GPS: Shop No.5, Sagarika CHS, opp. Palm Grove Hotel, Juhu-Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai - 49
Tring Tring: +91-22- 26131522
Click: www.freemanandbaker.co.uk (site under construction)
In & Out: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Very rarely do we love a suburban restaurant enough that we wish it moved to town. But F&B deserves that honour. We went looking for a quick lunch and a hangover cure and what we found instead was a delightful little deli with a cheery space, great DIY sandwiches, a source of steak cuts for home grills (otherwise rare to find in Bombay) and a most affable owner Vishal Mehra.
|Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
Beverages consist of non-alcoholic bottled goodies like Snapple and Lipton Iced Tea which we don’t much care for so we cut to the chase to the grub directly. Our friend’s glazed hangover got proprietor Vishal briskly sending across black coffee alongwith a plate of ham and delish goat cheeses slices to (gr)ease the pain while Mariam and I finalized our selections. Since there isn’t a kitchen as such at F&B hot food options are limited to pre-baked quiches and readymade sandwiches alongwith budget comfort food like chicken lollipops, cutlets and puffs to please the college-going crowd. Our attention is piqued by the DIY sandwiches where one can choose their bread, meat and cheese combinations and have a designer sandwich whipped up for you under five minutes. We finally selected the Chicken n Mushroom quiche which was the perfect size for a meal-for-one with a crumbly base full of the goodness of shortnening melting into hunks of chicken and fleshy mushrooms. It was herby and flaky and not maxed out on cheese unlike many other city options and just the perfect comfort food after hard night of partying. Ditto for the Salami Milano sandwich with Emmenthal slices in multigrain bread where the rich spiciness of the meat was offset by the Emmenthal’s more subdued supporting act resulting in a gorgeous duo of flavours on the palate. However the other sandwich of garlic salami with herbed Gouda cheese on whole-wheat bread was a bit of a taste collision as the meat’s flavours got hijacked by the dominatrix cheese. Note to self: garlic salami needs a delicate cheese to give it company, maybe the goat cheese? Desserts came in the form of two perfectly respectable brownies - a gooey chocolate and a walnut version.
|Chicken n Mushroom quiche Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
|Garlic salami sandwich with herbed Gouda Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
|Salami Milano sandwich with Emmenthal Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
While the cheese and cold cut selection is on par with Godrej Nature’s Basket (albeit with the sandwich-on-the-spot option as a classic deli should be) what really had us nodding in appreciation was the wide variety of fishes and meat available for cooking. Seafood included scallops, yellow fin tuna, grilled eel, soft-shell crab and Atlantic & black cod while the meat selection included baby-back ribs, lamb shanks, pork chops, tenderloin, rib-eye & T-bone steak cuts, raw foie gras, butterball turkey etc. they even had an interesting collection of mock-meats that any China visitor will be acquainted with; those mystery delicious morsels of soya that taste exactly like meat while being vegetarian! They have faux scallops, chicken nuggets, Beijing duck, and fragrant mutton among other varieties. While Indigo deli has sold some of this stuff around the year F&B certainly has more ready availability with a printed list and offers to home deliver on orders of Rs.1000 & above – very easily doable if say, cooking steaks for a dinner party at home.
|Gooey chocolate and walnut Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
Crowd V/s Company
Make no mistake; F&B is tiny! However they use their minimal space with intelligence, grace and lack of pretense. So there are no illusory mirrors or countertop dining, but what they do have is pop tablecloths in happy floral prints, French-inspired wooden chairs, wall shelves packed with sauces, noodles, snacks and a deli counter stuffed with fresh cheeses and meats. Our host Vishal Mehra is exactly what we always hope for, honest affable, decorous – but-not-obsequious and a genuine food lover (Vishal apparently chucked up a 22-year corporate career to bring us these delish fresh sandwiches, what a wise man!). He most accommodatingly laid out the hunks of cheese and meat on the tables for us to click away in peace as well. As we finish our lunch and get ready to leave we see myriad loyalists stroll in; some arty types borrowed from Prithvi and a gravity-defying afro that didn’t belong to Imaad Shah for starters! Apparently it’s a magnet for the nearby BBM students of neighboring colleges as well.
|Photo - Mariam Mamaji|
Inveterate townies that we are we always shudder at paucity of credible choices for a quality fuss-free meal north of Bandra but F&B carries a familiar whiff of town, class, affordability and (at least as of now!) no wannabes. You bet we’ll be back!