Restaurateur Farhan Azmi and wife Ayesha Takia Azmi follow diverse food practices: Farhan loves his meat while Ayesha has been a vegan for six years. Their endearing two-year-old son Mikail, who has turned the soon-to-open Cafe Basilico — Bistro and Deli into his playground, is being raised as a vegetarian. The Azmi family is an ideal example of how the kitchen works in the home of a young, well-travelled family. And, the new additions to the Basilico menu, which will open to Bandra folks on May 13 is a reflection of these practises.
Grilled Polenta with Caponata won us over with its grainy texture and use of organic tomatoes
“Basilico was here for 11 years; when we shut down a lot of people were disappointed. We have been out of the Bandra scene for almost two years now. In our model of business, this is our best shot. Mentally, I am open to doing more experiments here. She (Ayesha) has given a lot of ideas about vegan, organic and healthy ingredients,” informs Farhan, who made a dash to the café from the airport after a string of political meetings in Lucknow. Looking around from the by-reservation-only booth where we are seated, we spot tiny jute bags hung on the wall, which we are told will later be filled with food-flavoured attar bottles that will lift the aroma quotient in the café. There is also a giant world map made with tea bags, as an ode to the café’s tea menu and the couple’s love for the beverage.
“So many Indian are vegetarians. The option is there to go vegan and you don’t have to just eat three pieces of boiled vegetables, it is delicious,” says Ayesha. The new menu will include several healthy dishes such as Five Bean Salad, Roast Tomato soup and Bonsai Quinoa Burger. They are also open to making dishes off the menu on request.
The interiors of the café have been designed by Anjali Mody. Pics/Nimesh Dave
“All our regulars needn’t have to worry; our menu still has a lot of our signature dishes. Comfort food with a café vibe in India is different. We want to serve homely food that people crave for, however, it will be more refined,” says executive chef, Evan Gwynne, who also runs a restaurant in Goa called Shamba.
Tiger Prawns with beetroot couscous
Fresh ingredients and flavours are what the Azmis hope to bring to life at their new space. Organic vegetables will be sourced from Farhan’s farm in Bhiwandi. The al fresco section with its plant-covered wall is an extension to this belief. They also plan to grow organic vegetables like tomatoes, which will be sold at the café. In addition to veggies, Basilico will also sell pasta, signature dips, and other goodies at their counter.
French Vanilla dessert
The Fig and Goat Cheese salad (Rs 350) with maple vinaigrette and candied walnuts were a perfect start to our summer meal. Meat-lovers will trip over the Warm Teriyaki Chicken (Rs 370) or the Mozarella & Chicken Croquettes (Rs 480) salads where the star of the dish is the cheese. Their coolers, such as the Cucumber Cooler (Rs 210) and the Tropical Guava Cooler (Rs 210) carry forward the refreshing palate.
If you prefer spice, try the Peri Peri Prawns (Rs 480) that can be wolfed over straight from the skewer. Chicken lovers would be delighted by the Barbeque Chicken Wings (Rs 400). Mains call for the Tiger Prawns (Rs 1,100) that are crumb coated and come with beetroot flavoured couscous on the side. The dessert list is wide, from Maple Walnut Tart, which is a nutty delight to delicious mini cupcakes.
Basilico is playing its cards right with a tastebud-pleasing menu and cosy interiors (free Wi-Fi too). As for surviving the Bandra restaurant race, Farhan tells us that it is consistency that will be their trump card.
AT: Ground floor, Eternia Building, Hill Road, Bandra (W).