WHAT: Villa Vandre
WHERE: Shop no 3, May Flower, New Kantwadi Road, Pali Hill, Bandra (West)
WHEN: 8.30 am to 11.30 pm
COST: Rs 1,200 for two people. Alcohol not served
With just 16 seats, the not quite villa-esque Villa Vandre is already always busy. Bandra’s latest little restaurant is a new venture from the guys who started Ice Apple Food Services (named after the tadgola fruit) in 2011. The four-year-old catering company by Chef Aloysius Dsilva, his wife Firuza Mistry Dsilva, and Sonia Mistry, has been serving up Mexican, European and pan-Asian food for birthdays and housewarmings. At Villa Vandre too, the food spans continents and cuisines.
Unadventurous diners can stick with the commonplace pastas (aglio olio e peperoncino, pomodorini, pesto) or more familiar deli-staple sandwiches (spicy veg burger, roast chicken, pulled pork).
We gave the hummus salad sandwich a shot. The chickpea dip was bright and creamy, the veggies fresh. But what really sets Villa Vandre apart, the section we’re most keen on, is titled Villa Vandre Classics. The heading is odd for a week-old place — still, we can see the dishes becoming favourites.
These are flavours that Chef Aloysius has picked up from his years of travel and work, on cruise liners, and at city restaurants such as Aurus, and Mangi Ferra.
The press note informs us that, for example, his recipe for prawn curry is from the Kolis of Bandra, the one for dhansak from his in-laws, and the jerk chicken one from a certain Ms Brown in Jamaica. We wish the menu gave us more stories behind the plates. We’d like to know about the delicious Sunday chicken curry, with tikka-like chunks of poultry in an energetically spiced, red gravy. Or the blackened fish — its mustard cream sauce has got a kasundi kick to it. You want a bit with each bite.
There is a kasundi risotto on the menu, but oddly enough, the rice needs punch. A fried egg over the homemade East Indian sausage chilly fry, in turn on creamy mash, alongside pao, makes for a stellar comfort dish. Have some ginger ale, it’s got a refreshing back-of-throat burn. Panna cotta is a Bandra restaurant favourite. Villa Vandre’s cherry compote-topped version tastes more like baked yogurt. Do check out the pickle jars, ladles, vases on the walls but don’t linger, there are folks waiting.
(HT pays for all meals, and reviews anonymously)