Kasha Ki Aasha [White Town, Pondicherry]

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“I think I am in the wrong place!”

“Nope, definitely, this is someone’s home. We are in the wrong place!”

This is how the conversation will go when you first enter Kasha Ki Asha – that you have entered someone’s really well-kempt home and there is no way that a café exists here. Pass by those rooms with handicrafts and khadi kurtas and bags and you reach the centre of the home which again reinforces your belief that this is someone’s home and you are trespassing!

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With a small central verandah with lots of flowers, a metallic statue of the dancing God and a few females going about their business, it has got to be a home, no?

Well, it is, but it is a home converted to an art gallery and also houses a café upstairs.

Breathing a sigh of relief that we have to be hungry no longer, we climbed up the narrow staircase to come face to face with the rooftop café and then… and then we smiled!

 

Kasha Ki Aasha is a dream we all had but never got. A terrace with cane furniture to laze on, lots of plants to keep it cool…. a space where we could relax and spend all our days and evenings and maybe even nights! Away from the chaos and cacophony, one can chill and be at peace at this café for as long as they want. And delicious homecooked food doesn’t hurt either!

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We spent hours here, hogging and just sitting, doing nothing, at some points not even talking…just being quiet! That is the type of place Kasha Ki Aasha is. And if you love such places, you will love this one!

The women who run the café come upstairs from time to time to ask for any order or you can go to the stairs and holler for someone but apart from that, they let you be. No one keeps poking asking if you want anything more, something we Mumbaikars, or for that matter, metro-dwellers are not used to!

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Coming to the food, they have a small menu and also serve some specials apart from the menu. The quantity is decent and one cannot help feel that the prices are a little high. That kept aside, the food is delicious! Their European and Thai thalis are hot selling and pretty famous! They also serve beer and wine. We stuck to mostly Indian options or Indian with a twist. Here’s what we tried and loved:

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Traditional Indian Breakfast – Soft steamed idlis with a bowl of sambhar and a groundnut and coconut based chutney.  The sambhar is non-spicy but had the perfect maa-ke-hath ka taste! The quantity of sambhar is a little less and you may have to ask for another bowl. The chutney is delicious too, with no hint of spiciness.

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Chappati & Dal Fry – Two large and soft chappatis with slightly crispy centres and a small bowl of dal. Dal again was non-spicy but yummy with lots of onions and ginger. This preparation is again served with the chutney.

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Chappati & Dal Fry

Pizza Dosai – Before we tell you what it is, we will tell you that it is delicious!! Two plain uttapams with lots of veggies on top – chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and more. This is then finished with lots of cheese! It tastes very slightly sweet owing to the tomato based sauce used to mix the veggies and the batter but the combination overall is amazing and something different!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney

Black Bean Burger – The black bean burger has two black bean based cutlets with a slightly charred and smokey flavour, topped with tomatoes, capsicum and onions. It is served with a cold macaroni salad that is spiced with black pepper and is delicious. Each of these can be had separately and the combination is lip-smacking.

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The café is open only until 7 p.m. which is really sad considering the ambience is perfect for spending your evenings!!

All in all, Kasha Ki Aasha is an amazing place with good food and should find its way to your list of places to visit in Pondicherry!

Kasha Ki Aasha [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Kasha Ki Aasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Boardwalk by Flamboyante [Alibaug/Mandwa]

There is no blue like the Greek blue… this Greek blue and peaceful white drew us to Boardwalk.

Perched on the waterfront near Mandwa jetty, this place screams romance and solitude at the same time. The whites and the blues, the salt sprays and the gush of the wind, the pebbled floor and the sunshade are what one should visit Boardwalk for!

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There is an indoor section as well, but frankly, why would you want to choose it! Getting here is fairly simple. Just hop on to one of the many ferries from Gateway and cover a short distance on foot after you alight at Mandwa jetty. The effort is totally worth it.

We went here for the Sundowner and were mesmerised by the tranquil blues and the perfect sunset! What more does one need!

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The food here is good too, but we did not really try much.

Fiama: Thin crust pizza with lots of chilli flakes, onions and cheese. It was well made and scrumptious.

Amritsari Chole with Kulcha: Chole ki sabzi was really yummy and very mildly spicy. Kulcha was basically aloo paratha, got and butter laden. The tamarind chutney that is served with the dish is definitely worth trying as well. Tangy and sweet, totally loved it. The quantity is just decent, with one Kulcha served. You can call for different types of Indian bread (parathas) as an addition.

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Fiama
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Amritsari Chole and Kulcha
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Strawberry Margarita and Shirley Temple

From the mocktails we enjoyed Fresh Fruit Margarita – Strawberry wich was perfect, just the right amount of sweet and the salt adding a punch!

