My little meet-cute with Kala Ghoda Cafe took place four years back, on a balmy August evening after a soul satisfying meal at Trishna’s.
While walking back to catch a taxi, mom and I were hit with the sudden realisation that my cousin (who we were dining with) had her birthday in a couple of hours. And the resulting mad scramble to find a cake place open at 10.30pm led us to KGC’s humble space.
Their dark chocolate cake which we brought home was met with equal parts of deranged devouring punctuated by silent looks of wonder, both, at one another and the remnants of cake on our plates. Pretty sure it’s the only time I have cared more about the cake than the celebration behind its presence.
To those who haven’t heard of this quaint little cafe, KGC was the harbinger of art deco cafes and part cafe part gallery spots to the South Bombay dining scene- possibly the first of its kind to cater to their love for art, both on the plate and on their walls. It has now obtained near legendary status for being the perfect chill spot to do some work (courtesy free wifi) while sipping on good coffee or snacking on some of their goodies.
Off late, they’ve also introduced a concise dining menu which we set out to sample a few days back.
KGC opens up to a larger dining space during the mornings, but scales back down to the original cafe at night, so waiting for seats is commonplace. Do keep that in mind while paying them a visit.
However once you’re in, you can’t help but smile at how the place is done up, with high vaulted wooden ceilings and a panel of skylights lighting up the cheerful dining space below.
The menu is concise with a couple of recurring specials every few days. This is what we ordered:
Kefir traces its origins to Russia and other eastern European countries. A variant of the famed buttermilk, this is essentially a thicker, creamier version of the Arab Labaan, rich in its probiotic content. We loved the freshness of the Kefir and the slight sourness from the culture. I believe KGC also provides sweetened versions for those with slightly more squeamish tastebuds.
Flame Grilled Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and a Spicy Cumin-Honey Sauce
You know what riles me? Food that sets high expectations in its presentation and description but nosedives into oblivion when tasted. The chicken looked great when it got to our table, but was so unbelievably overcooked, mom looked like she was waging a war against her chicken breast, with only a fork and slightly glorified butter knife to her defence. That “spicy” sauce was not spicy by anyone’s standards. In fact, it was sickeningly sweet and completely lacking any balance, making me wonder what their other option of “blander” (yes, they actually said blander) brown sauce on the menu would have tasted like. The spuds were deplorable, watery and severely lacking the creamy starchiness of a good mash. A gross disappointment in every sense of the term.
Red Thai Ravas with Wild Black Rice and Roasted Vegetables
The fish steak was beautifully cooked, flaky and soft to the touch. I would have loved some more crisp on the skin, but their cooking was perfectly acceptable even without it. The rice was equally well executed, flavourful and with a very agreeable bite- mushy rice would have been terrible here. As for the sauce, bear in mind this was not a Red Thai “curry”, but more a cream sauce with Red Thai notes. For what it was, it complemented the fish well. The mint, cilantro and roasted chunks of potato and mushrooms added an element of freshness to the otherwise heavy dish and I finished it without a complaint.
Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream
It goes without saying that after all that talk on their cake, I just had to order it while we were there. This is quite honestly the BEST chocolate cake I have ever had, here or anywhere else. This warm slice of sin crumbles into a gorgeous chocolate-y mess at the slightest insistence of a spoon and each mouthful reveals decadent, bittersweet dark chocolate in perfect harmony with the indulgent, buttery cake base. This is the kind of cake that makes you want to close your eyes and lose yourself in. I would suggest this in a heartbeat to anyone who loves dessert, but it is absolute pleasure to the select few (like me) who like their cake without the fuss of layers of icing, fondant or ganache to make it taste better.
While the hits and misses in their mains don’t necessarily warrant a second visit for us, KGC is great at what it started for and it will continue to draw in the classes for its artsy interiors and laid back vibe. And deservedly so.
I hope to be back soon, perhaps not for a meal, but with a book and the promise of a strong iced expresso and of course, that lovely, lovely cake.