Mumbai's first ice factory, is once again open to the public under the disguise of IF.BE

Get rooted in living a healthy life by picking up a fresh salad and a chilled glass of smoothie at this new café in South Bombay

Mumbais first ice factory, is once again open to the public under the disguise of IF.BE

Earlier this month I was in Goa, where I visited the Banyan Tree Restaurant at Taj Holiday Village and was amazed by the grandiose tree which guarded the restaurant and at the same time adorned it. A similar kind of excitement is probably what tickled architect Kamal Malik while he was walking past Calicut Street, in Mumbai's historic Ballard Estate when he saw a banyan tree amidst an abandoned ice factory, the oldest in Mumbai, which shut down in 2018.

As I walked through the corridors to enjoy a hearty meal, the bare brick walls caught my attention. This gave a rustic touch to the place, making the experience seem quite historic. The structure still holds the integrity of what it used to be, while also giving a modern and elegant vibe. The glass doors around the space dissect it into multidisciplinary segments which opens up endless possibilities. The space is quite versatile; here you can reminisce about art, host a talk show, exhibit your work or, my favourite, simply enjoy a cup of coffee as you get lost in thought while watching the big, old banyan tree.

This all-day café brings only the freshest ingredients to your plate. From salads, smoothies, and sandwiches, to beverages and breakfast dishes, assortment seems to be the only rule here. The team at Banyan Tree Café is focused on providing a sustainable experience to all those who walk in and honors local produce and seasonal ingredients to stay on top of the game.

The salad menu sounds fresh and is a trip around the world with their quirky names 'Good Vibes', 'Back to Balsamic', 'When in Italy', 'Trip to Chinatown', 'Beach Please' and so on! We tried the 'Good Vibes' which did radiate some flashing energy with its beautiful shades of green, bright sunny orange and garnished with ruby-like red cranberries. If you have a tolerance for spice, go for their 'Trip to Chinatown': it has julienned carrots, which are noodle-like, cabbage and is topped with some pieces of exquisitely flavoured chicken.

With breakfast being an essential part of everyone's diet, their 'All the Brekkie' menu will make sure you devour The Breakfast Club, a traditional English fried egg with country toast, baked beans and chicken sausage that is simply to die for, without caring if it is breakfast time yet, or way past it. I am a big fan of Parsi cuisine and their chicken farcha sandwich felt like customization for someone who loves fried chicken, within brown slices of soft bread and some wholesome, crunchy veggies.

Their main courses do have hints of classic Bombay, evident in the names like 'Bombay Bhaji', 'Mutton Kheema', and 'Masala Prawns'. 'The Griller' comes with a serving of grilled chicken with herb jus, garlic mash and sautéed veggies. And it is what we recommend if you want to get in your proteins, with every morsel bursting with seasoning and flavour. And if you too like a little something chilled to go with your food, they have a drinks menu that offers a range of smoothies and freshly squeezed juices which definitely go well with any dish you order.

And do we ever forget dessert? I am a massive waffle-lover and so that is what we relished as a dessert, with Nutella. But it's not the only heavenly dessert they serve. Their menu lines a plethora of excellent gooey and chocolatey choices for you to pick from.

The next time you want to feel lively and rooted you know where to head to declutter and enjoy a fresh meal right from their terrace garden. Choose this quaint space to sit and spend some time, just doodle the randomness of your life on a paper. You never know, it could be displayed in the art gallery that lies just behind a glass door. As they say, here the possibilities are endless and robust, just like the banyan tree in the courtyard which has withstood the passing of time and witnessed it all.

Hope you've noted what to order, I'll see you around then!

Aayushi Vichare

Aayushi Vichare

Aayushi is that friend who won’t let you take a bite without capturing it. For her, the easiest but still thoughtful way of making someone feel special is by cooking or getting them their favourite food. Currently, she’s on an expedition to integrate all her favourites: food, social media and marketing, so that you don't miss the hottest spot in town and you know where to eat those crispy and juicy chicken wings.

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