It starts well. A new deli, nicely done up interiors, stylish tables set on the side of the stairs winding down two levels and a friendly staff. EAT Deli.Cafe at Pali Naka in Bandra impresses at first glance. So we navigate our way through the puddles and potholes to enter the week-old restaurant and find ourselves a table. The basement level is not open yet we are told.
The menu is extensive with starters, mains, grills, waffles and pancakes (yes the Deli opens for late breakfast too) and a host of desserts. We walk up a few flights to check out the bread and cakes. They look appetising as do the Lamb Stew with Rice (Rs 700) and the Pan Seared Vietnamese Basa (Rs 450), which we order for the main course.
But sadly it goes pretty much downhill from here. We will be honest. The Basa is well-cooked, herbed just right and tastes great. Thumbs up. The lamb stew is above average without being outstanding. The gravy is tasty and the lamb a tad under-stewed. But that’s not where we face our big problem. There is an uninvited guest in our stew, a dead one at that! We certainly didn’t order extra non-veg.
We are too shocked to react but finally call the staff and ask them to take away the dish (after pointing out the reason). We wait for someone to come running with an apology. Instead, they go into a huddle. We don’t want to get other diners overtly worried, so we keep mum too. Finally the manager walks down, says sorry. We have had enough, so we ask for the Blue Velvet Cheese Cake (Rs 240 a slice) and the Hazelnut Ganache (Rs 240 a slice) we ordered as takeaway earlier.
The cakes are packed and we get a bill for Rs 1010. “We did not bill you for the meat sir,” we are told. We pay up, and then remind the staff that anywhere else in a civilised world, the restaurant management waives off the bill if there is any problem with a meal, let alone the “teething trouble” (as they refer to it as later) we had in our stew.
Back home we try the cakes. The Hazelnut Ganache passes the test. It’s soft and creamy and the portion is large. The Blue Velvet Cheese Cake however, makes us feel blue. It’s too dry, the cream is definitely stale and never mind the rest. Sad, since the place is nicely done up and the menu looks appetizing. The owners have a proven track record too. But the kitchen hygiene and the code of ethics need serious work. The tiny kitchen obviously has no mechanism to keep some of our flying friends away. We are later told EAT is going through a soft-launch phase and haven’t solved all its problems yet. We hope they do “solve” the problems, and more importantly, never subject unsuspecting diners to a guinea pig-like test run for over a week.