Banh Mi. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
"I'he tried wild boar in Sindhudurg. It tastes delicious. I've also eaten frog and snake in Southeast Asia, and crow in Manipur," says Anurag Rane, about a list of bizarre eats from his travels. His smile is hidden under his bushy beard. Fortunately, none of these items are on the menu of The Bhookha Beirdo (beard for inspiration, really?), a new travel-themed café in Bandra that the ex-marketing executive launched along with fitness trainer Gitanjali Tandon. Both Bandra residents, they met four years back at a martial arts class. Their love for food and travel led them to kickstart the café, which has The Bagel Shop next door for company.
The décor is dotted with travel-themed curios
It was all yellow
We push the doorknob shaped like a sailor to enter a cosy yellow-hued space, which can seat 15 guests. It is dotted with vintage binoculars, genie lamps and a compass-shaped clock, along with board games placed under the tables. "Initially, we had thought of a food truck but getting the licenses was difficult," shares Tandon.
The menu recreates the fare that Rane has tried during his trips to parts of the US, Europe, Southeast Asia and North India. Think Boston-style Seafood Chowder with surmai and rawas or Saltimbocco Pork Belly, an Italian-Swiss preparation that replaces veal with pork. The dishes, priced reasonably, also include Thukpa, Brittania Fish And Chips, Bloody Mary Burger made using an in-house sauce, Veg Paella and a Mezze Platter.
Anurag Rane and Gitanjali Tandon
Banh Mi meets Bunny Chow
We begin with Greek Melange (Rs 249), a salad packed with clean flavours of tomato, rocket leaves, bell peppers and feta, sans any mayonnaise thankfully. Mushroom Tea (Rs 149) comforts us with its peppery, umami flavours and a soupy texture.
We expect a quarter loaf of bread when we order the South African dish, Veg Bunny Chow (Rs 269), but we're greeted with a burger bun. Its insides have been scooped to make way for a curry topped with a cheese slice. The thick, tomato-base curry laced with vegetables is more Continental than Durban-inspired.
Chilli Chocolate Cake
Instead, we seek solace in Banh Mi (Rs 299), a French influenced Vietnamese sandwich oozing with a creamy, thick stew of vegetables. We also try a slice of Chilli Chocolate Cake (ask for dessert of the day) where Mexican chillies add to the kick of dark chocolate.
Authenticity may not be its strong point but the Beirdo is cute, and ideal for a cheap yet satiating trip-happy date minus the passport.
TIME: 11 am to 11 pm
AT: 27/A, Pali Mala Road, Bandra (W).