Once in a blue moon, you come across a neighbourhood joint so lovely that for a moment you actually consider moving, if only to indulge the dream of making it your local. An evening at Café Noir, a casual French cuisine restaurant tucked amidst the glitzy skyscrapers of Lower Parel, is this exactly this kind of fantasy fuel.
This full-of-charm neighbourhood café is the perfect spot to grab a seat, order a hearty espresso and just linger. The vibe is energetic and conversational but not so roaring that you can't read, write, or sit and people-watch.
Breakfast is a good time to test Café Noir. Start with the butter croissants which flak at the gentlest prodding. Coffees tend to be as they be – dark and strong. The egg white frittata cooked with feta, fresh herbs, tomatoes and spinach is both fortifying and comforting. The Egg Florentine on creamed spinach and Mornay sauce is as delicious as it is photogenic.
At Café Noir, beauty is both on the plate and in the room. The small but beautiful dining room is dressed up with old world light fixtures, imposing mirrors and black and white photographs depicting the Parisian way of life. Charming.
For those who don’t know - Café Noir is a Bangalore-based brand with four outlets in the garden city. The Mumbai outpost retains most of the Bangalore menu, with additions of burgers and a wider range of wood fired pizzas.
Meals at Café Noir include classic French selection (read crepes, ratatouille, quiches and mixed cheese and cured meat platters) as well as crowd pleasers such as pastas, burgers and grilled meats.
I recommend starting with the chili cheese baguette and then working your way into the quiche like a true Parisian. The crusty baguette is piled with cheddar, mozzarella and just a teeny bit of chili for a pleasant jolt. It’s hard not to be seduced by the savoury crepes that are served with fresh salad. The best is the Truffle scented Mushroom crepe which is a buttery, umami treat.
The biggest draw here is the quiche. Particularly the classic Quiche Lorraine stuffed with bacon, ham, cream cheese and onions. Instead of slices, Café Noir serves their quiches as individual pies baked fresh throughout the day. It’s rare that a quiche melts in your mouth quite like this one does. Portions are generous; but don’t make the mistake of sharing, like me. The Basque cheesecake makes for an incredible finale.
My only grouse with Café Noir is the limited French selection. Without the French onion soup, coq au vin (French dish of chicken braised with wine, popularized by Julia Child), Bœuf bourguignon (a stew made from beef braised in red wine and seasoned vegetables) and the impossibly light, airy soufflé, the experience feels unfinished.
Regardless, Café Noir has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes for a picturesque backdrop while you sip your espresso and dig into the delectable quiche.
Price for two: Rs 2500Address: World Crest, Unit no.1A & 1B, Lodha, Upper Worli, Lower Parel, Mumbai. Tel: 9730427206