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You don't need to be a patriot to eat here

With Stir-fry Lamb in Chilly Oyster and Veg Burger on the menu, we wondered about the inspiration behind the name of this new eatery in Lower Parel: Cafe Free India. Once inside, we were happy to note that the view of Deepak Cinema on the facing road adds a nostalgia to the place, which the menu might lack.


The bright café is perfect for laidback evenings. Pics/ Dhara Vora

Wooden flooring, white brick walls adorned with paintings and vintage pictures of the city (both of which are on sale), all contribute to the tasteful interiors of the place.  We eased into the cane chairs and looked out through the long glass windows ready to order from a menu that promised us “free-spirited dining”. 

Soup seemed the right way to begin our meal, especially since it was raining outside. We asked for the Tibetan Thukpa soup (Rs 125), served steaming hot with veggies, noodles, garnished with basil and carrying the aroma of ginger.


The caramelised onions worked well with the mayo in the Chicken Burger

One spoonful of the clear soup, and suddenly the street in front of us, the cabs, and even the monstrous poster of Pagla Premi outside the aforementioned cinema acquired a romantic hue, accentuated only by the drizzle outside. We were brought back to reality soon enough, courtesy the music playing on the flat screen inside — the only feature that jars at this quaint cafe.

No rice paper rolls
We requested for the Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls next, which wasn’t available, so we ordered the Chicken Burger (Rs 175) instead. The burger boasts a hearty chicken patty, generous amounts of creamy mayo, caramelised onions and crisp lettuce served between two wholewheat (brown) burger buns, served with fries. The 10-inch, thin-crust Veggie Delight pizza (Rs 195) with mushrooms, babycorn, onions and bell peppers is well worth its dough! 


The servings are generous, as with the Burnt Basil and Garlic Rice

Next, we ordered the Chicken in Barbeque sauce (Rs 225) and Basil Burnt Garlic Rice (Rs 125). The barbeque sauce tasted similar to the Chilly-Garlic gravies we are used to at Indian-Chinese restaurants, and was missing the slightly sweet and smoky flavour one might associate with Barbeque sauce. But since it was tasty, we won’t give the dish a thumbs down. The portion of rice was generous with the basil adding freshness to the dish.

Free your mind
Given its varied menu, Cafe Free India has something for everyone — not just patriots. But it’s the ambience and Free WiFi that are truly freeing.

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