The sun sinks, setting the waves at Mandwa beach aglow. Music thrums in the background, upbeat yet soothing, and a cool breeze blows. The orange mojito in your hand completes the scene. You’re at Kiki’s Cafe and Deli, a 45-minute boat ride from the city, but there’s no hint of Mumbai’s chaotic bustle at this eatery. Its walls are painted blue of a Tiffany box, the perfect beach shade, and bicycles hang from the ceiling.
All kinds of people drop in at Kiki’s. Corporate folks speed-boat here for a fancy breakfast — the Truffle Oil Scrambled Eggs, or a dish called The Heart Attack, with fries, eggs, salami and homemade mayo. Some stop on their way to other beaches, such as Kashid, to grab a sandwich or the Alibugger, which comes with a smoked chicken sausage, fried onions, gunpowder mayo and wafers, or the Pulled Chicken Tikka Burger with tandoori chicken and chilli marinated onions. Those who reside in Alibaug tuck into the various flatbreads for dinner, for sure drooling over the one with basil pesto, mushroom and Parmesan cheese. And if the ever-changing set menu offers it, they could enjoy the slow-cooked Malvani King Fish Curry too.
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If you decide to go to Kiki’s, ask for Kobe Aubergine, which consists of deep fried chunks of brinjal soaked in a sweet, sticky Japanese sauce. The Greek Yogurt Kebabs with Tomato Salsa is also a must-try, delicately balancing an array of flavours, and so is the Spinach Parmesan Samosa, a classic favourite with a little twist. Steer clear of the dry and rather tough Spaghetti Aglio e Olio as it was one of the few disappointments on the extensive menu. For dessert, opt for Apple Pie or the Chocolate Truffle Tart.
The menu is a big step forward for the three-year-old Kiki’s, which, until three months ago, was only a takeaway joint. Dishes were limited to sandwiches and quick bites. Now, with an additional seating area opening up to the sea, the eatery gets a lot more holiday goers during the weekends. A breakwater, currently in the process of being made, might mean that Kiki’s won’t have to shut down during the monsoons, like it usually does.
The owner, Nitin Mongia, has picked up cooking himself, experimenting with the flavours. He also runs two villas in Alibaug. All the ingredients used at Kiki’s are locally sourced — the vegetables are bought from a farmer in Alibaug and seafood is pulled in fresh every day. Mongia is also planning a chicken coop and horticulture plantation — that might be a perfect finishing to a rejuvenating getaway.