Doubling as hang-out spots, college canteens are popular for more reasons than just the food they serve. From gossip sessions to pulling pranks on buddies or even campaigning for fests, these eating joints provide the perfect ambience for almost every kind of college activity. Not to mention, the daily delight of savouring the special vada or frankie there. Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee from Indigo Deli reviews canteens across five city colleges and rates them according to the variety of food served, taste, nutrition and hygiene.
Jai Hind College, Churchgate
Ambience: In spite of not being spacious, it’s a chilled-out joint with an interesting waiting staff member - Pascoal D’souza aka John. A huge John Abraham fan, he will keep you entertained with stories about the actor’s student days in the college and even his newest film releases.
Food variety: Fair, with the usual south Indian and sandwich offerings; but this is the only college canteen that serves fruit drink Rio, which comes in wildberry and blueberry flavours.
Taste: The mirchi saada masala dosa (Rs. 15) was exceptionally good, accompanied by deliciously rich coconut and green chutneys. The chilly cheese sandwich (Rs. 20) was equally appealing.
Nutrition: Not bad, though the sandwich is loaded with cheese. But healthier options of sandwiches are also available.
Hygiene: Good. The kitchen is clean and the cooks wear caps.
NM/Mithibai/UPG College, Vile Parle (W)
Ambience: This canteen is bright and lively, with sunlight streaming in. Catering to students of three colleges, it’s also the hugest we’ve seen so far.
Food variety: Exceptional, with separate counters for different cuisines. Even lassi and faloodas boast of multiple options.
Taste: The popular Schezwan noodles (Rs. 55) were average and so was the cheese masala pav (Rs. 40). The pineapple and mara-mari juices (Rs. 32) were refreshing, though they came loaded with the cheaper sugar substitute — boora.
Nutrition: The popular dishes don’t seem nutritious though healthier options are available on the menu.
Hygiene: Preparations are clean and counters are organised.
St. Xavier’s College, Dhobi talao
Ambience: The canteen is huge with an island kitchen/serving area.
Food variety: Staggering, with options from Indian, Chinese, south Indian fare to chaats, paninis, frankies, fresh fruit juices and shakes.
Taste: Their special chicken cheese frankie (Rs. 35) is super, though the masala was a tad soggy. The grilled capsicum corn sandwich (Rs. 20) is a delight as well.
Nutrition: The brown sandwich bread is healthy and so is the chicken in the frankie, though not much can be done about the finely-ground flour (maida) that is used to prepare the wraps. Overall, with the variety available, the canteen’s a haven for the health-conscious. Also the variety indicates that food moves here and one doesn't have to worry about leftovers.
Hygiene: Clean and tidy.
St. Andrew’s College, Bandra (W)
Ambience: Overlooking the playground, Café Andre is a cosy eating place.
Food variety: Average, though on the day we went, many dishes on the menu were unavailable.
Taste: A lack of options led us to try the chicken burger (Rs. 25), which had a tasteless patty. We didn’t expect much from the veg samosa (R 6) either. But the fresh watermelon juice (Rs. 20) wasn’t bad.
Nutrition: Besides the stuff we tried, the menu boasts of nutritious veg and non-veg meals with chicken,
vegetables and rice.
Hygiene: The place is neat and tidy.
Wilson College, Girgaum Chowpatty
Ambience: Very canteen-ish. Nothing uniquely special about it.
Food variety: Usual, not bad.
Taste: The Wilson samosa (Rs. 12 for plate of two), served with sambhar was average. The chicken roll (Rs. 18) was disappointing with barely any chicken in it. But the dahi vada (Rs. 16) was perfect, with a hint of hot and tangy chutney topping it.
Nutrition: Save for the measly chicken in the roll and the dahi vada, the food can’t really be termed nutritious. But the menu also features a few healthy clear soups.
Hygiene: Cleanliness in the kitchen should be worked on.