When the iconic seaside coffee shop (Barista) at Yari Road shut down about two months ago, a bevy of struggling actors and film industry folk were left high and dry without their daily meeting spot. Now the same place has been reopened as a posh new open-air bistro, Chai Coffi, owned by Actor Ayesha Takia and restaurateur husband.
So you walk into this dimly-lit purple haven, which looks just like their other venture Basilico in terms of the décor, right down to the tables and cutlery. If you were not to notice the bold Chai Coffi logo, you’d easily believe you’re back in the posh Bandra venue. There’s a live pizza corner and a large al fresco area with white walls. The only thing connecting Chai Coffi to its predecessor are the same orange table umbrellas, which have been integrated into the new place.
Now for the grub. On a nearly vacant evening, we shuffled through the sparse menu for quick small bites. We ordered a Keema Pav (R 190), a roadside vegetarian sandwich (R 125), a chicken sausage roll (R 110), masala chai (R 50), a strawberry-peach cooler (R 135) and a tiny pot rabdi (R 100).
True to its moniker, Chai Coffi has a two-page laminated menu, like the kinds you will get at most street-side stalls. Choices are few and the portions equally small. The flavours taste authentic on the upside and you do feel you’re eating straight from a stall. But on the flipside, the complete lack of creative input courtesy the Chai Coffi chef makes you wonder if paying over R 100 for a roadside sandwich as opposed to its R 20 street counterpart is truly worth it. Bearing in mind that the food is despicably simple, the presentation is a bit confusing.
For example, all savoury dishes are served with a dressing of loosely sprinkled cabbage and two strips of bell peppers (red and yellow). The chai, on the other hand, truly tasted uplifting in a small earthen glass. Throw in some kitchen-made khari biskoot (R 30), and it feels like you’re back in the no-fuss meeting mode. But is it enough to warrant a return? For the chai, yes. For the samosas (R 135), stick to the street nook fix.
What we like
The chai and biskoot
What we don’t
The exorbitant prices