It was last month that Mumbai’s F&B industry started buzzing with the news of the upcoming launch of the Flea Bazaar Cafe in the corporate hub of Kamala Mills in Lower Parel, and of course, the place managed to catch the attention of many a curious foodies. An initiative by The Impresario Group, this is a market place which brings under one roof fourteen eateries catering to different cuisines – a food court? Yes and no.
The first thing that strikes you when you enter Flea Bazaar Cafe is the loud and vibrant ambience. It is almost like a carnival inside four walls, with a crowd that consisted of various age-groups and multiples QSRs trying their best to cater to the need of every single one of them. From the popular Goila Butter Chicken, Del Italia, El Chapo, Tunday Kababi, Chakhna by Soam and WhatsAppam to a central bar powered by Social, there is something for everyone.
This is a concept that I’d call a Next Gen Food Court. Why?
Because of the simple format of having multiple places under one roof, which serve different cuisines, BUT what makes it different is the fact that unlike regular food courts, this sticks to a dedicated theme and has comfortable seating along with experimental menus. It is an upmarket food court format which might just be what a lot of people would love. Plus, it sort of makes it perfect for families and young corporates, as there’s a representation of every cuisine – Mexican, Japanese, Indian (pure veg), Italian, Indian (Lucknowi), Indian (Bohri), Indian (South), Chinese and American. Also, the pay-and-eat format makes everything less congested and simple.
On my first visit here I tried aamras-batata-puri and shrikhand-poori at Chakhna by Soam. I have been a regular at the original Soam in Babulnath since many years and it is a place I love to visit often for it homely food. I recently also became friends with Pinky Chandan Dixit, the owner of Soam and she explained to me the concept behind Soam i.e home away from home. So well, it was refreshing to see a Soam QSR at Flea Bazaar Cafe because there was already an established familiarity with this new setup. The food as usual was great, though the staff needs more training in promptness with this new concept.
I also ordered mushroom naan bombs from Goila Butter Chicken, a dish which I’ve only tasted in passing when Chef Saransh Goila, the mastermind behind this eatery had brought it along with him to a friend’s house party. Loved these, of course!
It was the Keralite QSR – WhatsAppam which impressed me the most, though. Designed like a typical Keralite toddy shop, this place serves experimental Kerala fare. I ordered the Kerala stew with appam, and needless to say, I am totally going back for that, again and again. Delicious, is an understatement for this.
My friend who accompanied me tried the famous Tunday kebab with Tunday paratha, from Tunday Kebabi – the legendary lucknow restaurant. He seemed happy with it. However, he was quick to add the difference in the softness of the paranthas and the texture of the kebabs, from what he’d tasted in Tunday Kebabi in Lucknow. Barring that, it was a happy, comfortable evening.
It was quite unsurprising to find Flea Bazaar Café being packed to the hilt on a mid-week holiday, and even when we left the place at around 10pm, the buzz of the booming crowd was intact. It is difficult to start a restaurant in an area that literally has more eating options than one can count. But, the geniuses behind Flea Bazaar Café have used this very point to come up with a place that stands out from every other. It is not a single restaurant with an elaborate menu flaunting fifteen different types of paneer platters. Instead, it is a conglomeration of sorts that puts big value on aesthetics – an element that many restaurant-goers prioritise now when choosing a place. Plus, it provides quick retailers of a bunch of Mumbai’s favourite restaurants, and this combination makes it a place that everyone would love to go back to.
*This is not a sponsored post or a review. It was done independently by the author.
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