The bustling junction of Pali Naka is packed with traditional shops that are popular with locals. Pali Junction crowds in Jude Cold Storage, Toto’s Garage Pub, 5 Spice and the Punjab Sweet House. Up the road are vegetable and fruit vendors, while the infamous 50-year-old Janata pub, Shalimar Milk and Sweet Centre, and a chaat and chevda (Bombay Mix) stall stand nearby. New entry In the midst of all this, a new deli café called Pali Village Café has arrived. The building, once a defunct furniture store, is now a 120-seater cafe that serves 94 varieties of wines, and dishes like pasta, pizza and steak.
Co-owner Mishali Sanghani (25) has started it with her fiancé Suren Joshi (28). “Landlords didn’t want to rent their places to a restaurant. Other spots didn’t have the right vibe,” she says. And then they found this. Enter through the discreet green door and you will feel like you have been transported to Tuscany or a private members’ club in London. The café has exposed grey concrete that deliberately looks old and stained. “I wanted the place to have a story, like it was an old bungalow that I had inherited. Even though it was newly renovated, I wanted to make it look old, so I chipped all the walls,” Sanghani says. Postcards and prints of old Bombay, Paris and London, collected by Sanghani, line the walls. The furniture is custom-made teak wood and the floors are laid with heritage tiles. The noise of Pali Naka is drowned out by the music of a Spanish guitar.
It is the first high-end café in Pali Village – and serves only wine. There are already waiting lists and Sanghani has to turn people away every night. A-list Bollywood stars have already been spotted there. Sanghani adds she had no problems getting a licence. “A lot of entrepreneurs are scared of opening a place without a hard liquor license. We have just a wine licence, and look at the results,” she says. Explaining why it’s so popular, she says, “The ambience stimulates conversation. People come for breakfast and are back for dinner. Celebs probably like it because you can have a private conversation here,” she says. Zaid Farid, who runs the mobile shop nearby, grumbles: “This is area is congested and a restaurant will only increase traffic.”
But Lokesh Jain, owner of Janata, is unphased. “I concentrate mostly on middle and lower-class people. They must be aiming at richer people. I am planning on visiting it with my family,” he says. “A lot of people told us not to open here because there is no parking. But I wasn’t bothered, as I thought that if it was unique and had good food, people would walk here,” Sanghani signs off.