Situated in the middle of the buzzing JSS Road, in Girgaum; thishole-in-the-wall cafe is easy to miss on crowded weekdays. But arrive here on a Sunday, and you’ll probably find that all the shutters are down save for the one that bears the signage ‘Tea Vid Mee’. Say it out loud and it’s an ordinary name. Yet the deliberate spelling hints attempts to make it appear whimsical and appeal to younger crowds.
Walk inside to find a snug room decorated in earthy tones with just five bar stools and wooden counters running across. Attempts to spice up the otherwise nondescript interiors include a few wall hangings with uplifting quotes, and a section that displays kullads. The menu too stresses upon the kullad wali chai. And that’s exactly what we start off with.
We place our order at the counter, which forms a part of an open kitchen, where courteous, uniformed staff fills us in on the combo offers. We watch the gloved chef brew our chai and pour it into a kullad. The Masala Chai, (Rs 25), arrives with complimentary methi-flavoured (fenugreek) khari biscuits. The tea is strongly flavoured, just like we like it. We would have preferred to sit back and savour the tea, slowly but the barstools hinted at more of a fast food eatery-vibe.
A glance at the menu reflects typical Indian fast food fare of the pure vegetarian kinds, at reasonable rates. We opt for Veg Grilled Sandwich (Rs 95); while the waiter informs that Jain options are also available. The regular version, which we plumb for, arrived garnished with a cheese-overkill, overpowering the other ingredients. A Mint Lemon Iced Tea (Rs 65) helps wash down the snack; this was a refreshing beverage, ideal for Mumbai’s summer.
We did the rest of our order as a take-away: Paneer Jalapeno Pizza (Rs 145), Paneer Grilled Sandwich (Rs 95), and a Hazelnut Chocolate Milk Shake (Rs 135). The drink was reluctantly ordered after being told that the ‘Dessert Drinks’ on the menu aren’t available on the day that we dropped by. The drinks have interesting names like Apple Pie, Tiramisu and Hazelnut Oreo. The chirpy, well-trained staff uses the opportunity to inform us about free home delivery, for a minimum order of Rs 100, and delivery is limited to the area. Once again we watch the chef at work, but this time the gloves are off. He puts the order together neatly wrapped in butter paper before being placed in branded cardboard boxes. The drink is carefully packaged, and a long drive later there are no food-spills, and the flavours remain fresh.
Overall, Tea Vid Mee attempts to fill up the space in between the many cafe chains that dot the city, and local, desi fast food joints. It walks the middle line, leaning more towards the latter, when it comes to food served fresh, at reasonable rates. Yet, it’s a notch or two above the latter when it comes to ambiance. Perhaps, the standout factor in a saturated market is its kullad packaging.