They say, you can't be everything to everyone. You can't be everyone's cup of tea. You can't please everybody. Except, that if you are the Kala Ghoda Café, you absolutely can. South Bombay’s favourite coffee spot is now offering more than hot cappuccinos, cool air conditioning and their famous gluten-free almond cake. Making no announcements at all, the Kala Ghoda Café Wine Bar opened its art deco doors a few days ago. It is exactly what every neighbourhood didn’t know it needed – a bijoux bar with a delightful wine list and oodles of old world charm.
Wine drinking in India is either an expensive or expletive-filled experience. I promise that an evening at the Kala Ghoda Café Wine Bar will be neither. It’s like walking into the charming living room of a welcoming old friend and being served a delicious meal paired with beautiful wines. Determinedly under-designed, it's a simple wood-panelled room with worn velvet drapes, rosy couches, Irani cafe chairs and a familiar gymkhana-bar-room-feeling.
If you are a wine drinker exasperated with the same old wines on every menu, allow the Kala Ghoda CaféWine Bar to gently change your mind. Serving an interesting list of 16 Indian and international wines (and a stray sake), all available by the glass, carafe and bottle, there truly is something here for everyone.
Few new restaurants launch during the monsoon. But the rainy season is exactly the right time to have opened this cosy, new space. It was on one such rainy afternoon that India’s first Master of Wine, Sonal Holland, paired some wines with their bar bites for us. Given the Indian wine drinker’s predilection for non-Indian wines I was surprised to see Sonal’s first pick for each dish to be an Indian wine. And they were absolutely perfect pairings…
Chicken Yakitori – with pickled raddish
Sonal spotted a brand new white wine on the menu, that was only very recently launched in India. “The All Rounder by York Vineyards is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc and the aromatics of the wine really offset the salty-sweet yakitori flavours.” She also paired a very pleasant Kamptal Grüner Veltliner with the Asian-inspired dish.
Blue Monster Pizza – blue cheese and walnuts, also available gluten-free.
Sonal first paired it with full bodied robust red – the Arros by York Vineyards in Nashik. “This one is lovely! With Christmas cake aromas, the wine is big and chewy and works perfectly with the blue cheese.” The wine list also has a fruity Sedàra Donnafugata which would work nicely with the pizza.
Lychee Pudding – a tri-layered dessert with pistachio cream, lychees and toasted jowar flakes.
“You must have a wine that is slightly sweet to compliment the flavours of the dessert,” said Sonal. She picked the brand new NOI Sparkling by Fratelli Vineyards that is “lightly bubbly and smells of Danish pastry.”
Over the last decade Kala Ghoda Cafe quietly became an indelible part of the lives of an entire generation, without even appearing to try. The new bar has the same timelessness to it. It is very likely to lure a new circle of fashionistas, creatives and foodies into this heritage precinct. Selfishly, I’m hoping it doesn’t happen just yet; so that the Kala Ghoda Cafe and its Wine Bar can stay our neighbourhood’s snuggly little secret a little while longer.
Kala Ghoda Cafe Wine Bar is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12 noon to midnight. Find them at 10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 400001. kgcafe.in.