Not so curious anymore
This Shivaji Park cafe needs to get both, its flavours and pricing right
For a neighbourhood known for its decades-old favourites like Ovenfresh or even the long-standing CCD and Barista culture, any new entrant to Shivaji Park's F&B scene is hard to miss. While that may not be true of the non-descript Café Curious, which is tucked away on the ground floor of a residential building on Cadell Road, it does call for a visit. With motifs of headphones, a cassette player and lines like "Pause hunger, play food" scrawled across the walls, it's not difficult to guess the theme of this 10-seater, which is unusually empty for a Saturday afternoon.
Classic ramen with tofu
A fork and spoon holder on each table has the thoughtful addition of a bottle of sanitiser, and once sure that our hands are germ-free, we get started with the order. From the acoustic appetisers section, we pick the interesting-sounding strawberry chilli grilled veggies (Rs 198) and ch-ch-cheese slab mafia (Rs 199). When we inform the server that we aren't fans of mushroom, he makes a helpful suggestion of substituting them with paneer in the former dish. We like the look of the bell peppers, zucchini, jalapeno and paneer drizzled with the pinkish sauce, which on first bite taste sweet, the pleasant hit of the chillies becoming apparent a tad later. The veggies are a healthy precursor to the cheese burst that follows in the next dish. The mozzarella slabs quoted in egg wash and breadcrumbs and deep fried have little risk of going wrong, and they don't. We also call for a Lindt dark chocolate thick shake to sip on the side (Rs 275), but find the missing bitterness disappointing.
Strawberry chilli grilled veggies
From here on, things go downhill. The Tex Mex pitawich - veggie (Rs 220) is a good idea in theory, what with slices of bread being replaced by grilled pita. But the pita could have been fluffier and the filling far more flavourful. Our companion's pick from the Japanese sandwiches section is the wanpaku katsu sando (chicken; Rs 420), and the problem with this dish in a nutshell is that of plenty. "There is so much going on with all the sauces that I can't really taste the filling," she remarks, while making another valid point that a mushy filling like this calls for toasted or grilled slices of bread instead of the plain ones that added no textural variety.
Wanpaku katsu sando (chicken)
But the real deal breaker is our final order from the rhythm ramen section. We choose the classic version with tofu and given the Rs 399 price tag, we are pretty sure we are in for the real deal — except that when the dish arrives on our table, even a whiff of it is enough to tell it's packaged ramen. What's worse is it doesn't even offer the comfort of two-minute noodles. A few forkfuls of tofu pieces swimming in the red broth, and we are done. We don't just feel disheartened, but also fleeced.
Lindt dark chocolate thick shake
When in Shivaji Park next, we'll happily return to our old favourites like Cafe Trofima or The Chimney Factory. But to get us curious about Café Curious again will need some serious reworking of both, the flavours and pricing.
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