If you are intrigued by series of asterix on the tree while you walk towards CST station from Hutatma Chowk in the evening, just follow the lead and go to the first floor of Kitab Mahal and enter the café on the right of the corridor. It leads you to the new café in town that’s full of surprises. Only hitch is the narrow entry access post the first gate. But once you enter, you are overwhelmed with the warm vibes of the place and the staff.
Dream of Chef Niyati and Sagar Neve, and brought to life by Chef Niyati and Chef Dhriti, KMC* is one of the cutest places I have recently visited. “The idea was to create a place where everyone feels belonged,” says Niyati. “A community place, co-working place…” adds Dhriti. The menu says it all giving varied meanings to the C* in the name while KM stands for Kitab Mahal, the name of the building.
Shrimp Beignets & Floss | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Coffee Glazed Pork Ribs | Pic: Shruti Pandit
The passion of the chef duo is obvious in the smallest thing of the café – the décor, the menu, the books, the merchandise… “We don’t claim to be a healthy food place,” says Niyati. “We are a comfort place offering comfort food with a difference.” And that they do. They offer comforting vibes and food that leaves you fuzzy inside.
The window seats are perfect if you want to gaze while you sip one of the coffees that they offer. They have coffees from three estates, and you choose the one you want depending upon the way you want your coffee to be – French press, pour over, or just a long black or cappuccino. The staff will help you decide the estate and the way it’s made. The Brioche that comes slathered with butter and dusted liberally with Podi can be a perfect companion for the coffee. If you are a tea person, you are spoilt for choice as well. Not only do they have a variety of teas and infusions, they also encourage you to create your own infusions.
Brioche with Podi | Pic: Shruti Pandit
If you love your beer on tap, there are four to pick up from. Black Velvet is a good stout, which is full bodied yet doesn’t leave an after taste on the palate. Pair it with Coffee Glazed Pork Ribs or Coffee Glazed Roots if you are a vegetarian. The ribs are perfectly cooked with crisp skin and soft, delectable meat falling off the bone.
The Coffee Glazed Roots is a medley of root veggies on a bed of labaneh, chilly oil and smoked walnut oil. The roots are tossed lightly and brushed with pistachio powder to finish. The surprise element is the grapes that are tossed with the roots. “The grapes were a last-minute thought to give the dish a sweet and sour bite,” informs Chef Dhriti. And she is right. The dish is a burst of flavours in the mouth.
Chicken in Garlic Emulsion with Turmeric Bao | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Corn Bread with Methi Relish | Pic: Shruti Pandit
The vegetarians should also try Masoor Tagliatelle. Homemade pasta tossed with whole masoor based sauce. The textures complement each other. Also, must is the Corn Bread with Methi Relish. The hot, just baked corn bread arrives on the skillet and floors you with the aroma. The relish or dip served with it is a tomato, onion and methi leaves cooked down concoction that’s finished with coriander seeds for a crunch.
For the non-veg enthusiasts Poached Chicken in Garlic Emulsion with Turmeric Bao is compulsory. A wholesome dish that fills you up. “Just use your hands to rip the bao and dip it in the gravy,” advises Chef Niyati. “Use of hands to eat is the best way to enjoy any food… it tells the brain that you are eating…”
Masoor Tagliatelle | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Zesty Amber beer with Coffee glazed roots | Pic: Shruti Pandit
KMC* has signature Winoctails that can titillate your taste buds and leave you wanting more. The ones you must surely try are: The Last Word, Poached Pear, Not So Tanny. The Last Word is white wine based and has distilled homemade kafir and pandan liquor. Fresh in your mouth. Not So Tanny is a sparkling wine mixed with Earl Gray tea and guava juice. Interesting flavours that leave you asking for more.
Seed Crisps with Avocado and Chawli is a good starter to accompany your drink. The crisp lavash is served with a humus that’s made from chawli not chickpeas and is finished with walnut oil instead of olive oil. The taste is interesting on palate.
Quiche x Cheesecake | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Foamed Yogurt with Sage and Lemon | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Seafood fans should surely try Shrimp Beignets & Floss. One of the most innovative dishes in a long time. Shrimp paste stuffed pastry is topped with ‘floss’ that’s made of red chillies, onion, garlic, and dry shrimps. The texture mix delectable and taste delicious.
Poached Pear is almost a dessert in itself, so have it to end your meal and not to start it. It’s a just right amalgamation of red wine, pears poached in red wine and egg nogg. It is served in a soup bowl making it a perfect way to end your meal.
The Last Word | Pic: Shruti Pandit
This doesn’t mean that there are no desserts here. You can search for your comfort in the freshly baked Chocolate Cookie served with Basil Ice Cream or in the Foamed Yogurt with Sage and Lemon. Chocolate lovers should go in for Dense Chocolate Cake with Orange and the coffee lovers must try Coffee Tres Leches with Mascarpone.
Trust me, this is the place you can go alone to binge, or just curl up with a book in one of the arm chairs, or with the entire team for an after work party or for brainstorm session, or just sit holding hands at a window with your significant other. Leave the rest to the team KMC*.