"Is that Mumbai or New York?" a colleague joked on the office Whatsapp group as they caught a glimpse of our filter-perfect Instagram story, while we cruised through the newly opened bakery, roastery and retail shop in Byculla that Mumbai can't stop raving about. Subko Coffee Roasters' second outpost, The Craftery is a tastefully done up space that plays several roles all at once. It's where you can get a croissant by yourself, or coffee with the date you're not sure enough to go for dinner with and where you simply land up with your female co-workers to discuss creative ideas over quiche and coffee, like we did.
Spread across 2,200 sq ft, The Craftery looks impressive at first glance, with tall ceilings and a clean aesthetic. The old-worldly, industrial space is revived with a modern touch that includes intimate decor, done up in hues of brown and biscotti, interspersed with splashes of blue. High tables and bar stools, inviting enough to draw you in and comfortable only for a short while (versus a couch or something more plush) adequately convey the message that while you're welcome, don't overstay it; like a cafe in the West would. In other words, it's not a place for you to mooch off free Wi-Fi, but rather to truly appreciate coffee.
What we tried
Bacon-onion grilled cheese
The roastery inside Craftery churns out three specialty roasts for both hot and cold brews, sourcing their beans from coffee plantations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Meghalaya. These include medium, medium-light and medium-dark. Having said that, on that sunny afternoon, we felt like something fresh, so we called for the peppermint-iced mocha and the iced latte, with a bacon-onion grilled cheese, chicken haleem quiche, almond croissant and cold brew chocolate tart, to boot.
Chicken haleem quiche
One sip of the peppermint-iced mocha, and we're fans. We love the camaraderie between the cooling peppermint and the intense chocolate mocha. The iced latte was the right consistency and went perfectly with our chicken haleem quiche. Which is creamy chicken, dotted with ghee-fried onions, ensconced within a flaky, phyllo parcel. It's so good, we're almost sorry for having any doubts about ordering it at all. The almond croissant is perfectly flaky, with a sweet and nutty frangipane swirled through layers of pastry. It's a legit pick-me-up and a bonafide quick sweet fix.
What didn't work
Cold brew chocolate tart
And while the desi-meets-videshi quiche and croissants are things we're surely coming back for, the bacon-onion grilled cheese sandwich not so much. It fails to impress, and one reason for that could be that its overall flavour profile was tilting too heavily on the astringent side, with nothing particularly in there to cut through the dual saltiness of the crispy bacon and the melted cheese. The chocolate tart too is slightly insipid, with a tart shell that's too crumbly for our liking and a filling that could have done lot more.
Having said that, we'll have to agree that Craftery is ostensibly the most ambitious space in the city right now. It is a fresh, contemporary take on a basic commodity like coffee. One little thing is the pricing; and while it may not tick the 'value for money' box, it's somewhat justified if you look at what is being offered. In terms of quality, it's unquestionable and if that's what you're looking for, you'll love this new spot.
India Food Network paid for this meal and reviewed The Craftery by Subko anonymously
Tarvene is a chocolate and chai fiend who is constantly on the hunt for cute cafes. You can catch her baking some Biscoff cheesecakes or binge-watching Netflix shows. She likes filling up her free time painting, listening to music or going on long drives.