A board near the entrance announces a disclaimer: “We are teething, please bear with us.” Considering most restaurants do need time to settle down with their food and their staff, this would seem like a legitimate request. But Café Zoe appears to have had enough dry runs to make sure even Day 1 on Tuesday went without a glitch.
Located in Mathuradas Mill Compound in Lower Parel, Café Zoe combines all the goodness of the old mill enclosures with modern-day dining requirements.
High sloping ceilings are interrupted by glass panes to allow daylight to stream into the all-day café. Unfinished brick walls on some sides add a sense of the rustic while simple, light-coloured wood tables create the sense of informality necessary for a café.
The place encourages you to lounge, rather than hurry through a visit, with a set of brightly coloured sofas on a raised platform. A bookshelf with newspapers among other reading material will come to the aid of the unaccompanied visitor, as will the Wi-Fi.
Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
A mezzanine floor will soon add another 50-odd in seating to the existing 70. Long tangled wires hang from the ceiling, ending in little light bulbs, passing through the mezzanine floor and dangling over a gap on top of the bar, for an eccentric touch of elegance. The café can easily transform into a night-time destination with a prominent bar and space for a possible DJ.
Café Zoe keeps its food simple, as is fitting for an all-day diner. The café-brasserie-bar has an all-day breakfast menu that includes “home-made” scones (Rs150), salads, soups, sandwiches in a wide range of breads, pastas, grills, roasts, seafood and an adequate selection of alcohol. The Zoe’s tenderloin (cheese) burger (Rs380), for instance, is no-fuss meat in bread with crunchy fries; the mini lamb burger (Rs285) is a useful addition to bar food, among others, besides the regular nuts, olives and cheese.
In the mains, the basa fillet with parsley butter (Rs450) comes with an interesting topping of almonds and an uncomplicated confluence of flavours. All servings are in proportions appropriate for one person.
A delicatessen also offers pre-packaged salads, fruits and snacks for office goers with limited lunch breaks, though they don’t do deliveries yet.
The cherry tomato and goat cheese crostini (Rs210) suffers a bit because of the quality of bread; it might need something easier to slice. The fried chicken wings (Rs250) are not for the faint-hearted, even if they come with a warning of hot sauce.
The baked cheese cake has two significant differences to the traditional cheese cake one has come to expect. It does not have a biscuit base—neither a desirable thick nor a passable thin one—and comes heated. Maybe it’s just an acquired taste.
Weight-watching vegetarians may find few things without cream or cheese.
Soups range from Rs150-210, salads cost Rs250 on average, vegetarian sandwiches come at Rs250, while non-vegetarian ones are Rs210-400. Seafood ranges between Rs310 and Rs615, while desserts are Rs120-190.
Though not inexpensive, for its location, size and pleasant ambience, Café Zoe is value for money, and a welcome addition to the new business and entertainment hub of the city.
Café Zoe, Todi/Mathuradas Mill Compound, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel. Open daily, 7.30am-1.30am.