Till eight months ago, Le Cafe in Chembur was second home for us. The always-full cafe, housed in the Jewel of Chembur hotel, played strictly average music but served lip-smacking Grilled Cottage Cheese Steak with Black Pepper Sauce and herbed butter rice.
The Spinach Mushroom Soup could lift the dreariest mood. The Gooey Chocolate Cake hid ample liquid chocolate. Coffees came in tall, haughty glasses and lasted for hours. And we learnt how, sometimes, you didn’t have pay through the nose to be that happy.
Then, the menu changed, we shed a tear or two, and never went back. Until now. Now, we hear that our old haunt (new, but improved?) has opened its doors to R City Mall, Ghatkopar, too. Curious and a tad sentimental, we step in to find familiar faces and an unfamiliar menu. Still, get down to business we do, call for the Moroccan Cottage Cheese Skewers (Rs 225) and decide to give an old friend a chance.
The dish is well-seasoned and grilled perfectly, but the paneer is not the softest we have had. The Garlic Aioli, on which the skewers rest, had been dribbled at best. Our eyes linger over the wood fired pizzas, but our server recommends the Veggie Calzone (Rs 375), a closed pizza. We recommend you skip it -- generous though it is, we cannot taste the baby spinach, basil and sundried tomatoes because the jalapenos are overpowering.
Now, we think, only some very excellent main dishes will help the cafe redeem itself. We decide to play tough and call for a Sicilian Risotto (Rs 225) to see whether the cafe can pull off something very few restaurants can claim to be good at. It arrives, red and hot, and our disappointment withers -- the sundried tomatoes, black olives, basil and paprika risotto leaves us begging for more. The Le Cafe Grilled Chicken Burger (Rs 225) is delicious, too. The patty is evenly cooked, which means no raw, undercooked patty disasters here. We also like the generous tomatoes and onions instead of the regular, boring lettuce leaf between the breads. We wish it came without the regular coleslaw, but a spicy dip which is served on request fixes that, too.
Next, we call for the Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (Rs 275), which, again doesn’t disappoint -- the dense potato mash and the flavoured lentil sauce make for great comfort food in this weather.
Our Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse (Rs 175) ends a good meal on a better note -- rich and delicious, it comes on a bed of a cookie. We are glad we gave this place a second chance. What are old friends for?