Café Nemo does have a cute, likeable name, but the food is far from outstanding, says Shirley Mistry
W hen I first heard about Café Nemo, it was from a couple of friends who were raving about how quaint and quirky it is. Dismissing them as the usual, excitable suspects who throng to any new eatery that Mumbai has to offer, I put off my visit, wanting to wait till the buzz had subsided. However, when I was asked to review it, I wanted to know what the big deal was. With a name that instantly reminded me of the adorable animated character, I was piqued.
Tucked away in Worli village, Café Nemo is slightly hard to spot if you aren’t looking for it. Nestled in what was an erstwhile residential bungalow, the yellow exteriors are certainly inviting. Step in, and a warm, contemporary atmosphere greets you. Diving right into the menu, we decided to start off with the Thai Bloody Mary (Rs 455) and Southern Exposure (Rs 537). The bloody mary is a spin on the usual recipe, with the addition of Thai chillies, kaffir lime and galangal. In all honesty, it tasted like watered down tomato juice, lacking all three classic ingredients and even the vodka! Southern Exposure fared better, with the gin, lime, celery juice and sugar making it a refreshing drink. We also tried the Ay Caramba! (Rs 537) which is a blend of tequila, lime cordial and chipotle honey. The flavours just didn’t work in this cocktail, making it hard to finish. Although the menu says that they use 60ml pours of alcohol in all cocktails, they all lacked the boozy punch you would expect. We were also disappointed that several other cocktails that we wanted to try weren’t available that day. We paired our drinks with two bar bites — the Candied Bacon (Rs 306) and the Chilli Cheese wantons (Rs 248), both of which were exceptional. The bacon was crisp and candy coated, whereas the cheese filling in the parcels was well spiced, with the crunchy filo casing making for the perfect contrast.
We also tried the Roasted Pumpkin and Feta Salad (Rs 286), where the pumpkin and feta were both in short supply, while the Pepperoni pizza (Rs 589), had a sour, flavourless sauce. We then tried the Loaded Black Bean Dip (Rs 364), Caramalised Pork Ribs (Rs 416) and Hot Truffled Shrimp (Rs 485). The black bean dip was average and the meat flaked off the caramalised pork ribs beautifully, but it was doused in what tasted like bottled sauce, leaving behind a rancid, vinegary taste. The shrimp came in a flavourful broth that we soaked up with chunks of crusty bread. Although stuffed, we sampled the Chicken Seoul Bowl (Rs 537) and Crispy Pimiento Chicken (Rs 485). The Seoul Bowl was inedible, with the promised chilli, peanuts and fried shallots missing from our bowl. The crispy chicken was below average, with no flavour shining through. However, the corn mash was delicious, airy, light and perfectly seasoned.
Put off by the Seoul Bowl, we were sceptical about dessert, but bravely ordered the Dark Chocolate Pot De Creme (Rs 286). It was rich, velvety and decadent all at once. With every mouthful offering a chocolatey experience, it is the only thing that I’d go back to Café Nemo for.