Shirley Temple is a ginger, mint and orange based fizzy mocktail. Refreshing. Ginger stole the show with the lime wedges adding to the citrusy flavour. This one was my favourite.

We also had Virgin Caprioska and Fresh Lime Soda.

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Virgin Caprioska

The best time to visit the place is around late afternoon, right about when the sun is not too bright and it is not already evening. You get to watch the sunset! 😍

However, the time for which one can occupy a table here is limited. The management does ask you to get up once you have really surpassed your booking time. The place is generally fully booked, with large and small groups and couples alike. They also have sheesha which is another crowd puller. There is generally one or the other group celebrating an occasion by the evening, so the crowd is quirky and fun. A nuisance if you care, so rather let it drown in the sea as you enjoy your time here.

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Overall Experience: Amazing. Being water people, the setting was perfect. Loved every bit of our time here.

The food is good, but on the pricier side. Our bill came to ₹2000 (two people).

Food 🙂

Ambience 🙂

Service 😐

Now you ask why 😐 for service? Read on, every coin has two sides. Only wish it were not true for this place!

Everything that is wrong about Boardwalk: The management is notoriously arrogant. It is a pain trying to get a table here. We had to call them continuously for 10-12 days and leave multiple texts to finally get through to them.

Another issue is the total lack of any consideration or hospitality on the part of the management. After making a booking almost a month in advance, they do not ensure that we get a flawless experience. Our table was near the edge, right next to the beach, and people kept flogging all three tables by this side for pictures. They would climb up the wall and pose endlessly, totally ruining our experience, while the management stood there doing nothing, saying nothing. Only when another couple raised their voice against this did the management ask people to vacate the area. The manager got into a tiff with around 5 customers in a span of three hours, which just goes on to show how irresponsible and uncourteous the management is. Thankfully, our servers were good.

Also, we were overcharged for our mocktails. They charged the cocktail prices for them and refused to accept that the prices are different for virgin drinks.

The only reason we would go back for would be the ambience and the view. The feeling of being far away in a beautiful place. If you ignore everything else, then you will definitely come back feeling refreshed and happy.

The Battle: I think I have said it enough number of times already 🙂

Boardwalk by Flamboyante – Google Maps

Boardwalk by Flamboyante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Café de Goa [ Calangute, Goa]

I googled the phrase ‘hidden gem’ and this was the result : Hidden gem is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about.

Wanna know why?

‘Coz I landed upon one!

Hidden away from the crazy hustle and bustle of Calangute, and nestled below a maroon tower, this one is kinda easy to be mistaken as a church building if one doesn’t know of its existence. I guess that made them put up a board with their name at the street corner.

 

Café de Goa is the perfect place for a cup of coffee and a few board games. With its cute, cozy and relaxed vibe, it will make you want to never leave.It features in Zomato’s hidden gems list and as selfish as it sounds, had it been in Mumbai, I would not tell an additional soul about it!

 

The bistro that offers a wide assortment of cakes, salads, sandwiches, muffins, brownies, and beverages. It also houses a grocery store with the concept of the small local store, for one’s day-to-day groceries and delicatessen and home made produces. They also have a few souvenirs, handicrafts and some sauces and dips for sale.

A wide variety of books, magazines, and board games keep you hooked on to the place a little longer. The options for vegetarians are really few, which is a disappointment, but whatever little they have to offer is delicious.

We reached here in desperate need of coffee and ordered the Mocha (Cappuccino with Chocolate). The strong fragrance of our coffee being prepared made our mouths salivate. The coffee was delicious and perfect. Chocolaty yet strong and a pretty sight of course!😍

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Mocha ( Cappuccino with Chocolate)

We tried the Vegetable Club Sandwich, which was just mindblowing! Delicious creamy sauces, mild spicy patty, loads of vegetables and cheese…. appetizing, to say the least! This one should be on your list for sure!

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Vegetable Club Sandwich

 

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Chocolate Cupcake

They have a large variety of desserts, with some specials made every day. Their cupcakes and plum balls looked delectable. We tried the Chocolate Cupcake and it was toothsome. Not very sweet with the perfect icing.

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Pineapple Mint Spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pineapple Lime spritzer was refreshing as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Experience: One word – amazing! The lovely ambience and chilled out service leave you all smiles. Not many people know of the place and no one bothers you to even order another item, let alone to get up and leave. Laze away your afternoons here. And it is not too heavy on the pocket!

Food 🙂

Ambience 🙂 🙂

Service 🙂

The Battle: That sandwich is sure to make you fight tooth and nail. I am still going yummmmm……. over it!

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Café de Goa – Google Maps

Cafe De Goa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato