While it may not win awards for its interiors and ambience, a new Bandra cafe gets its right with the fast food staples
In a dynamic "culinaryscape" like that in Mumbai — one that's constantly being populated by shiny new cafes, each trying to outdo the other in terms of spiffy decor and all exuding a cool, hipster-chic vibe - we rarely come across one that goes against the grain. Speaking of grain, La Farina (which translates to "wheat grain flour" in Italian) is one such cafe that reinforces the adage of "never judge a book by its cover."
Occupying the same space along the meandering Waroda Road in Ranwar Village that once housed a branch of the popular Kakori House, this tiny, rather average-looking cafe proves that it truly is all about the food. Ignoring the only other company we have that afternoon that takes the form of a few pesky flies, we settle down at one of the al fresco cafe's tomato-red tables and call for fast food from the rather small and concise menu.
Though it takes a while to prepare, the La Farina special (Rs 385 for a 12-inch one) is a well-priced, delicious pizza. We go for the thin crust regular flour one that comes heaped with a trio of chicken sausage, shrimp and juicy roasted chicken morsels - all enrobed by a light tomato sauce and topped with gooey mozzarella cheese.
La Farina special pizza
The mild mozzarella once again shows up in the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich (Rs 195) that's served with fries that are sadly of the frozen, store-bought variety and not homemade as we'd have liked. But this does not take away from the fresh burst of flavours the tomato slices and basil leaves lend to the sandwich that is in reality a fresh Caprese salad between two grilled slices of bread.
Served with an interesting range of Middle eastern torshi-style pickle made from radish, bell peppers and carrots, the generously stuffed chicken salami sandwich (Rs 205) is worth its weight in gold. A yummy sum of crisp lettuce, crusty garlic croutons and grilled chicken parts, the Caesar salad with chicken (Rs 225) is another winner.
We wash it all down with a dense vegan shake (Rs 120) made with the nutty-tasting soy milk, with a slight hint of coffee flavour appearing at the end of each sip. Perfectly straightforward, our cappuccino (Rs 100) comes to the table with a thick foamy top and does its job of perking up the lazy Sun-day afternoon.
While we were first told that their blender was out of order, and hence no frozen drinks were available, our attentive server made sure to quickly inform us when the kitchen snafu was sorted out that he was ready to serve us our first choice of the crunchy frappe (Rs 130). A tall glass of just-the-right-sweet chocolate milk blended with ice and Oreo biscuits and topped with a whipped cream crown, our frappe is worth the initial stress of uncertainty.
We bookend our afternoon fast food session with another one of La Farina's thin crust pizzas — the al funghi (Rs 320 for a 12-inch one). However, this one disappoints as we miss the generosity in both the sparsely scattered mushroom slices and barely-there sprinkling of mozzarella cheese we had earlier enjoyed heaps of in the pizza's non-vegetarian counterpart.
But with a lot more hits than misses, our preference scales are clearly tipped in favour of this tiny cafe that's big on promise.
At La Farina Cafe, Dunhill Apartments, Waroda Road, Bandra West.
Time 11 am to 11 pm
Food review rating: 4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE
La Farina Cafe didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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