Aleph – The Divine Space [Juhu]

The Greatest Secrets are Always Hidden in the Most Unlikely Places – Roald Dahl
And we are going to tell you a secret today. ‘Coz we are feeling especially generous!
Why?
Because some stories demand to be shared and told.
One such story is about the amazing place started by first-time restaurateur Kishin Thakur. How and when this place – Aleph, The Divine Space, came about is his to tell but we are here to tell you the story of how much we have loved this place!
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A house to a ‘yoga retreat’ by morning and a stage for musical gigs and book readings come evening. And during this transition, it serves as a co-working space for the serious and a café with a wholesome grub for the others.
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Located in the same vicinity as Prithvi Café,  Aleph is hidden from plain sight.
Look through the canopy of trees and you will see the name Aleph displayed in prominent red. Once you have successfully located the place, you have to locate the entrance.
It would have left us confounded if not for the staff who waved at us and guided us through the thin lane up to the entrance of the café. Don’t be worried if you see yourself walking from near a salon and the backside of buildings, you are going in the right direction.
No point searching this place on Zomato, it is not listed there.  That’s why we are here – You can either approach Aleph TDS from the narrow lane next to Café Moshes or from the main entrance to Janki Kutir, take the first left (Maya Salon) and another left and you will see a board saying Aleph TDS…..and voila, you are here.
Spread over two floors, Aleph is a beautiful café with colourful decor, walls painted and drawn on by patrons, books stacked up in a corner, card and board games, really comfortable and cosy ambience. The lower floor is an indoor section and there is a rooftop seating as well. There are mattresses for low seating, high seats, low stools like modas and sofas to choose from.
We picked a spot on the rooftop. The walls here are painted with random things by the customers. The owner and staff offer you to leave your mark on these walls too! They give you the paints and brushes, you pick a spot and get painting!
Aleph is peaceful and calm and just amazing! Covered in trees and plants and has a very very homely feel to it. Soft music plays in the background which again can be picked by the customers. Aleph TDS is what this city needs in every nook and corner. A no-fuss space that suits the needs of most of us.
Want to work/study and need a quiet space and a WiFi connection? ✔
Want to spend a quality evening with your friends over card games and coffee? ✔
Want to test your skills in the kitchen?✔
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Yes, even the last one. Aleph has a small kitchen and they allow people to make their own food (from their menu that is) if they so choose.
So you wanna try that Kale Soya Burger? Give it a shot in the kitchen and the staff will guide you through it.
They have a small menu but cover a decent variety. We love the Positivi- Tea Only and Sippin’ on Sunshine section with so many varieties of tea and coffee. Cold Coffee specials are decided separately and you can ask them for the options. They have mouthwatering dessert jars and waffles. Their burgers are especially tempting with unique patties and sauces.
Pick from Mac & Cheese, Kale Soya, or Falafel patty and toss in a little bit of Wasabi Mayo, Garlic Aioli, Mexican Chipotle, or Garlic Hummus. A variety of toppings is also available along with a number of non-veg options.
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We tried Nutella Cold Coffee (₹250), Hazelnut Cold Coffee (₹250) and Chocolate Cold Coffee (₹250).
They were really good with a proper combination of flavours and coffee, but we pick the hazelnut one which was particularly refreshing. The Nutella Cold Coffee had a little too much of the nutty flavour for our liking and Chocolate Cold coffee was a bit too sweet. so you can choose to tell the staff your preference and they will make it less sweet for you if you like!
We also tried the Fruit Bliss Iced Tea which was fruity and refreshing!
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Fruit Bliss Iced Tea
We went a little overboard with the first burger we tried – Mac & Cheese Patty, Multigrain bread and all the sauces and toppings! Yes, all!
That makes it a little difficult for us to describe the burger but all we can say is that it was delicious. A deliciously confusing mess! 😍 🍔
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Mac & Cheese Burger
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We then tried our hand at making the Grilled Paneer Patty Burger.
We chose Garlic Aioli, Mexican Chipotle and Minty Mayonnaise as the sauces this time.
The staff helped us deck up our burger which was delicious.
Chipotle added a little spice and the mint mayo added the sweet and refreshing minty flavour.
The patty was delicious too. Loved it! 🍔
The burgers are priced at ₹290.
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Grilled Paneer Burger
Aleph – TDS is now coming up with a breakfast menu that they will serve from 8 am to 11 am every day. Complete with eggs and Indian options, this is something we look forward to. They are also planning or starting movie night here, so gear up for kickass movies every week. All this when we thought this place could not get more awesome! 😉
This place becomes insanely beautiful in the late evenings and night with the colourful lights and music. Heaven!
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There are times when all of us need a place to unwind and be away from the chaos of our daily lives. The next time you are feeling this feeling, head to Aleph.
But shhh….. keep this a secret!
Overall Experience: The staff and owner are very friendly. They make sure to take your feedback on whatever they prepare and about your experience at the café.
The ambience is such that you never want to get up and leave. Homely and relaxing.
Food 🙂
Ambience 🙂
Service 🙂
The Battle: Having to get up and get back to traffic and drama and work is so difficult after finding a safe heaven like this!!
Timings: 8 am to 10 pm
Cost for 2 (food & beverages only): Around ₹ 800 – ₹1000
Our meal came to ₹1530
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Prithvi Café [Juhu]

