Pali Village Cafe (Bandra, Mumbai)

There’s no one more aware of the fulfilment one gets from eating out at decent restaurants. That fulfilment has multiple facets, be it the relaxation of having someone attend and serve you; the delectation of being able to eat food that would be too intricate to prepare on a daily basis; or the conviviality and ambience that one associates with restaurant dining.

However there was little fulfilment to be had at Pali Village Cafe. Firstly, the place resembles something between a World War One Aircraft hanger and a disused factory warehouse. Sheets of bare corrugated temporary roofing jut out at every corner of the restaurant and temporary black foam sheets precariously adorn some of these ferrous vulgarities on the mezzanine level – I can’t figure out if these are for decoration or have some other practical purpose? I also feel sorry for anyone who has the misfortune of being seated on one of the foldable metal chairs that accompany almost every table in the house. In short, the interior might purport to be “chic”, “vintage” or “edgy”, but in actual fact, it’s just down-right ghastly.

That’s just the interior. The plate of bread which arrives, whilst I applaud the kitchen for attempting to serve warm bread, is a poor attempt. The bread, served piping hot, has clearly been nuked in the microwave till eternity and the wholemeal bread roll would not be out of place in a vacuum sealed packet on an Air India flight. The soup, leek and potato, would seem difficult to get wrong, but sadly in the vintage “specked” (or intentionally dirty looking) bowl is an overly rich, tasteless sea of yellow. The excessive use of butter would be enough to finally bowl over any cardiac patient and overpowered any taste of leek which remained.

The sundried tomato and carrot risotto, looked like the excrement of a cat that had been served a cocktail of tomato ketchup and milk all its life. They say cats have nine lives, but I can assure you they would only want one (and a short one at that) if they were served this every day. The rice was hideously overcooked and I saw little need to add what appeared to be a sweet tasting roux to the rice. Of course, “mantecatura” is the secret to a good risotto, but just a touch of butter and allowing the rice off for heat for a few minutes is all it takes.

Finally, the Chocolate and Hazelnut desert could have quite happily been used as a breeze block (or maybe a door stop?) in the rather temporary looking establishment than served to paying customers. When I got to the bottom of the heavy mousse, there was a bizarre cracker style base which added nothing. I was surprised the cheap metal seat could take the weight of me slumped back in the chair in the nauseous food comatic state that this dessert had induced.

Nevertheless, I see the restuarant is regularly filled with beaming Bollywood celebrities who surely “must know something”, after all, I’m just a humble restuarant critic. Perhaps, it was just not meant for me…

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