At a time when it has become a cardinal sin to leave your house without a face mask or hand sanitiser, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating come as a boon. If there's one thing you can tell from looking at social media feeds full of people running away to Goa or the Maldives, it's that we're all looking for some semblance of normalcy; and a place to unwind. That's exactly what Bandra's newest hangout, Silly, brings to the table - a fuss-free, easygoing space with an alfresco dining area, a bar menu with botanical concoctions, comfort food, a relaxed co-working setting and a prime location in Khar West, where Hoppipola used to be.
Co-founded by Pawan Shahri, Dhawal Udeshi, Karan Nohria and Nikita Harsinghani, Silly is a brunch hotspot, weekend hub and co-working space, all rolled into one. ''People want to limit travel time and go to places that are easy to reach. We're still in the process of phasing out of the lockdown. We've realised that the post-pandemic world is going to be different. Keeping that in mind, we started meeting with different investors and partners and have tried to figure out the best financial route to take.''Shahri says, explaining how he managed to open a new diner, at a time when the F&B industry has seen more closures than ever before. ''We all have some amount of Silly-ness inside us but that side only comes out in front of our closest friends or so. When we designed this place, we just wanted to create a space where people could be their most authentic selves'', he adds, describing the core philosophy that lies at the heart of this business venture.
Nikita Harsinghani, Pawan Shahri, Karan Nohria and Dhaval Udeshi
Walking in through the white door, it takes a minute to soak in the interiors. Two oversized wicker chairs sit by the entrance and under the canopy of a 65-year-old mango tree. Adjacent to this is a stone wall covered in vintage trinkets, mirrors and picture frames that come together to look like an artsy Pinterest pinboard while the bar is located in the indoor seating area, with a segment flowing out into the alfresco to double up as a coffee station.
''We wanted it to be like a community hub,'' says Shahri. Different design elements are dispersed throughout the property and come together like a mosaic. From the macrame lanterns that hang from the trees above to the sunken pebbled flooring and the comfortable sofas that make up the quiet co-working space, the restaurant has corners that are designed to suit the needs of anyone that walks in.
The alfresco dining area at Silly
Elaborating on the menu, Shahri says, it's "Soulful food, globally inspired and with a Silly twist. We've tried to keep the menu full of great comfort food that people can snack on all day. We've made sure that the dishes are all filled and made in a way that satiates every craving.'' More than the plating, the focus is on the ingredients that make up the dishes, which are locally sourced or grown in-house. In fact, even the gin menu relies on six Indian homegrown brands, that are then stirred into summer-y, herby concoctions spruced up with mangoes from their in-house tree and herbs from the restaurant garden, which comes alive with small saplings of everything from rosemary and thyme to mint.
The food menu has been curated in a way that caters to the needs of all kinds of customers. It's a place where you can ask for jaggery powder in place of regular sugar and oat milk if you've decided to stay off dairy. There are also vegan food options, like the chilled seasonal gazpacho soup that stood out for us. Although the dish could've been better balanced out with a souring agent to cut through the sweetness, it made for a refreshing offering, brimming with the pulpy goodness of fresh mangoes. The pulled chicken salad with edamame and hemp hearts came sprinkled with edible flowers, and we could jolly well return to sample it again, perhaps on a day, we choose to work out of Silly.
The Sriracha chicken dimsums
Additionally, what made the place feel like a daily hangout spot, was the abundance of snacks, such as mac and cheese, chicken wings, burgers and dim sums. What could've had more flavour was the four cheese margherita pizza, but we didn't dwell on this for too long as we found ourselves reaching for the next dish on our table - the crispy Philly truffle cheese wontons, which we binged on, thanks to the crunchy exterior ensconcing a gooey, creamy filling. We also enjoyed the curry chicken sliders with mango chutney, which had soft meat and pillowy, small burger buns, baked in-house.
What makes Silly a promising new diner is its cuisine-agnostic menu, which has been designed to cater to the evolved eater as much as say, someone who's simply looking to indulge. There's also the fact that it comes as a happy respite in the form of a more chilled out diner, for those of us who could really use a break from Social and Raasta located bang opposite the space. This also means that the restaurant is going to have to deal with intense competition in the first few months. As for whether they'll keep up, that's something only time can tell.
Equipped with a Master’s degree in Journalism, Tarini is forever questioning everything around her. Headstrong and passionate about the art of storytelling, she is up to date with all things travel, food, beauty, and innovation. When she isn’t out reviewing the newest restaurant, you can find her researching the latest skincare trend or curled up with a book and a cuppa in the farthest corner of the room.