Ever heard of an oxymoron? It is an oxymoron when contradictory terms are used in the same sentence, maybe to describe the same thing. Language can be excitingly confusing! So can be people. And places. Yes, places indeed.

Calm and noisy? Peaceful and buzzing? Hidden but well-known? That is Prithvi Cafe for me. It is one of my favourite places to go to. Be it just to spend some time alone or to hang out with friends, it is always a ‘yes’ if the question is ‘Prithvi?’ 

Prithvi cafe is an open air cafe, in the crowded Juhu area, but a little away from the crazy hustle and bustle of traffic. Surrounded by trees, and bamboos, with black granite seatings. It also has a partially covered area that overlooks the kitchen. Prithvi cafe is crowded. Always crowded, and the crowd is increasing with time. But go here in the afternoon and you may be lucky enough to find a quiet corner for yourself and your book and coffee. People are always waiting to grab a spot here and fighting to stay a little longer.

While you are here, try and catch a play, or just look around and you will always stumble upon a Theatre or Bollywood personality. Give the quaint little Prithivi Bookshop a chance, or just be content hanging out with some amazing food to nibble on.

My favourite thing to have here is Beer Bottle Chaas. It is delicious and always puts first timers into a confusion. A lot many people have given me stinky eyes and confused glances over these!

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Beer Bottle Chaas

I recommend almost everything on the menu here. Here is a peep into what we tried on our last visit to Prithvi Cafe :

Pav Bhaji here is lip-smackingly delicious. The Cottage Cheese, Pesto & Corn Pizza  is a cheesy thin crust pizza. The base sauce gives is a tangy taste. Cheese Chilli Toast is a cheesy delight, although it lacks the chilli part, add a few chilli flakes and you are good to go.

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The chaats here are always a good option. Penne in mixed sauce  is delicious pasta. Cheesy creamy sauce that leaves you wanting more. We licked the last residue off of the dish! I recommend this one to all!

The parathas here are made hot, right in front of you (or behind depending on where you sit) and the aroma makes your mouth water till they finally arrive on your table. Aloo Paratha  was served with curd and a bowl of delectable Dal Makhni.

 

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Penne in mixed sauce
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Aloo Paratha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Forest Jar is goodness in a jar.  Not very sweet, with layers of cream, brownie and topped with a cherry. Delicious. Their Bun Maska and Cutting Chai are mass favourites. I can vouch for the bun maska, try the tea for yourself! 😛😛

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Black Forest Jar
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Peace Iced Tea

Overall Experience: The service here is so so. Some of the servers are too overburdened, and some just don’t care. Prithvi Cafe is not exactly easy on the pocket, but not very pricey either.

Food 🙂

Ambience 🙂

Service 😐

 

 

The Battle: One doesn’t feel like leaving the alive and kicking atmosphere behind. And I can’t seem to get enough of their Beer Bottle Chass!

Prithvi Cafe – Google Maps

Prithvi Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea Villa Cafe [Bandra]

Ya Ya, it is finally here! For all those of you who have been asking me about Tea Villa Cafe and for those who haven’t heard of the place as well (which century do you live in by the way?)

Tea Villa Cafe is a fairly new chain that has managed to create a whole lot of buzz around it. I remember passing by the Hill Road outlet and then altering my day’s schedule just to pay a visit to the cafe. The place looks beautiful. It is done up in white and black and silver and is just marvellous. The ambience is outstanding and the place is crowded even on a weekday noon.

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After finally settling on a place to sit, I went through their extensive menu! I decided to first order coffee. My first order was the Triple Berry Coffee . Not much of a ‘hot’ and ‘strange things mixed in the coffee’ lover, this one blew my mind away! It is basically black coffee, mildly sweet with a strong blend of berries and dark chocolate dancing on your tongue with every sip. Mix that with a ton of whipped cream and the combination is stunning. The aroma is just as amazing. I think I haven’t stopped recommending this coffee to anyone who utters the name Tea Villa Cafe.

