The only thing I knew about Pali Village Café (in Bandra, Bombay/Mumbai) before this was that “Ranbir Kapoor goes there”. This from an ex-colleague and FB friend of mine. Ranbir no doubt goes there with his best pal, Ayan Mukerji, I added to myself. (This from a promo of theirs I watched before the release of their last collab together, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, where they are shown hanging around food joints in Bombay.) And so no doubt, it’s pricey. Despite this pricey perception (and perhaps because of the film-starry perception), my friend and I found myself in it last Sunday afternoon. After the nearby places she had suggested were too small and thus too full and after I put a stop to any more of her choices with the interventive, “I want a place that’s less claustrophobic and more airy, AC or non-AC is not a factor.”
And so we stepped into PVC. And I found it to be both. But no Ranbir Kapoor. (No harm, no? It was a hot, lazy Sunday afternoon, and he could just be there, drowning his post-Kat-breakup sorrows, with or without Ayan.) It was just after core lunch-time, so we found tables aplenty – people were either winding up their Sunday lunch/brunch or a couple of stragglers were entering. We took a table near the entrance. The setting was a charm. Retro/Industrial, exposed brick wall interiors, which seem pretty much to be the norm in hip, happening eateries these days. Not-too-bright, not-too-hot sunlight streaming in through the glass exteriors. The soft tinkle of glasses, china and conversations in the air. A genial-looking gentleman who seemed to be the owner hovering around gently with a smile.
We finished going through the menu (it isn’t that pricey), and Mr Genial came up to our table. His geniality was accentuated up by his salt-and-pepper hair (on the scalp and beard), a stand-out thing for me (as I run this campaign on FB celebrating celebs and folks who dare to keep their gray hair gray, with the hashtag #GrayIsYay). In fact, there was much so much salt and pepper on his visage that if our upcoming food had any shortage of the two condiments we could well have shaken it off his face.
Mr Genial / Salt n Peppa laughed when we asked him if he was the owner, with “I wish!” He said he was “only” the manager. Pleasantries over, we got down to business. My friend was clear about her order. Me, I was happy to notice there was quite a bit of vegan stuff – from quinoa upma to tofu-and-something salad (after reading ‘tofu’, vegan folk, I guess, just glaze over everything else) to smoothies they could make with soy milk if needed – but was still, or rather, due to this, not sure what to go for. I decided to do the best thing when in a quandary: check with Mr Wish-He-Were-Owner. Mr WHWO (his actual name, from what I remember, is either Vishal or Manish Upadhyay) suggested the quinoa upma (as I told him I wasn’t too hungry) and the cinnamon apple ice tea to wash it down with. The ingredients of a pie in a clear, cold tea? I was intrigued.
Our food came quickly enough, and between bites and conversation bytes, I looked around: a few expats and foreigners enjoying an easy Sunday afternoon – a possibly Korean couple with their baby and a couple of possibly Japanese ladies with a possibly Goan host. And of course, my Armenian friend in front of me. Pali Village was a veritable International Village. But still no desi Ranbir Kapoor.
Wondering if the Ranbir Kapoor story was a myth, I ventured to check this with Mr Salt-and-Pepper Upadhyay. He affirmed that RK had indeed come there, but just once, when it had opened, not after that, but the story had carried forward to “RK comes there”. No problemo. The food was good enough. My quinoa upma (I had finally had ki-noah) was A-fine, tasting like upma-meets-broken wheat and the apple-pie-in-a-glass sizzled too, or rather, soothed. Perfectly light, cool stuff for a warm afternoon. In fact, due to the setting and the conversation and the food, I felt the stirrings of drowsiness, and so asked for a coffee. They couldn’t make soy-milk coffee due to the limitations of their machine, so settled for good old americano; but nothing to review there as you can’t go wrong with that good old black coffee.
I paid up, thanked Mr Genial / Salt-and-Pepper / WHWO / Vishal-Manish Upadhyay, and got to get up. And in he walked. No, not Ranbir Kapoor, but another star son. Mimoh aka Mahaakshay Chakraborty, s/o Mithunda. Oh, well, something’s better than nothing. Just what you can say about any vegan-friendly place, I guess. No, wait, PVC actually rocks. Thanks to its numerous vegan options, chilled-out setting, and not the least, a genial and owner-hopeful manager.
You can connect with Pali Village Café on FB here: PVC on FB