CAFÉ ZOE: YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD CAFÉ WITH HEART
I have lived in Dubai now for a very very long time by any standard – 13 years and counting! So the city I grew up in and I still call home – Bombay – is a place I now just visit. In the time I have been away, Bombay has flourished with new dining destinations, new concepts, innovative cuisines and fantastic quality and taste. Of course, Bombay will always have its street food – and I for one can’t get enough of it, but its nice to go and try out new places too – especially now that I consider myself a food blogger!
So on a recent trip to Bombay, I sent out a memo to all my friends who I would meet – it simply said – a meal has to be at a place I have never eaten at before! And they all came out trumps.
I met a school friend – Roxanne – who I have known since I was four, lost touch over the college years, and thanks to social media have since reconnected. And Café Zoe was her choice.
Located in the mill area around Lower Parel – which is fast gaining a reputation of being the area where it’s all ‘happening’, Café Zoe is neatly tucked away in Mathuradas Mills Compound (don’t be put off by the narrow, crammed, winding, dusty street that leads to it). The moment you walk into the café you are met with natural light streaming in through the skylights (I can definitely vouch for this – while I was there, the electricity went out but I still could clearly see what was in front of me), high ceilings (as can be expected from a converted mill space), exposed brick walls and painted beams.
It has an open bar which makes it look flamboyantly classy and I love this about Bombay – stand-alone restaurants being able to serve alcohol. I absolutely loved the relaxed laid back feel that a mid-afternoon eating and catch-up with friends demands.
In a change to the usual, I left most of the ordering to Roxanne – she had eaten here before and hence her recommendations were welcome (especially as that would make me try stuff outside my comfort zone). Here is what we tried while I sipped on my lemon mint and totally indulged in free drinking water that was placed at the table (the reason I specify ‘free’ is although you have an option to have bottled water, in Bombay restaurants also sever regular filtered water which is what I have been brought up to dink – unlike in Dubai where it is all bottled and paid for)
Feta cheese and watermelon salad: Although this was not on the menu, Roxanne had had it there before and must have loved it enough to order it off the menu. And what a perfect choice to start the meal – the fresh coolness of the watermelon (perfect to cool you down from the Bombay summer heat) perfectly complimented the tangy, creamy and crumbly texture of the cheese.
Potato and cheese croquettes: My totally winning combination – what was there not to love about it – loved the dip it came with.
Beetroot Risotto: who would have ever thought that I would eat a dish with beetroot, let alone love it! And I did absolutely love the texture and the flavours in this dish. I would totally recommend this to anyone visiting Café Zoe.
Dark chocolate mousse and marzipan cake: This had to be my choice – but I think my idea of what it would be was different to what turned up. I thought it would be chocolate mousse in a bowl with a marzipan cake on the side – but as I dug in I realised that the two contrasting textures made for one delectable dessert. Although if I am to be completely honest (and you know I always am!) I will try the Flourless Chocolate Cake with espresso cream the next time I visit.
I do have one regret however – not having met Chef Viraf Patel who was in the kitchen while I was there!!! Hopefully will get him to do an interview with ChefTalk next time I visit the city.
Would I recommend Café Zoe – most definitely. It’s a wonderful relaxed little café which is big on flavour.
Thank you Roxanne for introducing me to Café Zoe.
Location: Café Zoe, Mathuradas Mills Compound, 126 N. M. Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Bombay (Mumbai) Tel: +91 22 2490 2065. Open from 7.30am – 1.30am everyday.