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Triple Berry Coffee

The next order was of Chocolate Bolt. A cold coffee full of chocolate, the taste of which hits you like a bolt. An ideal name I say!

 

After satisfying the coffee buds in my tongue, it was time for some food. Not really very hungry, I decided to go for the Grill Paneer Sandwich. It has grilled paneer, roasted garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes topped with mayo. Sounded nice, but was such a disappointment. The happiness level that was reaching high up after the amazing dose of coffee came crashing down. I don’t think I had been that disappointed that quickly ever. I struggled to finish the sandwich (which I couldn’t) and got up and left.

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Grill Paneer Sandwich
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Grill Paneer Sandwich

 

Nope, it doesn’t end there!

As I said, the place has created a whole lot of buzz and after being continually flooded with messages that went along the lines of ‘I must try Tea Villa Cafe’, I decided to give it another shot. This time, I visited the outlet at Vile Parle.

It was a Sunday morning, and the cafe was partially filled. I was actually put off by the condition of the cafe. It was sprawling with flies. Granted it is the monsoon, and the cafe is located on a busy road, but that is no excuse to be so indifferent to cleanliness. The caretakers tried their best to clean up the mess, but it was futile since it was too late.  Anyway, getting past that, we decided to get on to business – food!!

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Oreo Waffle

We started with the Oreo Waffles. The waffles were just mind blowing. Loaded with Oreo crumbs, white & dark chocolate sauce it was heavenly! The serve this with a melted chocolate which is delicious, but solidifies after a while! Why wait a while to finish the goodness anyway?

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Oreo Waffle

 

 

Well, after the amazing waffles, I was starting to feel a little optimistic about the food. We ordered the Villa Special Fries Basket ,  which comes with a mix of potato wedges and sweet potato fries. It is served with three different sauces. I am of the opinion that if a place that has great coffee and can nail french fries, the place is a gem.

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Villa Special Fries Basket

 

Just as I was about to write myself off for my previous opinion about their food, they decided to prove me right. We ordered the Penne Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce, (make your own). To say that the pasta was a disappointment will be letting it off the hook too easy. We struggled to finish it.

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Penne Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce

 

We also ordered Crunchy Cream and Mocha Frappe both of which were amazing.

 

Overall Experience: Some places just leave you disappointed beyond reason. The coffee & tea served at Tea Villa Cafe is just plain amazing. The variety, the perfection, is mind blowing. But I would not be giving them another chance for their food definitely!

Food 😦

Service 🙂

Ambience 🙂

The Battle: On the brighter side, it will be a struggle to find one favourite coffee (or tea) here. They are just mind blowing!

Tea Villa Cafe , Bandra – Google Maps

Tea Villa Cafe , Vile Parle – Google Maps
Tea Villa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Chocolate Heaven [Vile Parle]

The Chocolate Heaven had served as a regular hangout for me long ago and I have wanted to go try all their yummy sundaes and pasta again ever since!

I went here a few days ago, almost around midnight and was welcomed to a quiet cafe with Bollywood songs being played in the background.

Immediately I opened the menu to the pasta section and ordered Spinach Garlic Fusilli Cheese Pasta. The smell of the pasta being prepared really made my mouth water uncontrollably.

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Spinach Garlic Fusilli Cheese Pasta

 

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Spinach Garlic Fusilli Cheese Pasta

Since the pasta is otherwise non-spicy, we added tons of chilli flakes. I just love how the colours pop out in this image. The pasta is very palatable and flavoursome with the perfect cheesy, garlic-y taste. I really had forgotten how amazing this used to be! The Spinach Garlic Fusilli Cheese Pasta is a must have item on their menu.

As we waited for our pasta to arrive, we treated ourselves to some Hot Chocolate and Chilli Garlic Potato Pops. The hot chocolate is basic and the potato pops though really tasty are very low in quantity. The fact that the pasta was so good saved me from the disappointment I would have otherwise faced.

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Hot Chocolate

 

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Chilli Garlic Potato Pops

 

 

The Battle: The one I am fighting right now as my mouth waters for a little, no scratch that, for a lot more of that pasta!!

My two cents: Go here for their yummy pasta and desserts. The ambience may not be amazing, but the food totally makes it worth it!

The Chocolate Heaven – Google Maps

The Chocolate Heaven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Spare Kitchen [Vile Parle]

Hello people!

