A beachy affair! Enjoy some delicious food at this scenic cafe at Mandwa
Bespoke caterer Nitin Mongia's new cafe at Mandwa is all about lapping up delicious food while soaking in the scenic view
Little did we imagine that our Friday morning that started on a chaotic note would end up in a surreal evening by the sea. The party began almost the moment we jumped ship (literally so) and stepped on to a speedboat to Mandwa jetty, where a new scenic restaurant was awaiting us. Wind in our face, crashing waves and a vast expanse of the Arabian sea ahead, we were ready to leave Mumbai behind, even if it was for only a couple of hours.
Within 20 minutes, we arrive at Kiki’s Cafe and Deli, a casual dining cafe perched on the waterfront. The property marks yachtsman and Arjuna Award winner, Nitin Mongia’s debut into the restaurant business. Kiki’s Catering had started in 2010 as a kitchen to cater to the guests living at his luxury villas, Ccaza Commodore and Ccaza Amore in Alibaug, and moved on to takeaways within the island. It was not until a couple of months ago that Mongia decided to cash in on the influx of Mumbai beachbums, happy to spend mornings in Mumbai and evenings in Alibaug and the easing of process of securing licences for ferry services.
The space, designed by Krsnaa Mehta, has elements of his signature style —quirky colours, hanging bicycles and tiffin artworks
As we step inside the restaurant, spread over 1,700 square feet, there’s an instantaneous Goa vibe. While there is an indoor section, it’s the one outdoor that commands favouritism what with its solo chairs and high bar stools looking out at the setting sun. The space, designed by Krsnaa Mehta, has elements of his signature style —quirky colours, hanging bicycles and tiffin artworks.
The table graphics feature all the aspects of your journey to Alibaug — the Gateway of India, rickshaws and cutting chai, reminding you of the metropolis you left behind. As we sink into the chair with a warm, comforting glass of sangria, we find pulled chicken sliders (Rs 295) on the table. Stuffed with chicken tikka, the sliders are delicious with the right amount of spice from the chili marinated onions. The chicken samosas (Rs 275) make for an impressive filling but the coating could have been less oily. The prices seem a tad steep, but the magic of Mongia’s self taught recipes that he acquired during his travels, shine through.
harissa chicken pizza prepared on a sundried tomato flat bread
The menu, however, is a versatile mix of dishes, from artisanal thin crust pizzas with homemade sundried tomato to parmesan flatbreads and dabeli sandwich to assorted mezze and crostini platters. Mongia insists that the menu has been designed to indulge the local people as much as the holidaymaker and the Alibauger — homeowners who have embraced Alibaug as their weekend home. The place also offers a breakfast menu like masala omelet (Rs 200), Kejriwal — toasted bread, melted cheese, fried egg, green chili (Rs 200) — and The Heart Attack (Rs 300) comprising fries, fried eggs, salami, cheese and mayo.
The chicken tikka sliders at Kiki’s Cafe and Deli. Pic/POONAMâÂÂBATHIJA
Next up is the harissa chicken pizza prepared on a sundried tomato flat bread. It’s an item that Mongia is proud of, and it’s easy to figure why. The stretchy mozzarella peppered with chunks of chicken is made of a harissa hot sauce that whets your appetite. Interestingly, the crust remains as is even hours after it’s out. To get a sense of the local flavours, one can try the slow cooked Malvani king fish curry with rice. It caters to the Mangalorean in us, who loves the taste of surmai fillets dunked in the subtle flavours of tamarind pulp and coconut paste. For the vegetarians, there’s the cheesy penne pasta (Rs 150) which is a creamy delight for those who don’t mind indulgence.
What we recommend is the apple pie and salted caramel tarts, two treats that made us wish we had a bigger appetite at the end of the meal. As we catch the last 8.30 pm boat back to Mumbai, and soak in the cool winter breeze, it almost feels therapeutic. We couldn’t have asked for a better cheat vacation than this.
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