Mumbai Food: New vegetarian cafe in Vile Parle offers a healthy high

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 15:25 IST | Krutika Beharawala |

A new all-vegetarian cafe in Vile Parle crops up in a neighbourhood starved of healthy eating options to offer Italian caprese on a stick and black rice in a salad

Mumbai Local
Mumbai Local. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Being Vile Parle (e) residents for over two decades now, we’ve often curbed our cravings for a bowlful of Caesar Salad and soup with a DIY toss-up at home or an odd trip to salad bars in Khar-Bandra due to the lack of healthy dining options in the neighbourhood. So, when we heard of Garde Manger, a health cafe that recently opened on a bustling stretch near the railway station, populated with tea, coffee, vada pav and farsan shops, we instantly decided to drop in.

Though small (roughly a 10-seater including indoor and outdoor sections), the cafe warmed up to us with its bright lights, fork-shaped wooden chairs, soft instrumental tunes (Rihanna’s Unfaithful) playing in the background and a well-stocked salad bar. The all-vegetarian menu (since the locality is home to largely Gujaratis and Maharashtrians) offers a range of soups, salads, whole-wheat pastas, specials like Multigrain Stuffed Parathas and Caesar shots, quinoa smoothies and sandwiches. each dish also highlights its health benefits. For instance, Black Rice Salad is rich in antioxidants and dietary fibre, while Som Tam is loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium and magnesium.

The café features a well-stocked salad bar with DIY options  
The cafe features a well-stocked salad bar with DIY options  

Nutritionist on-board
“We curated the dishes with the help of nutritionist Charmaine D’Souza, whose clientele includes industrialist Anil Ambani. We are also planning to add a calorie count to each dish,” shared cafe partner Parvinder Singh. With a degree in hotel management, the 33-year-old has worked in the garde manger (French: keeper of the food) section — which witnesses prep of cold food like salads and appetisers — at city five-stars, leading him to start an eponymous health cafe, which is poles apart from his family-run restaurant chain, Mini Punjab. Singh confessed, “My father was apprehensive about the concept but I wanted to do something of my own and took this up as
a challenge." 

Nitrogen in my chaat
We began with Mumbai Local (`100), a chaat-like salad packed with chickpeas, cottage cheese cubes, puffed rice, onion and tomatoes served in a cone. Laced with tangy-spicy tamarind and mint chutney, the dish made for a great snack but could have done without the forced addition of nitrogen smoke. We washed it down with Muesli Peanut Smoothie (`180), a thick blend that finely balanced peanut butter with digestive biscuits, muesli, honey and soymilk. The starchy-sweet rice in Black Rice Salad (`350) went well with crunchy bell peppers, red cabbage, tomatoes and greens, doused in a zesty lemon vinaigrette, making it a wholesome meal. “We source black rice from Thailand. Most of our vegetables are sourced locally or from a cousin’s farm in Wada (Thane district) while sugar is from my home town, Amritsar,” revealed Singh, making us try the unprocessed sugar made using jaggery crumbs, with a hint of ghee.

Italian Caprese 
Italian Caprese 

Caprese on a stick
Comprising skewers of basil leaves, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini dipped in pesto sauce, Italian Caprese (`350) scored on presentation and tangy-tart flavours that greeted our palate in quick succession as we tucked into it like a tikka. We tasted similar flavours in the Roasted Tomatoes and Bocconcini Sandwich (`275) that was served in a perfectly baked panini. We found comfort in the warm Cous Cous Upma (`325). It presented familiar flavours of the South Indian brekkie dish in its turmeric-laced beady semolina balls tempered with kadipatta and chillies. We stepped out, glad to have found a cafe to step into post a vigorous morning walk.

parvinder singh
Parvinder Singh, partner

Black Rice Salad 
Black Rice Salad 

Time: 8 am to 11 pm
AT: Parmar CHS, Paranjape B Scheme, 1st Road, near Mahila Sangh School, Vile Parle (e).
CALL: 8291816108

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