It takes a Bandra village

Villa Vandre is a charming café which serves a sumptuous medley of cuisines. There are grandmother's memories, East Indian favourites from Bandra's nooks and crannies and a playful combination of Bengal and Italy, all sure to evoke much nostalgia, writes Kareena Gianani

My dinner companion and I know we have entered Bandra's Perry Cross Road when the silence is absolute. We keep our eyes peeled for Villa Vandre because we've been told how tiny it is, set up in a garage space. We miss it nonetheless, jaunt down the lane, and retrace our steps.

Homemade East Indian Sausage Fry
Homemade East Indian Sausage Fry 

And there it is — through the glass doors we see a space so small that it is impossible for conversations and aromas not to mingle across the table. Villa Vandre is the labour of love of Chef Aloo who whipped out quite a delicious fare at Sancho's. Here, the light blue walls hold a bit of home inside — chipped plates, friendly banter and the attention of the chef's wife, Firuza.

We scan the menu — breakfast is served till noon and sandwiches with combinations that promise flavour and surprise. We pick the Coronation Chicken (R225) and Spicy Veg Burger (R215).

Berry Panna Cotta
Berry Panna Cotta

As soon as we bite into the sandwich and taste the curry leaf mayonnaise, we are sold. It is surprisingly delicious and seems like such an obvious combination to leave a mark with, but we haven't tasted anything quite like it. We get over the novelty of the mayo, and notice the crunchy multigrain roll and the perfectly roasted chunks of chicken. If a simple sandwich could pack in brilliance, this is it.

The vegetarian burger is another winner. We aren't fans of red bean patties, but love it here. Perhaps it is the Cajun mayo, the tomatoes and the rich, rich bun of goodness, and we stand converted.

Villa Vandre
Villa Vandre 

Next, we call for the Homemade East Indian Sausage Fry (R295). We are usually partial to chicken-based dishes at restaurants. So, tempted as we were to go for the Sunday Chicken Curry, in the interest of getting out of the culinary comfort zone, we pick Sausage Fry. The dish arrives in a mini cast iron skillet, covered in a thick layer of oil.

But the first bite make our worries disappear; in fact even the world looks like a much better place. The sausages in the dish come in tiny pieces with creamy mashed potato, onions, a delicious curry and a copious amount of oil, which the pav soaks up easily. We mix the layer and have a creamy, soft-textured dish, reminescent of grandmother's kitchen.

When the Kasundi Risotto (Rs295)arrives, we wonder just how much mustard could one have? Turns out, if it is made as delicately as this, you can have a steel thali of it (that's how the café serves its mains).

Our sweet ending comes in a cute cup of berry panacotta (R150) and a slice of flan (R180). The panna cotta is rich and smooth and the flan, too, is delicious to a fault. The flaky, light flan with blueberry compote makes for good daydreams, we conclude.

Villa Vandre has got everything right — right from the concept, to the décor and, of course, the food. Good things, as they say, come in small packages, and Villa Vandre sure hits the high note.

Where: Villa Vandre, New Kantwadi Road, Bandra West
Call: 65279009
Food: Excellent
Ambiance: Quaint
Service: Warm

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