Kala Ghoda Cafe tries to set the trend for cosy independent cafés this side of Worli
With mostly commercial chains of cafés all over the city,the freshly minted Kala Ghoda Café,on Ropewalk lane (opposite Trishna) in Kala Ghoda,is the breath of fresh air that (south) Mumbai badly needed. While its clearly still teething,the café smacks of great potential to be a regular haunt for anyone looking for a good cuppa.
The nicest feature is the barn-like roof which incorporates two skylights; the tiny room is charmingly filled with sufficient natural light throughout the day. This is accentuated by the whitewashed brick walls,adding a romantically bohemian touch. It,therefore,didnt come as a surprise when we met the owner,Farhad Bomanjee,a photographer by profession who started the café more out of personal interest than out of business need.
I see it as a neighbourhood café,a place that contributes to the community. For example,as part of the Kala Ghoda Festival that starts this weekend,I intend to host a poetry recital, he says. He has invested in a lighting system and equipment to display photographs one would normally see in a gallery; thus allowing Kala Ghoda Café to double up as one. Unsurprisingly,he encourages people to cycle over to the café on Sundays by offering a free espresso or macchiato.
Bomanjees forte is clearly coffee; he has scouted plantations in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to source certified organic coffee,choosing those plantations which engage in sustainable practises. I try to source locally as much as possible since India produces some excellent Arabica and Robusta varieties. However,I have yet to source good decaf and therefore have to source this from Italy, he says. He creates his own blends,and is evidently excellent at it given the fabulous iced espresso we tried.
Although the café offers free wi-fi,we noticed the lack of reading material one would expect at any self-respecting café. The menus are posted on the board and although they change frequently,the selection of sandwiches was severely limited. We bake our whole-wheat bread and hope to fine-tune the food we offer soon, Bonajee says.
We look forward to that,given that the parmesan salad sandwich we tried had room for improvement. The carrot cake was lovely,though it seemed very lonely without cream or cream-cheese icing. The café has a tiny loft with an inviting leather couch,but without a cooler isnt a comfortable option.
Bonanjee doesnt want to actively publicise the café,relying more on verbal recommendation and the patronage of regulars. While the café,which opened on January 27,is his first venture in food and beverage,he thankfully has the overall concept right.