely filling- a perfect Ragout. A ragout is essentially a thick sauce, almost stew like but full of flavour and seasoning.
Penne in a Mushroom Ragout
I would have love to sample more they had to offer specially something from their dessert section, however my meal was heavy and none of the desserts at the counter looked particularly appetising. We just got ourselves a black current flavoured ice tea which by the way was very well made.
Black current Ice tea
My dinner wasan early one because on the phone I was told my options were 8pm or 10pm even on a week day ,so we went with 8pm though I can’t imagine why they flatly refused to give me an 8.30pm booking since it was practically empty till 9pm! But that seems to be standard restaurant practice! Though I highly recommend you book as it does tend to get very crowded. And Saturday night post 10 pm unless you want to be in a packed (almost sardine like) place I would not recommend you visit. The staff I found slightly standoffish though polite enough while taking your order. I had heard some horror stories about the food taking ages to come out and not being able to handle the crowd but I’m happy to report no such problems at all. I had good prompt service and I think those might have possibly been teething problems a while ago or maybe an off day.
All in all I found the cafe pleasant and enjoyable, decent service and delicious food. Just a pity we skipped dessert. Maybe I’ll leave dessert tasting for next time because judging by the meal I had there most certainly will be a next time.