Looking Back at 2015
It has been an action packed year! The food and beverage space in Mumbai finally saw some vigor. In these last few days of 2015, we took a look at some of the biggest launches, openings and trends along with a few mentions from other cities which made an impact.
Bars Are Back
It all began with the opening of Colaba Social last year in August, close at its heel was The Bar Stock Exchange – rinks are cheap and the India-influenced pub grub is filling. This year it was all about expanding the concept. The Bar Stock Exchange opened 2 new outposts in BKC and Bandra, Social expanded in Todi Mills, Palladium and Khar and Hoppipola reached Lower Parel. One restaurant which upped the ante was Monkey Bar.
This trend has become quite the winner for restaurateurs, raking in moolah and moving alcohol stocks. Try making your way through any of these places over the weekend, for that matter even mid-week, you’ll know what we mean.
Not just these, eateries are focusing on their bars as much as their food, and that makes us happy. Now, to move towards less sugary cocktails and we will be at peace!
Wining and Dining
It may have been a low key affair for wines in general but there were some big events worth noting. India’s most well known wine brand, Sula celebrated their 10th anniversary with the launch of a new sparkling wine – Sula Tropicale.
In other news Hampi-based KRSMA Wineries and Grover Zampa Vineyards won silver and bronze medals at Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015 which is a proof of growth in Indian wines. KRSMA Winery also held a vertical tasting of their last few vintages in Bangalore and it was an exemplary tasting, the best showcase of Indian wines we’ve seen.
Sula Vineyards launched their 100% grape brandy – Janus in Goa. This project was long overdue. We were the first to taste the brandy outside the Sula team and we see great potential in it. Our enthusiasm knew no bounds when we found out that Monkey Shoulder, a blended single malt whisky has finally made its way in India. It is one of our favorite whisky which tastes great both on its own and as a cocktail.
Goa lovers were ecstatic when the stubby bottle beer, Kings came to Mumbai after much anticipation and wait. The brand has gone through a complete overhaul and we’re happy to inform it is one of the best commercial lagers available in the city.
Craft Beers Continue to Grow
Entire of Mumbai was buzzing with excitement when the news of Pune’s Doolally opening in Bandra went around. The buzz hasn’t abated, their Taproom in Bandra still goes packed, thank god they opened another taproom in Andheri.
Speaking of Andheri, you have to give it to the suburb for having the maximum number of craft beers available in one locality. Apart from Doolally, Woodside Inn stocks Gateway Brewing Co and Pune-based Independence Brewing Co also launched their beers with them. Brewbot finally started brewing and it’s neighbour Boveda stock brews from The White Owl. And the latest to enter the fray is The Pump Room. On the commercial front Bira 91 is going strong with their two variants – White and Blonde.
Small spaces, designed to resemble an idyllic, shabby chic country-kitchen, serving food which is not just satiating but also aesthetic. It is all about the home-like experience in eating out. Villa Vandre, Desi Deli, The Homemade Cafe and a few other form a chunk of the quaint brigade. A lot of these cafes are adding an Indian twist to their food without becoming a fusion-confusion.
The biggest disappointment for food lovers across the state has to be the irksome beef ban. Not only is sale prohibited but if beef is found on your person even that is considered an offense. That is why there is no import of beef either. Ironically, India still remains one of the biggest exporter of beef to the world. What makes the situation worse is the politicization of food when there are citizens who barely get two square meals a day.
Alternative Food Experiences
Leading the way here are home chefs who have very generously opened up their kitchens to folks who yearn to find out about new cuisines and the homely touch. Leading the way is Gitika Saikia of Gitika’s Pakghor, Perzen Patel of The Bawi Bride, Munaf and Nafisa Kapadia who run The Bohri Kitchen and Grandma Mookerjee’s Kitchen which is run by Auroni Mookerjee. These few entrepreneurial minds have created such a niche that there are plenty to who want to get on the bandwagon. It is a task to run a passion and a regular day job with the same dedication.
Food Tech Buzz
There has been so much noise around the rise and fall of food tech and start-ups. Mumbai saw introduction of three food ordering apps – Zomato Order, Swiggy and Scootsy. With TinyOwl and Food Panda already being there, we feel it is a crowded space and all of them have challenges of their own. Only time will tell who wins this race.
Desserts’ New Avatar
We’ve progressed from frozen yogurt and cupcake madness into a more evolved and sustaining desserts. From gourmet ice creams to milkshake bars, desserts have seen an interesting growth curve. Stalwarts like La Folie and Le 15 Patisserie expanded and new brands like Toshin, Milkshake & Co and Farmik are offering a new experience.
Gourmet with a Twist
No longer are restaurateurs afraid of experimenting (to a certain extent) with concepts and cuisines. Experimental oriental to contemporary Indian like The Bombay Canteen, Pa Pa Ya, and One Street Over are perfect examples. What we like about these new breed of restaurants is that they aren’t prohibitively priced and they make their food approachable.
Rise of Take Away
Restaurants are understanding the value of take away and delivery only model in a time starved city like Mumbai. Catering to the office crowd and the lazy ones, places Oye Panjabi Kitchen, The Bao Haus, Charcoal Biryani, Maak-a-paw and Where’s My Cone? have found a great business model. They’re not just saving on the exorbitant Mumbai real estate rents but exercising complete quality control.
You can never go wrong with pizzas
Especially with guys like Crave, 1 Tablespoon and Playlist Pizzeria focusing on quality, taste and consistency of their pies.
Mumbai gets food trucks
Finally. After food trucks being all the rage in Bangalore and Delhi. Mumbaikars can now get on the bandwagon. The food being offered is also various from burritos to sandwiches.
Return of Tea
Another movement which started last year and has picked up pace in 2015. Tea lounges are the new phase and gearing up to give coffee culture tough competition. With the opening of Chaayos outlets and Taj Mahal Tea House, along with brands like Tea Trails and XVII Tea Lounge (which opened last year) not to mention the local Tapris, tea still has large audience across varying price points.