Think of healthy food in Mumbai and Bandra immediately comes to mind. When these Bandra hipsters are done hanging out at Yoga House and head to work to Lower Parel, there are the likes of 212 All Good to lunch at. But try eating healthy food outside of these two neighbourhoods and your choices are a couple of sad salads tucked in the corner of restaurant menus.
Summer Garden is changing that for Powai. Set a tiny bit away from the busy Central Avenue, the outdoor cafe is right next to Hakone entertainment centre. It twinkles with fairy lights at night and pets are welcome all day (they even get their own treats!). We sit down with our freshly squeezed juices to chat with the young and bubbly chef Suchin on her food philisophy.
Cute handwritten menus aside, there is much to love about how they cook at Summer Garden. Nothing comes our of a jar or a bottle. There is no refined flour or white sugar or refined oil in any dish. They soak their whole grains and bake their own bread and juice their own coconuts. Even when they source something like an icecream from a supplier, it's preservative free. In the world of fast, processed foods, this refreshing approach to clean, slow cooking impresses us.
We leave our ordering in Suchin's capable hands and she starts us off with a trio of appetisers. The mushroom cigars, hot off the fryer, show a light hand with an obviously fresh pastry. Fries, cut in cubes over here, are made with a mix of potato and sweet potato, and come in a playful paper boat. My favourite though is a delicate, well-balanced salad topped with locally sourced feta.
For mains, I get myself a Mediterranean thali. My friend declares the pea hummus the dish of the day, and there are equally good pumpkin butter and baba ghanoush competing for your pita attention. I spend most of the time drooling on the sabudana studded with pomegranate.
All the time we were eating our meal, my eyes were set on the blackboards set high above advertising the day's special. It promises a caramel broiche and when Suchin brings out the toasted brioche with jaggery caramel, studded with peanuts and sitting alongside a bowl of almond ice cream, my admiration of the cafe is complete.
Summer Garden is a true labour of love. When restaurants with unique dishes and concepts open in Bombay, I am always curious to see how the general public reacts to them. This is one new entrant I will be rooting for, if only so I can go back and try out their avocado toast.