Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Face-off: Mumbai’s three new health cafés

It started with just a few one-off, stand-alone salad shops (think Suzette and Bombay Salad Co.) and healthy add-ons to the menus of our favourite restaurants (like Smoke House Deli). But the health fad is now launching a full-blown takeover of Mumbai’s restaurant scene. This is a post-workout test of the city’s newest wellness-focused eateries.

Sequel, Bandra (West)

Excluded food groups: gluten and refined sugar. The smoothies incorporate at least two-three different kinds of nut milk. But this doesn’t win you a whole lot of karma points since most of the ingredients are sourced from “far corners of the world", as the menu put it. The vegan smoothie made with cashew milk, raspberry and sour cherry, and sprinkled with Mexican dark chocolate, Peruvian cacao nibs and chia seeds (Rs475), is delicious. Carnivores can relax, there’s Norwegian salmon, prawns and eggs on the menu.

Instagram index: When we visited, a model and a celebrity fashion designer were photographing practically everything on the menu. The overall design is reminiscent of the French crêperie Suzette—dark wooden benches, chairs with rattan latticework and seats with Ikat cushions in neutral shades. It helped that it was raining outside and Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were playing on the stereo.

Cravings on the rebound: You won’t run out for a burger after a meal here. The Proso millet and green-pea patties served with an avocado mush and harissa paste (Rs525), and a zoodle-based salad called Con Artist (Rs580) with some more avocado, edamame, cranberries, walnuts, feta and tendli in a simple lime and olive oil dressing, are both delicious. Eastern Promise (Rs485) will fill you up: a stir-fry of organic red and black rice noodle dish with bell peppers, leeks and mushrooms in tahini sauce. All three dishes were quite acidic, the menu has plenty of options under salads and mains, and some appealing flourless desserts.

Talk plastic: Rs2,500 for a meal for two with a salad, two mains, a cold-pressed juice and a smoothie.

Sequel, Solace building, Shop No.2, 33rd Road, Bandra (West) (7506477710). Open daily from 9.30am-10.30pm.

Saboro, Churchgate

Excluded food groups: just meat. All the other ingredients are paired with each other on the menu under strange portmanteaus like Lettucchini Pepprooms (Rs159), a filling salad made with—you guessed it—lettuce, sautéed zucchini, red bell peppers, mushrooms and eggplant with paneer in a basil vinaigrette and a smoothie called Cinana Appilk (Rs149). The menu—annoyingly—also lists the calorie count for all dishes.

Instagram index: You’re probably not going to take a lot of photographs here. Saboro is a brand of fresh produce by Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and the Saboro Lounge is an extension to propagate “healthy indulgence", according to the conglomerate’s official press release. The café is cosy and decent to look at—with cream- and teal-coloured upholstery and white walls. The food is served in melamine plates and bowls; it tastes better than it looks.

Cravings on the rebound: No need to run out for a calorie kick after a meal here, but you might feel like running out for something a bit healthier. In our order, only the Carrot Onion Soup (Rs99) with parsley and the Lettucchini Pepprooms salad fit the definition of diet food. The Hummus Pie (Rs199) was just a lot of hummus slathered on a ready-made pizza base topped with bell peppers and processed cheese. The Fruit Shawarma (Rs199) is a mismatch of paneer and apple slices with some more of the chickpea hummus. The milkshake of banana, apple and almonds with cinnamon felt rather indulgent.

Talk plastic: Rs957 for a soup, a salad, a juice, a smoothie and two main dishes.

Saboro, Moti Mahal, 195, Jamshedji Tata Road, Churchgate (8291603484). Open daily from 8am to 10pm.

Vibe Liquiteria, Bandra (West)

Excluded food groups: dairy. Like Sequel and Saboro, Vibe Liquiteria’s menu is built around its juices and smoothies. The health-conscious and vegan owner said he also tries to minimize the use of heat in food preparation. On the flip side, processed ingredients were used in the dishes.

Instagram index: It has all the makings of a hip Bandra start-up. Slick grey and orange interiors with modular furniture and plastic chairs, black crockery and paper cups that read, “Go ahead. Say It. We know you’re vegan" or “Stop staring at my smoothie".

Cravings on the rebound: Dessert was missed. The food quality and portion size at Vibe Liquiteria were better than at the two other contenders. There are just four dishes on the menu. Our favourite was the My Japanese Girlfriend (Rs399), a salad made up of snow peas, edamame, French beans, broccoli and silken tofu on a bed of spicy red cabbage in a refreshing miso, wasabi and mirin dressing. The two others we tried included a Thai-inspired Tom Yum fried rice made with brown, black and bamboo rice called The Wild Vibe (Rs399) and a salad called Kale Ceasar Wale (Rs375) made with Hyderabadi-style morsels of spicy Chicken 65 in a cashew cream dressing.

The highlight was a smoothie called Ashwem Sunset (Rs399), a creamy blend of avocado and hemp seeds with pomegranate juice, spinach, berries and pineapple. Earthy smell, buttery texture and nutty, slightly savoury—it’s a great new taste.

Talk plastic: Rs2,000 for two drinks, a salad and two mains.

Vibe Liquiteria, Rafi Mansion, 28th Road, Linking Road, Bandra (West) (9930113758). Open daily from 9am-10pm.

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