It was eons ago when Smoke House Deli opened at Phoenix Mills, where I first dined at this European-inspired café. It was before I wrote a food blog, well before the time when we photographed everything we ate and put it up on Instagram – so in terms of memory, I only have the one of the food I tasted. And it was good. Time and time again, I have thought of revisiting it to refresh my memory but somehow it always fell to the wayside.

But all that changed as soon as Smoke House Deli in Colaba (the latest outpost) was suggested as our catch-up location. It replaced PaPaYa (another restaurant that I dined at a while ago, although at their Palladium location) and somehow, I believe that the location suits Smoke House Deli so much more. The space that the older buildings in the area have, with natural light seeping in through the windows is perfect for this 90-seater split restaurant.

As you walk into this bright airy space, you cannot miss the walls filled with hand-drawn art developed by illustrator Priya Dali. A lot of the ‘doodles’ are a nod to the area in which this café has found its home.

Now, let’s talk FOOD!

The range of food is superb – you will find something you like, but you might also end up contemplating between dishes in terms of what to order – which is what happened with me. The digital menu (Covid-time’s ‘less touch points’ protocol), offers European comfort food and includes everything from pastas, pizzas, and risotto to American breakfast staples such as waffles and pancakes.

For our starter we ordered the Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders (this replaced their Panko Chicken Tenders), but I believe it will be as popular with diners.

I toyed with three dishes but then when push came to shove, I zeroed in on the Smoke House Truffled Mac and Triple Cheese and got some smoked chicken added to the mix. It was comfort food as the café promises its food to be, but I managed only half. Another mouthful, and I would be on the gluttonous spectrum.

I am glad my friend had the Smoked Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto – gave me a chance to taste it too. This red-coloured risotto is made with Arborio rice and topped with toasted hazelnuts, roasted baby tomatoes and basil, and the smokey and tangy flavours were the perfect blend. We also ordered a side of garlic bread and since we could not decide on whether we wanted it with cheese or not, our server suggested we get half the portion with cheese and the other half without – the perfect solution.

For dessert, my friend was toying with the chocolate mousse or an ice cream. I was trying not to order to keep my sugar levels in check but caved in and ordered the “regular’ mousse (not the vegan version which is also available on the menu). But when it came, its presentation was different but what completely threw me were the nuts. As you know, I don’t eat nuts with my dessert and it was amiss of me to ask the question, but the chocolate mousses I have had in the past have not generally had nuts or usually I was told about then. So, I politely asked our server to take it back. The vegan version also has some nuts, so the decision for dessert was easily made – skip it.

But our server, Anand, was having none of that. He offered us 4 bite-sized homemade ice-creams to try on the house. In order of my preference of flavours, they were – Dope Cuppa Cream (Caramel Macchiato – luckily a coffee flavour without the bitterness), followed by the Keeping it Fresh – Strawberry (I could be eating freshly picked strawberries), then came Donnie Drako (dark chocolate) and finally the one we least liked was Cinema Paradiso (popcorn salted caramel). These ice creams are ‘homemade’ and so tend to melt quickly – so I managed to only get the photo of my coffee ice cream.

I wrapped up my meal with a Green Tea. Loved the timer it came with to help get the perfect cuppa.

Would I go back? For the ambience – yes, for for the service – absolutely, for the food – most definitely.

Location: Smoke House Deli, Building 24, Ground Floor, Hotel Diplomat (Behind Taj Mahal Hotel), 26, B K Boman Behram Marg, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai Telephone: +918657970804/ +912222044441 Open from 9AM to 10PM; Delivery from 11AM – 10.45PM

NOTE: I ate at SMOKE HOUSE DELI on my OWN time and money. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are truly my OWN.