Sip on the sky, sea and sunset

Oct 12, 2013, 00:29 IST | Dhara Vora

As the rains tease Mumbaiites with their final goodbyes, we try to decode the blue-sky-meets- good-food mantras at some of the city's popular, picturesque al fresco restaurants, in time to welcome clear weather and crisp evenings

The sunlight streaming in through the leaves of a shady tree and a glass of iced lemonade with a cheese-and-cream laced dish makes for a picture-perfect frame on an idyllic weekend afternoon. Thankfully, this is an achievable dream and as one looks forward to clear blue skies and crisp weather, al fresco restaurants in the city are looking happily, heavenward.

Olive has long been utilising its open space for several conceptualised events. File pic

Candies > Open sky policy
One name that has been around for years now is old Bandra favourite, Candies. Owner Allan Pereira is the man behind the charming hill garden, the wooden seats, and the mosaic walls - all being his creations. “The idea behind the Pali Hill space was to create a sit-down place where people feel that they are not within the city. We cut up the space into different levels and created this green open space. I want my restaurants to have a feel of Greece, France, Goa, all put together.

Mai Tai has tried to create a Polynesian island with its exteriors. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Also, due to the terraced levels, people can sit around for as long as possible,” he believes. The older Candies’ outlet near Bandra Reclamation too, went under renovation earlier this year, and the end-result was a cutesy street-side cafe. “The road is a dead end so it’s a calm neighbourhood. I wanted people to come by their cars or bikes, park it right there and sip on coffee seated outside. It’s the reason why I have tiled the front section, too. I am trying to recreate cafes from Cot D’Zure,” he reveals.

The recently renovated Candies near Lilavati Hospital in Bandra encourages driving in and settling down for a quiet meal. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Corniche > Sea and smile
While Candies, has long been attracting people from all corners of the city, another Bandra restaurant, Corniche that faces the Carter Road promenade, has been garnering a loyal audience. With the sea breeze caressing the space, the menu too has been designed to keep up with the mood. Executive Chef, Amit Chaudhary tells us, “The waterfront is our USP; we designed the menu such that it complements it. So, we have a majority of sea food and a menu that goes with the casual and comfortable open-air ambiance of the space and not a strict fine-dine atmosphere.”

Grilled Mangospacho Red Snapper

Mai Tai > Island in the city
Corniche might have a seafront to boast of, but Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge has a global Polynesian image to keep in mind and had the task to create an island, in a mall, in Lower Parel. “We have strategically picked locations for Mai Tai that give the look and feel of an island. We wanted to give our guest a complete experience of a Polynesian island through placing white pebbles, green trees, etc in the outdoor section.

A sunset view from Corniche

Our idea was to create a relaxed casual space while staying true to the global theme of the chain. We zeroed down on the open air concept to achieve this,” informs Gordon D’Souza, Director of Operations. D’Souza tells us that though the lounge is consistent in its theme and aesthetics are from around the world, the city outlet has its own unique personality and no two outlets are exactly alike.

Olive > White and beautiful
An expansive outdoor space also requires attention to detail to keep the place in shape. Pereira tells us, “During the rains, people sit in the air-conditioned section, but I also had the problem of crows coming in. I have now used netting to solve this problem.” “We have a 100-year-old tree at our Mahalaxmi outlet and being an open space, it is prone to dust. Other than that there aren’t any challenges as such that open spaces pose,” says Candice D’Souza, Head of Events and Marketing at the Olive outlets.

The open spaces also serve as a great space to host creative events and pop-up shows, which seem to be the toast of the season. “With large outer space we have always looked at creating a complete experience that doesn’t just end with food. People today are world travellers and aware so it is essential to offer a good experience in a homegrown atmosphere. 

At Olive, the white walls and the outdoor setting have always helped us include creative concepts related to fashion, food (Sunday brunches) or music and create a community space. Recently, we launched an outlet in Pune and have retained our open air policy with a 4,500 sq feet open courtyard,” says D’Souza.

Dos & Don’ts for an al fresco space
> For open spaces too, lighting plays an important factor. Try to use indirect lights to brighten the space.
> To create more moving space for attendants, utilise corners for creating your washrooms or pantry.
> Earthy colours work best for an open space and use wood, bamboo or wrought iron to create sections.
> Avoid too many real plants as they will require pesticides, and dead leaves will litter the space.
> For a roof top, pay special attention to the height of the parapet for safety reasons.
> For covering open spaces, use a dome or pergola.
> Add colour to the space with the help of lights.
> It’s not advisable to have open water bodies in Mumbai as they will attract mosquitoes.
- Tips courtesy, Anish Motwani, Interior Designer.

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