When it comes to paradoxes, tea has to be India’s biggest. On one hand it is the country’s favourite beverage, but on the other, it remains grossly overshadowed by the fancy pants coffee shops, forever doomed to be the forte of roadside vendors and chaddi baniyan clad chotus running berserk with cutting chais at hand. As a nation, our tea consumption outdoes our coffee consumption by many multiples, but the CCD infestation in the country has always spoken otherwise.
Nonetheless, happy times are here for chill time lovers with a penchant for tea and one little gem of such sorts is responsible for bringing the beer loving zoman on board the tea wagon. Yup, that’s the story of my recent Tea Villa soiree.
Vegetarian food and an outlet dedicated to tea…. Usually something that the zoman stays miles clear off. But with his buddy Rushabh extending an invite, saying NO, was out of the question.
The expectation versus reality conundrum has been plaguing the zoman’s life quite a bit these days, and truth be told, the zoman was almost certain that Tea Villa would be a disappointment. But as it turns out, he was absolutely wrong yet again, and thanks to Tea Villa, the zoman walked out with a broad smile and an evening well spent.
Coffee shop meets sassy, is a one clause definition for Tea Villa. A bright and contemporary decor greets you as soon as you step into the place. The two level seating is spacious and looks absolutely snazzy with all the tea trivia postered on the walls.
Typical to cafes I’ve seen in Europe, the open’ish kitchen and cake display are a step level below and that rids the eye of any tea time distractions. Nice touch!
Tea Villa provides valet service, and in Bandra that’s a huge plus. Add to it, the free wi-fi, which I didn’t use though, but is a must with the younger patrons.
New place, teething issues, enough said! A little confused, but more than willing to compensate in courteousness, the service is a bit of both good and not so good.
But you don’t pan a new place for that and I’ll leave it at that.
While Tea Villa’s food didn’t make me mentally orgasm, there are quite a few good things to talk about, on offer here.
Tea has never been my subject of expertise and hence my inability to be elaborate here, but the tiramisu tea was as amazing as the favourite Italian dessert itself. Steeped in a fancy looking tea pot for just about a minute, this particular brew was an instant mood alleviator.
ROOIBOS HIBISCUS TEA
Frankly, I’ve not been exposed to too many tea varieties, in fact tea doesn’t feature on my morning routine like it does for most Indians, but I can safely say, this is the best tea you will ever have.
Exuding a tart sourness that can only come naturally, this particular tea blend was absolutely gorgeous in terms of flavour balance. Adding to which, its ruby red colour makes for a very posh looking cup in one’s hands.
TEA VILLA TEA
The old is gold Indian staple, this is modesty and balance at its very best. That being said nothing more to write home about.
PERI PERI FRIES
Simplicity is the best thing about comfort food and I’ve never understood why some people would want to drape them with the unnecessary frills. Precisely my take on the peri-peri fries at Tea Villa. While the fries were pretty much just fries with a sprinkling of some spice powder, the somewhat elaborate presentation threw me off of them.
But you can’t take away points from a portion of fries, they are gorgeous almost anywhere you eat them.
A nacho platter and a poutine made love to each other and the result was the grande fries, sounds exciting no. Absolutely! But the thing with great excitement is that the propensity for greater disappointment is even higher, something clearly evident here.
Nachos replaced by fries, a half hearted poutine, meaninglessly thrown in salsa, and confused human beings to eat the whole thing. You get the point, don’t you?
I don’t usually go for the veggie variety of burgers but the Tea Villa shroom and I are going to be great friends for a long time to come. With its succulent and juicy patty that literally oozes cheese, this has to be one of the best vegetarian burgers I have had in quite a while.
What was even better about this burger, was its no frills presentation and highlighting of the star of the entire construct – the patty.
This is a Tea Villa must have!
A somewhat DIY Khow Suey and I quite liked the presentation actually. The dish comes in 4 separate bowls, with the noodles, rice, crispy noodles, and the curry all served separately. Depending on how you like it, mix it.
In terms of the flavour, the curry was very well balanced and no overpowering flavours in it. I like the milder curries as opposed to slightly spicier ones that many places serve and for that reason, the Tea Villa khow suey was aces in my book.
BURMESE STREET NOODLES
I simply couldn’t make out what this dish was and I didn’t like it one bit. The tossed veggies and the noodles never really came together coherently, and the overly pungent flavour of vinegar and mustard totally threw me off.
I guess, some street food staples are better off on the streets, that too in a far off country!
CRISPY LOTUS STEM
Call it an ethnic fancy, but lotus stem is like catnip to us kashmiris and by design we are programmed to like it. Putting a more oriental twist on them, these crispy fried lotus stem slices were an absolute delight. The honey and chilli married beautifully well to give us a sweet and spicy preparation that was an absolute delight.
This was the one dish they served that made me wish I was sitting in a pub with a glass of ice cold beer in my hand.
MEXICAN TORTILLA PIZZA
I have a paradoxical explanation for this dish. While you can’t flaw a tortilla base with shredded lettuce, greens, some sauce, and cottage cheese on it, there isn’t much to write home for it either.
This was good, and probably as good as it could get but nothing really special about it at all.
Dayumm! This was so so so delectable. To be honest, the visual didn’t please me despite the black granite it was plated on, and the dusting of powdered sugar around it, but one bite and I was smitten.
This was a devilishly awesome waffle and I loved it to the core.
An apple pie filling sandwiched between freshly waffled eggless waffles and an obscene amount of whipped cream. Does life get any better? I don’t think so.
Quite obviously, a berry overload sandwiched between fresh waffles, still exuding that waffl’y aroma.
While I liked it, I didn’t love it.
The waffle and everything inside it was absolutely fine, just that I’m not a fan of berry fruits.
NUTELLA & CHOCOLATE WAFFLE
I expected this to be the best waffle of the lot and while it was quite up there on the benchmarks, the apple pie waffle couldn’t be toppled from the top slot by this overload of nutella and dark chocolate syrup.
Waffles and chocolate are a heavenly combination and I haven’t seen anyone make a mess out of them so far. Thankfully not in this case either.
BELGIAN CHOCOLATE SQUARE
The pastry section of Tea Villa’s menu is specially curated by a masterchef chef and this is particular creation is a visual, olfactory, and gastronomic delight.
A perfectly airy mousse with a precise amount of centre filling (raspberry coulis), and a standout golden paintbrushed almond, give you a cracker of a dessert that tastes amazing and looks super sexy for those twitter and instagram updates of yours.
Hrmphh! Rarely do I come across a red velvet that I don’t like and I’m adding the Tea Villa red velvet to that rare list of red velvet flops.
The red velvet was a lab invention and the original recipe uses food colour. Trying to go au natural with beet juice, gave the Tea Villa red velvet a somewhat clumpy and pudgy texture and a slightly weird heaviness.
I wouldn’t recommend this.
Tea / Coffee shops are usually priced in the same broad bracket and Tea Villa is no different. You’d end up paying roughly the same you’d pay at any Costa / Starbucks / CBTL / BRU outlets and in all fairness to them, that’s perfectly OK.
A little more education on tea might be needed before tea joints become really popular in the country. While we’d still not convince ourselves to abandon the roadside tapirs for the daily fix of tea, varieties like rooibos, tiramisu, etc will keep getting patrons to Tea Villa’s door.
A chink or two here and there, but other than that I’m on Tea Villa’s TeaM. Looks like Acche Din for tea are finally here!
AMBIANCE – 4.5 / 5
SERVICE – 4 / 5
FOOD – 4.5 / 5
PRICE – 4.5 / 5