Someone rightly said change is good. And this is about the changing dining scene of a Mumbai neighbourhood known for serving strictly vegetarian food. According to reports, the once thriving meat and fish-eating neighbourhood in the early 90s, the Girgaum of today has transformed into a pure vegetarian zone.
However, earlier this month, Girgaum got a new all day restaurant. Standing tall opposite the iconic Opera House, is Canto with its arched windows, and a mission to feed hungry south Mumbaikars who missed their meat and seafood.
Intrigued, we landed up at this shiny, majestic cafe to chat with the owners last week post work. We got talking to Pooja Kanodia, co-owner of the space, who tells us why there was a need to open a contemporary restaurant serving non-vegetarian food in the locality. “Right from Altamount Road to Worli, it is hard to find a modern dining space where people can hang out. We also realised that there were those who wanted to eat chicken and seafood, considering there were no restaurants serving them in the neighbourhood in a fine dining setting,” says Pooja, who interestingly is a vegetarian herself. She seems quite upbeat about running a business that may not go down too well with the predominantly Marwari and Gujarati population.
Canto is situated opposite Opera House.
Canto's menu has a mix of Asian, Italian and a handful of Indian favourites. “The menu was designed keeping both the tastes in mind. It is still predominantly veg, however if you wish to eat a pasta with chicken, we will make it for you,” smiles Pooja.
We started our meal with Thai Curry Bao, which comes with over-salted chunks of chicken, although favourful but not the best we had eaten so far. The Watermelon & Feta Salad was light and refreshing. The Chermoula Prawns cooked in the in-house tandoor were chewy. For mains, we chose the Sambhar Risotto - cheesy with a hint of sambhar, we thought it was a smart food experiment. This was followed by Banana Wrapped Fish - a fleshy and bland rawas steamed with a green masala and served with rice and salad. Not the best dish to order if you are a fish lover honestly. We ended our meal with a Creme Brulee, which came with a perfectly-crunchy top layer and rich custard underneath.
Canto could be your go-to watering hole if you live or work close by. The place is also work-friendly, says Pooja, who points out the laptop charging points below the seats. Come Thursdays, folks can enjoy karaoke and let their hair down in a neighbourhood that seems to be slowly embracing change.