When it comes to dining out, only few cities can match Mumbai. Be it their vibe or openness to experimenting with new cuisines, the city’s restaurants are unparalleled — where else can you see a café with a total of three seats? Or a restaurant that houses a Shiva temple? Or one that offers home style Naga food from the kitchen of two native self-trained home chefs?
We take a look at three promising new additions to the city’s culinary landscape.
Round the circle: Circle Sixty Nine, Worli
A galleria-bistro, Circle Sixty Nine is set in the physical gallery of the popular Kathiwada City House in Worli. The building is lined with huge trees and covered with a canopy.
It is helmed by entrepreneurs Aditi Dugar, founder of restaurants like Masque, Sage & Saffron; and Sangita Kathiwada, the owner and creative director of clothing brand Mélange.
Set in a 1940s Art Deco mansion that is now home to a members-only community called Circle 1434, Circle Sixty Nine started operations in the last week of June (2023) and is open to all. While a private Shiva temple overlooks the alfresco area, a large mural by artist Shilo Shiv Suleiman dominates the indoor space. Artworks by M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, and P. Barwe — all from Kathiwada’s personal collection, brighten up the bistro.
But it is the food that takes centre-stage here. Managed by Dugar’s Urban Gourmet India, the kitchen at Circle Sixty Nine dishes out European flavours with unique twists using local ingredients. The idea, says Dugar, is to play with the artsy element of the space and create an international menu that is fresh, light, and appeals to the widely-travelled customer base that frequents the space.
The menu is concise but rich in variety. Try the healthy salads, like Goat Cheese-Stuffed Shishito Peppers, order a smoothie bowls or sample a set small plates, including confit duck leg. You can also order yourself an indulgent burger, followed by decadent desserts such as raspberry and blueberry phyllo. The wine list is quite impressive too, with names such as Phillipe Gonet Blanc de Blanc and Boscarelli Vino Nobile de Montepulciano featuring prominently.
Circle Sixty Nine, 69, Sir Pochkhanawala Road, Worli, Mumbai; phone 81698 94240 69. Meal (without alcohol) for two starts ₹3,000.
Where three’s company: Naga Belly, Andheri West
When close friends Watirenla Longkumer and Zhuvikali Assumi, who prefer to go by Aren and Juliet (the names most people know them by) found themselves locked up at home during the pandemic, they turned to cooking. What started as a fun project soon became a serious business, and the duo became popular for their home-style Naga food in Mumbai.
The home kitchen, which was followed up with a cloud kitchen, is now a small restaurant in the upmarket Four Bungalows area and brings authentic Naga home food to Mumbai. According to Aren, who worked as a flight attendant until 2020, and Juliet, who was a fashion consultant in Mumbai, the endeavour is to bring the authentic flavours of their home state to a city that has been their adopted home for three and five years respectively.
The three-table restaurant, which opened in May this year, offers a peep into the simplicity of Naga cuisine as well as that of the 30-year-old founders from the Ao and Sema tribes of Nagaland. The self-funded restaurant has been styled minimally by the duo with white sheer curtains, cane lamps, and a large outline of Nagaland. It could very well be their living room where they cook and feed you with genuine warmth.
The dishes offered — axone, pork ribs, pork trotters and even local greens — showcase the simplicity of the cuisine and richness of its flavours, with minimal spice and oil. Ingredients are sourced by Aren and Juliet from their hometown through their friends and family to ensure the flavours and taste is close to home as possible.
Naga Belly, Four Bungalows, Andheri West, Mumbai ; phone 093219 87470. A meal for two starts ₹1,000.
Pretty petit café : Paul and Mike, Kemps Corner
Award-winning craft chocolate brand, Paul and Mike, has finally ventured into retail with a quaint little café at Kemps Corner in South Bombay. The café, conceived as a-hole-in-the-wall dessert and coffee place, offers a nook for you to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate and pastry, or catch up with a friend.
The space designed by Nikita Sethna reflects the brand’s character with rose-coloured walls, curvilinear nooks and chocolate as décor pieces. The idea, says Vikas Temani, founder and business head of Paul and Mike, is to create a neighbourhood joint where you can stop by for a quick coffee, a dessert, an ice cream or to restock your chocolate bars.
Paul and Mike, the artisanal Kerala-based ‘bean to bar’ chocolate, became the first Indian company to win a silver in the International Chocolate Awards (2020-2021 world final) for its 64% Sichuan Pepper and Orange Peel Vegan Chocolate.
Now, this neighbourhood market where locals descend for their evening coffee, post dinner desserts, and quick breakfasts, is an ideal spring board for the brand. The brand plans to open a series of cafés in Mumbai (which is also their biggest market)
The menu is balanced with a wide range of coffees by Bili Hu, chocolate-based drinks, pastries, croissants, savouries, and even kombucha. It will expand in the coming weeks. Don’t miss the kaapi niru, the barista’s blend of tropical coconut syrup and espresso, monsoon spiced hot chocolate, the signature dessert ‘Zero to 100’ made with different kinds of chocolate, pastries, and pain au chocolat — all made with their own chocolates, of course!
Paul and Mike, 109 Kwality House, Kemps Corner, Mumbai ; Phone 9544689996. A meal for two starts ₹600.