Tuesday 26 May 2015

Cafe Infinito - Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai

As I stared into the infinite vastness of the blue below me and blue above me, I wondered how significant I really was in the universe and how small me ship was. Suddenly, me serene thoughts were disturbed by the radio operator who loudly announced that someone wants to talk to me on the open frequency. The person on the other side of the radio extended an invitation to a restaurant somewhere in the blue seas. Intrigued by the restaurant's name, I promptly set course for it. Then I went back to the bow of the ship and stared at the never ending horizon. Me hair swayed in the gentle ocean breeze. I smiled, "Yo Ho ho, Towards Cafe Infinito."

Those who have read my work before are aware of my love for the sea and the stars. The sea and the cosmos are two domains that are always associated with infinity. So when I got an invitation to visit Cafe Infinito (which means Infinity in Italian), I was naturally intrigued. Bandra Kurla Complex has in recent times become a stellar nursery for restaurants. Many a stars are born here. Cafe Infinito is located on Trident road leading to the Trident hotel. It faces a building that looks like a misplaced Sauron's Eye.(Sauron got his eye kicked down to his abdomen somehow)

Cafe Infinito is quite big for a Cafe. I have seen smaller restaurants than this. In some sense it embodies a feeling of infinity. However, the tables and seating accommodations are typical to that of any Cafe. The bar looks nice and I was rather interested in imagining how it would appear at night. The lighting suggests a colorful and a vibrant experience at night. The furniture, the bar, the lighting and the mood makes the establishment appear very comfortable. A place where one could keep eating and talking till infinity or closing hours.

I joined a few friends on a communal table by the window. As we steered into some chatter and banter, our drinks started to arrive.

Choosing to go teetotaler for the day, I ordered a Mango and passion fruit smoothie.  I found the lack of Chocolate flavored drinks on the menu disturbing. But this be the season of Mango, so who am I to say no? Savvy?

The flavor was satisfying but it tasted much like a Mango smoothie and I could not even sense a whiff of Passion fruit anywhere. Its likely that it got overpowered by the Mango. Thus fair to say that it was missing a bit of passion.

Since this was a special meet organized by the restaurant management, we were to try out a special menu that had a few of their regular items and some new offerings. But the management did not restrict us to this menu as we did order a thing or two from the regular menu.

Fire Cracker Prawns was an aesthetically pleasing dish. The batter was artistically wrapped around the prawns in a form reminiscent of ribbons. The batter was not too thick and the prawn beneath was crunchy and tasty. There was a juicy and salty-savory taste in each bite. The taste was indeed a cracker of an experience. Although for some odd reason, I felt that this should have been a tad bit spicy and perhaps a bit colorful.

Baked Brie was a scrumptious puff pastry with soft gooey Brie within. Brie is often known as the queen of cheeses and rightfully so. The consistency within was soft and almost gelatinous. The flavor was salty and mildly savory. It was quite a satisfying morsel. The plating was so beautiful that it sent most of us clicking after it just like a bunch of Paparazzi chasing a female celebrity in a risqué attire.

Captain : These little cheese pockets are quite addicting.

Crewmate : Aiyee...mmggh Ugreee.

Captain : Speaking with your mouth full is rude...HEY did you just stuff down all the Brie?

Hooters style Chicken wings were a bit of an oddity in a cafe that serves Italian/Continental. But I am not complaining as it does pay some tribute to the original best seller. The chicken was nice and juicy. But it was not really Hooter's chicken wings. It was a little messy and draped in sauce which is opposed to the actual chicken wings in Hooters. Though I really don't care about the jazzed up name, the chicken itself was great.

Jalapeno Poppers didn't quite have the pop that I was expecting. While the bread crumbs did give it a fine texture, I felt that the crust was a bit too thick and hard. The stuffing also felt a little bland. I have definitely had better.

Cypriot Mix Salad is an item that I have come across for the first time. It was visibly enticing and appears somewhat like a colorful universe of star clusters and the like. This salad was actually pleasing to a palate that otherwise detests pure greens. Although, a little bit of research suggests that this could have been a bit greener in appearance and have included baby capers. However, the colorful mix was both tasteful and healthy. The addition of Lentils, Pomegranate and flax would put it on the radars of health buffs easily.

Captain : Flax, Lentils, Pomegranate... Seems like stuff a gym bloke would love.

Crewmate : Hmm, the cannoneer would have loved it.

Captain : That wretched fella loves everything lad. That's why I never take him with me to restaurants.

The Crispy Asian salad however put me back on my salad panning moods. It had a very uninspired and banal flavor even with its flamboyant appearance. Despite the presence of tortilla strips, the salad lacked crispiness. To put an apt analogy for the two salads, I'd say that it was like a newcomer batsman running out the well settled batsman on the other end.

Banana and Bacon Baguette is a sandwich combination that is remarkably tasty despite being less known in India. The sweet mashed bananas compliment the salty bacon strips well. In fact, this was almost close to the famous Elvis Sandwich which has an addition of peanut butter. This wasn't my first time with this sandwich as I have had a similar variant more than a decade ago. Infinito's baguette sandwich was very satisfying. Fair enough to say that the king has entered the building.

Captain : This sandwich brings back memories.

Crewmate : Of the time when you were a regular sailor and your Captain hogged all the food?

Captain : I started out as the Captain lad. 

Agilo Olio Mushroom on Focaccia is made out of soft "melt in your mouth" mushrooms cooked in a Garlic-Olive oil paste. The mushroom topping itself tastes well but somehow the Focaccia didn't quite match with the mushroom concoction. It was a bit like pairing Han Solo and Captain Kirk together. Great people on their own but a mismatch together.

Chicken Roulade is like a Swiss roll made out of meat. A roll made out of Chicken and chicken skin to make one gigantic rolled up sausage and then cut to slices. Infinito's version was perfect on visuals with the potato mashing plated extremely well. The item was garnished with Beaujolais wine. While the exterior elements worked well on this one, the taste was a bit disappointing. The flavor had not sunk in properly leaving a majority of the meat tasting a bit bland and leathery.

This was my first time with Chicken Cafreal which is a Goan delicacy. The infinito kitchen does bring out some interesting dishes. A few of my friends mentioned that it lacked spice. I would nod to that. The dish did feel as a fence sitter to avoid backlash from those with a low spice tolerance. However, the chicken drumsticks were quite juicy and were cooked well. The pink core suggested Medium rare meat. The wedges were wrapped with non hot spices and complimented the meat. The dish also looked very appetizing with its presentation. Is it real? No its Cafreal.

Sri Lankan curry with rice was one of the best rice dishes that I have ever had. The red curry preparation tasted equally well with both Prawns and Chicken but I positively enjoyed the prawn variant more. The concoction did feel a little less authentic compared to the original Sri Lankan curry but it was still a tangy tasty coconut curry with a heavenly tropical aroma. It was almost akin to having summer on a plate.

Captain : This feels closer to Thai Red curry.

Crewmate : Who cares? Its tasty.

Captain : Thats true. I just felt that I should say it.

Crewmate : For whom? Its just the two of us here.

Mushroom Timbale did not have a very appetizing appearance. The semolina base had very little say in the dish as the taste was dominated by the tangy mushrooms on the top. The red spicy soup below also appeared to be very atypical of Timbale preparations and it was too thin in its consistency. It should have been tending more towards a paste like consistency. This dish could use some work.

Cottage Cheese Moussaka was a turn off for me. Usually a Moussaka is supposed be a well defined three layered structure of meat, vegetables and a paste or custard at the top. This vegetarian variant had two large pieces of cottage cheese piled on top of each other, interspersed with a little vegetable. There was a lot of spiced Tomato paste in and around the dish. The flavor was mostly dominated by the Paneer. Tasty Paneer yes, Moussaka No.

The Greek Pizza felt all right but it was more of an extended variant of a regular veggie pizza. The Feta despite its abundance did not quite make the pizza feel Greek. I might be a little biased here since the idea of a meatless Greek Pizza did not fit in too well with me.

That was a lot of grub and the spotlight finally moved on to the desserts.
The Chocolate Truffle Cake was a tad bit dry and crumby on the outside but the Ganache within was quite rich and sweet. The item had been plated quite well. The cream topping layer looked quite pretty with a generous addition of edible glitter on it.

Captain : Why are ya looking at me like that lad?

Crewmate : I am trying to find out the dessert's quality.

Captain : And how can you find that out by looking at me? 

Crewmate : Trust me, I will.

Tiramisu needs a fair bit of work. While the coffee dominated the top, the lower layers seemed to be devoid of any flavor. It was almost as if my journey into the infinite flavors hit a void of bland cream. It was creamy all right but it lacked the typical Tiramisu flavor that was expected. It was neither bitter nor sweet down there.

Baked Yoghurt was perhaps the best plated dessert of the day. It almost resembled a Panna Cotta. And like the arms of a Galaxy, a tart cherry compote stretched from the Yoghurt core to the far reaches of the plate. However, a Panna Cotta perhaps would have done better in its place. The Yoghurt tasted very ordinary, just like the ones I am used to having everywhere else.

Baked Philadelphia Cheesecake was pure perfection when it comes to Cheesecakes. Its a true cheesecake made with Philadelphia cream cheese. I have had too many unbaked cheesecakes, eggless cheesecakes and other forms of pseudo Cheesecakes in Mumbai. Every once in a while, I come across the real deal and it makes me jump in the air with joy. The texture, the consistency, the shortbread biscuit layer and the flavor were all at a hundred percent. The tantalizing aroma and the creamy sweet taste were at a delightful harmony. This dessert sent my taste buds on a high. A perfect way to end any meal. If you have a cheesecake craving then Infinito will fulfill it.

Captain : One day I will trade me sea ship for a space ship.

Crewmate : Go on.

Captain : And then with this cheesecake, I will go into hyper drive and onto the far reaches of infinite space.

Crewmate : Bingo! Good enough dessert to get the Cappy high.

The service at Infinito was professional and organized. Ours was a big table and the servers worked hard to make it a glitch free experience.

The pricing is on par with some of the modest priced pubs and cafes across town like BBC. In fact, its even cheaper on some of its better items like the Cheesecake. This potentially makes Infinito a great place to regularly visit.

Cafe Infinito true to its name has an infinite experience in store. One could always come here again and again to try something new. The prices are well within most people's reach, the location is great and the grub is delicious. This is not to say that Infinito is perfect. It still has some issues to sort but there is definitely potential. Lots of potential.

The Captain's Score : 7/10

"From Infinito to Infinity and beyond. Time to go under the twin blue infinities again lads. Until next time."

Map Co-Ordinates

Cafe Infinito
G Block, Raheja Tower,
Bandra Kurla Complex,
Bandra East, Mumbai

-I was invited to a tasting event organized by the Restaurant. Special Thanks go to Assad Dadan of Medium and Rare.-

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