When in Bombay… you’re welcomed by a cacophony of bustling sounds and an uncanny smell tinged with hints of the sea; it gives you a feeling of nostalgia and mystery all at one go. Once acclimatized, Bombay’s hustle and bustle allows no one to rest, instead it tunes you to follow along with its promising rhythm- one we were willing to get serenaded by.
What brought us to Bombay? The Kala Ghoda Art Festival (a must visit) and a quest to find the best caramel custard *wink*. With just 3 days at hand, iPhones charged and bags packed, we set off on our trip. Adventure triggered? Check.
Stay: The Gordon House
Location. Location. Location. This charming boutique hotel is literally a hop, skip and a jump away from the Mondegar Cafe and Bar Stock Exchange (ka-ching!), a 500m sprint away from the Gateway of India, and approximately a 10 minute walk away from Kala Ghoda.
Bonus points go to the amazing service, friendly staff and the delish breakfast spread that has everything from aloo puri to bacon strips. Word of advise- book your room well in advance, this hotel is literally a hot spot for tourists.
Eat: Leopold Cafe
If you’re at Colaba Causeway, you know its criminal not to visit Leopold’s, even if it’s just to try out the caramel custard. Our recommendations which were recommended by a very helpful Swaroop, go as mutton kheema and pav, coriander and chilly fish, and beef chilli dry (actually bu-ffaa-low).
Visit: Colaba Causeway
What you’ll find- Lennon sunnies, bling galore and clothing that appeals to every pocket. Colaba Causeway is a treasure trove for knick-knacks. We must warn you to arm yourself with patience and practice your bargaining skills. If they say 500 – you know the drill – give no more than 250.
Destination: Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2016
Curated by music, art lovers and culture aficionados, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is a true celebration of the arts. From larger-than-life-installations to yummy food, the festival generally goes on for nine days (phew!). With so much to take in, from the art installations to the stalls and street plays, we suggest you cover it over at least two days.
Warning: You will face obstacles like SLRs shooting in all directions, selfie sticks with sword-like slays and teens putting their #squadgoals to the test.
Here’s how we tackled KGAF- we split it down to the middle and covered the right stalls on Day 1 and the left stalls on Day 2 & 3. As for the installations in the middle, if you find yourself a spot, grab it before it goes. First come, first view it, OK?
When you’re done trying to “understand” the depth of the art, you should visit the stalls, and well, expect your salary to be wiped clean. From organic packaged food to Lego-inspired jewellery, the stalls were a delight to stop-stare-and-shop at. Designers to look out for- Studio Kassa, Metaphor Racha (from namma Bengaluru) & Absynthe by Abhisekh Basak.
Next up: Bar Stock Exchange & Colaba Social
After making it out of Kala Ghoda (bruise-free), we gleefully decided we were up for playing with some liquid stocks at Bar Stock Exchange. Mix some merry spirits with some gamification and you’re sure to have a good time here. Psst… from noon to 4pm, the drinks are on MRP and post 6pm, the games begin.
Once the demand for Bombay Sapphire increased, we decided our time was up and we headed to good ol’ Social, which again, is in the same area (Colaba) but much smaller than the Todi Mill Social *shrugs shoulders*.
Now, if you’ve decided to do the whole “night about town” thingy, you really can’t pass up on Bademiya. Dare you do that! With a hunger-inducing menu that can only be sufficed by mutton kababs and bheja fry, don’t be surprised if you call for seconds. No judging, we promise. Also, the card machine doesn’t seem to work much, please carry enough moolah.
Our day started early, with us walking down to the Gateway of India and watching the sun rise, followed by a hearty breakfast at the hotel and then a meeting with Harsha Bhogle. Psst… he loved his Louis Philippe blazers and so did the Aussies! After that, we took a stroll down Hughes Road and took in the magnificent architecture that brought to mind scenes from Bombay Velvet, when we spotted a very retro-looking café.
Eat: Café New York, Hughes Road
Okay, so this place has a Compact Disc juke box!!! And the caramel custard is darn good. However, the waiter wasn’t too happy that we didn’t have more grub, but we’d definitely visit again.
Next up, we went over to visit Vaishali S in her beautiful studio which is right next to Sachin Tendulkar’s house. Easy directions for the cabbie, right? Her gorgeous new collection has a splash of bright colours, ornate embroidery with rustic finishing and a line-up of eccentric silhouettes. Your #bridalshopping should start here.
While we were in the area, we caught a quick bite at The Bagel Shop on Carter Road, Bandra. The quaint café has a hearty menu filled with sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes and salads. Our fav pick- the Goan chorizo bagel with cream cheese. Yum-a-dum!
Relax: Sukho Thai Spa
So by now, we’ve literally been walking all over the place, apart from our ride from Nariman Point to Bandra, only because they don’t let you walk on Sea Link! Well, that’s our excuse to get pampered and we have no regrets. After an hour long massage, we decided the best thing to do was to head back to the Colaba and see what Kala Ghoda looks like at night. Apart from the festival, this area is also the perfect destination for any art aficionado; from the National Gallery of Modern Art to streets that double up as walk-through museums, you’re sure to get mesmerized by the art on display. Note: Look out for the Ticket Art, he does some amazing paintings with ticket stubs and has a good story to tell.
Eat Again: Havana Café & Bar, The Gordon House
Visit Havana on the weekdays and it’s a perfect place for you to enjoy a quiet meal and some music, come weekend and it’s a club on fire! The décor transports you to the streets of Havana, with mosaic tiled paths, rustic paintings on the walls and dim-lighting that mimics local bars. Rumour has it, that Havana has some of the best cocktails in the area, however we settled for lime soda and pan seared prawns in citrine sauce which were divine!
Visit: Kala Ghoda Art Festival
We headed out to go explore the left-side of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival. A lesser crowd that early on in the morning, we decided to stroll through the stalls and spend some revisiting some of the art installations. We also walked around the area and found a few designer stores and restaurants like Mamagoto and The Kala Ghoda Café.
Eat: Café Mondegar
Again, if you’re in Colaba, you really shouldn’t skip on Mondegar’s. The iconic café is known to serve up some of the yummiest plates and also double up as a gallery of Mario Miranda’s illustrations which are painted all over the walls. While some swear by the prawn rice, we think you should start with the bruschettas (cheese lovers galore). Oh and we had the caramel custard (again).
Indulge: Lakeview Cafe
After taking a stroll through Fashion Street (major disappointment!), we decided to walk down to Marine Drive and hopefully catch a beautiful sun set into the Indian Ocean. Strolling through unknown alleys, quietly observing the everyday hustle of Mumbaikars, we happened to chance upon Lakeview Cafe. What caught our attention? The fancy bus converted in a fruit bar getup and a sign saying “strawberries and cream”. And sold we were.
Indulge Part Deux: Le15
Sometimes luck surprises you in the sweetest ways. What were the chances that we’d bump into Pooja Dhingra at Le15 in Colaba!? It was a dulce moment and we got our very own Big Book of Treats signed #fangirlmoment. And if you do visit Le15, make sure you order a Nutella Brownie. Also, by now, our hearts are singing along to Bombay’s tune. #valentinescameearly
So, after 3 caramel custards in 3 days, we finally set back, rubbed our happy bellies, packed away our Kala Ghoda goodies and bid adieu to the city of dreams… till we meet again.
Psst… let us know what your favourite joints are in Bombay? Did we miss out?