In the bye lanes of Kala Ghoda
Over the last week I’ve had several opportunities to visit the Kala Ghoda precinct, a place I was once familiar with during my student days at Elphinstone College. Unfortunately over the years this once prestigious college has declined into a sub optimal institution and the once hallowed corridors that were filled with students filled with wonder are now filled with students who are just interested in getting a degree and getting on with life.
|Image from Zomato|
But while one part of the neighbourhood has deteriorated, another part has been re-energised and the tiny back lanes behind Rhythm House are now once again fascinating streets where one can find some of the magic that was Bombay. A recent discovery has been the two restaurants that I’ve been dying to visit – The Pantry and Mamagoto. While The Pantry is a quaint reproduction of a Bistro offering basic European style food it can hardly be called fine dining experience. But it has a nice young feel, casual and peaceful and is definitely worth a visit on a wet day when the Shepherd’s Pie is the closest you can get to the original. It was while I was looking out of the window at the Pantry that I found myself staring at Mamagoto, a restaurant I was trying to locate on Google Maps and which now seemed just a hop skip and a jump away ; I was tempted to make a dash for it in the light drizzle especially since the waiters at the Pantry were taking their time to come our way but decided to keep it for another day.
|Image: Avantika Saraogi|
Just across the tiny gully from The Pantry was Masaba Gupta’s haute couture store which was empty of both customers and garments. Effects of the end of season sale? But apart from the fact that there weren’t any clothes my size, I thought that the fabrics were too flimsy and chindi looking for the price. And with everything in Large and Medium sold out, the only option was the Smalls which obviously didn’t meet my requirements. Add a Sales Lady who wasn’t interested in any sales or service and you are bound to get a customer who walks out empty handed. Obviously Masaba is not meant for middle aged women !
Further down the street towards the main road is the Bombay Shirt Company specialising in customised shirts.
|Image from Peepul|
|Image from Google maps|
Right next to Trishna and across the Kala Ghoda Cafe was another place that I’d wanted to visit – La Folie a chocolaterie opened by Sanjana Patel who has trained at Hermes. With such an impeccable pedigree I wasn’t surprised at the delectable fancy chocolate confections but a strong smell pervading the atmosphere that was distinctly not cocoa was a bit off putting and distracting from the pure enjoyment of my Infinite Caramel (which was largely spent in trying to identify it). I may have got it wrong but I thought I detected turpentine and linseed oil.
Next to La Folie was another designer outfit store but having been disappointed by Masaba, I did not want to even venture in . The designs in the window were quite attractive and I would have visited the store if I really was interested in looking for something…..
|Image from store website|
But another store that caught my fancy was Filter at VB Gandhi Road near the bright Blue Synagogue which had the quaintest and quirkiest stationery, prints and art works . This is a veritable treat for design freaks who are looking for Mumbai gifts with a difference.
|Image: Vogue/Ankita Chandra|
What used to be the main attraction of this part of the world (apart from the highly over rated seafood restaurant Trishna) is the Sabyasachi store which has now relocated to the main road at Ador House. It was quite a trek there especially with a baby in tow who threatened to throw out his pacifier on the squishy, rain drenched road but the Alibaba magic inside was totally worth it. Like my grandson I was taken in by the dark red walls with chandeliers and ticktocks on the walls and the wilting roses that added to the charming vignette frozen in time
If you are looking for a relaxed walkabout a quiet neighbourhood in South Mumbai, go beyond Rampart Row and enjoy the charms of an age long past. Even on a grey day when a slight drizzle kisses your cheeks with its gentle rain drops.