I am in a happy mood today, so I shall tell you a story.

Once upon a time, two people decided they were super-duper hungry and had to find a good place to eat. They looked far and wide but for some reason, the universe was conspiring against them that day. Wherever they went, they were faced with one predicament or another; either they could not find parking or they could not come to terms with eating Chinese or worse, some places were shut ‘coz u know – hip places open in the evening. And some perfectly fine places they came across, they just could not agree with each other.

Defeated, they wandered in the bylanes of Juhu. It seemed that they would have to go hungry that day. When all hope seemed lost and they were ready to give up and have roadside dosa….. they came across a tiny board a little ahead that said “The Spare Kitchen” and pointed north. With renewed energy, they made their way towards the ray of hope. Hastily they made their way inside, took in the surroundings and smiled to themselves. And then they ate till to their heart’s content. The End!

Now let me tell you a secret – I am one of the protagonists in the story. Awesome, I know!! And no, I am not going to give any explanations as to why I was behaving like I live in medieval times and could not use the internet to locate a place to eat.

 

Anyway, let’s get talking about ‘The Spare Kitchen’ now. If I had to describe the place in a few words, I would say cozy, spacious and inviting. And when I say spacious, I mean very spacious. The place is huge with multiple dining sections, each having a unique appearance. There is a wide-spread dining area (like any other fine dine restaurant), a bar area, an outside seating area perfect for chilling with a group of friends over a match and two lounge areas –  one in the interior complete with blue lights, et. al and one in the exterior with TVs for individual sofas. Yup, it’s that huge.

 

The menu also has a good spread with many options of what they call ‘Progressive Indian Food’ and elaborate explanations. They also have a ‘Ninza’ section which is  ‘Pizza on a Naan base’ where they let you decide the toppings. This is in addition to the ‘Make your own Pizza’ option. We were not in the mood for pizza, maybe next time we will get a Ninza! If you are not in the mood for North Indian food, you have options like pasta, risotto and burgers to choose from. But I have a feeling that if you choose to sit in the dining area…. north Indian options are going to tempt you.

I decided to begin with the dessert. That is another thing I do, I tend to order dessert first even though the servers give me curious looks when I ask for the dessert menu first. Chances are, if they get the desserts right,  they will most probably get the food right!

So we decided to order the Thandai Panna Cotta with Benarasi Paan Macaroons. I know what you are thinking. I ordered it for the same intriguing name and description too. The panna cotta was creamy and melted in the mouth without any trace of lumps. Made to perfection. The top red layer added to the charm of this wobbly and delicate dessert. The macaroons were tenderly crispy, but really tiny and had a distinct paan flavour. All in all, it was amazing.

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Thandai Panna Cotta with Benarasi Paan Macaroons
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Thandai Panna Cotta with Benarasi Paan Macaroons

 

The next we ordered Wok tossed Chilli Garlic Paneer.  The paneer aka cottage cheese was soft and supple but the dish had a little too much oil. It was the right amount of spicy and was served beautifully. A little less oil and I would say 5/5.

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Wok tossed Chilli Garlic Paneer

 

We ordered the Assorted Papad Platter which came with four types of papads (three pieces of each). My favourite was the topi masala papad served in small glasses. They also give a papad, sauce and pickle platter over and above this. That means we had way too many papads to finish. Not that I am complaining. I am a Marwari, papad for me is what fries are for burgers. A meal like this is not complete without them. Though I would have appreciated if the server had informed us about this.

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Assorted Papad Platter

From the ‘Progressive Mains’ we ordered the Kadhai Velvet Seekh Masala to go with Chilli Garlic Naan.  The dish blew my mind away. It really made me forget that the appetizer had almost disappointed me. The quantity is amazing. We had to over stuff ourselves and yet we could not finish it. The gravy was amazing; tangy and spicy. I can easily place it in my list of top ten best north Indian vegetables I have had if I had a list like that.

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Kadhai Velvet Seekh Masala

 

We were almost exploding. But you have to have dessert after a meal, irrespective of the fact that you began with it! So we ordered something very basic – Icecream.  Two small scoops, one vanilla and one chocolate served with chocolate sauce.

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Icecream

The Battle: Leaving the place. It has a great ambience and you will want to spend a little more time here. Also, trying to finish the kadhai vegetable was a challenge. Even after two helpings each, we had to get it parcelled!!

PS: Do not worry about parking, they have ample space and have valet facility too.

The Spare Kitchen – Google Maps

 

The Spare Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato