bpb Review: Cafe at the NCPA
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 18:56

All day eateries are having their moment in the sun and Café at the NCPA, with its outdoor space and palm trees, is quite literally the brightest of them all. We wish we could say the same for the restaurant’s service and food.

As we mentioned in our sneak peek, Café at the NCPA is run by chef Farrokh Khambatta and located in the garden behind Amadeus, flanked and fuelled by an open kitchen. This arrangement, while pretty, lays bare the utter chaos and confusion of the Café’s staff, which we witnessed with amusement and growing exasperation during our Tuesday lunch.

Slippery When Wet

Three different waiters came and gave us three different descriptions of what turned out to be a passable virgin Bloody Mary, described only as “Frozen Snappers” on the menu; we didn’t even bother to ask what “Red and Green” or “Splash” were, sticking instead to what we could decipher independently –oversweet, under-cocoaed chocolate and raspberry milkshake; cinnamon-spiked cold coffee and a fizzy plum and mint lemonade that was the highlight of our meal.

These arrived almost at the end of our lunch, as did mixed green dumplings – sticky and warm, but not nearly as spectacular as the ones we’d tasted during our sneak peek. If it’s Asian you’re looking for, try also tofu and greens in black bean sauce, served with a generous bowl of rice or noodles. Categorised as a “Mini Meal”, this is hearty, satisfying and good value for money, but nowhere close to the magic chef Farrokh Khambatta pulls off at his Asian restaurant Joss.

Poorly Bread

Lackluster too was a chicken burger that came on a nice bun, firm enough to hold the weight of a fat patty smothered in cheese and showered with caramalised onions. Pile on the mustard, grainy and pungent, and you’ll have a pleasant sandwich; on its own, though, the patty is tender but woefully tasteless. Much more flavourful is Black Forest ham, piled onto shards of crusty bread along with cheese, coriander paste and sweet-sharp vinaigrette. Instant fans, we asked what the dressing used was and triggered off a chain of disparate answers from mayo to mustard, none of which seemed plausible. Never mind. 

Dessert came in the form of neatly folded crepe Suzette, pregnant with juicy oranges; and cloying house butterscotch ice cream. A too-sweet ending?

Changes Ahead? 

Maybe not. Chaotic and disappointing as it might be, we’re not ready to write off Café at the NCPA just yet, for it has some good things going, including a great space; proximity to the theatre; and the expertise of one of our favorite chefs, who we’re hoping will find his bearings quick, fast and in a hurry. Amen to that.

Getting there: Cafe at the NCPA, NCPA, Nariman Point, approximately Rs 800 per head.

bpb conducts all reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.


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