Believe it or not, in country where mooh meetha is such an integral experience, a good dessert is harder to find than one might think. But never fear when I am here to sort the chaff from the good stuff!
First off a few disclaimers. I’m heartily over cupcakes and macaroons! They are about as trendy/tiring as it-bags and done to death. Hence don’t be surprised if you don’t spot mentions of Tart, Butterfly or Le 15; we’re sure cupcake evangelists don’t need a recommendation to spin butter cream frosting fantasies, though Tart does do some excellent cakes on order especially the banana cream cheese version. Avoid 5-star patisseries because über-superiority is a given when it’s a five-star especially to justify the whopping prices. Hence leave out Leela’s Dolce despite its salted caramel cupcakes having some ardent followers as well as the newly opened chocolaterie/patisserie Debailleul which flash-freezes its desserts and flies them in from France; no rocket science in that is there? Very regretfully I excluded in-house bakery at WIllingdon Club, Haji Ali as well despite its hearty cakes, jam sandwich biscuits and macaroon biscuits (those big knobby ones filled with coconut!) since its accessible only to members.
Eeeuuuu now i can mention some sweet scores!
Baked Molten Chocolate Cake @ Moshes: It is one of the best chocolate desserts in town; an all-time classic featuring a dark spongy layer of cake which gives way under the urging of our spoons to yield bubbling hot chocolate, dense, lightly sweet and very, very dark, just the way we like it. For the diet-conscious the flourless L’Orange with an intense hint of orange is a good runner-up as well. Price: Rs. 250 approx
Banana Flip Torte @ 5 All Day – A thin layer of chocolate cookie crumble laid over with caramelised banana mash and a topping of mascarpone cream and apple slices exploded in my mouth in a creamy fragrant sweetness. After banoffie this has got to be favourite banana dessert of my and my friend ever! Price: Rs. 200/- approx
Panancotta @ Pali Village Cafe: One of my all time favourite desserts ever, I don’t take too kindly to chefs who botch this up, but PVC earns brownie points for life because they do a delightful version of this Italian favourite in Love Bite section (hyperlink): Price: Rs. 350 approx
Bread Pudding @ Candies: If anything bought off the counter had to classify as homey comfort it would have to be this. Reminiscent of growing up years when mummy mashed stale bread with milk n’ dry fruits to create a surprise weekday treat, the Candies version retains the moist plumpness of the memories with just the right amount of sweetness peppered with plump raisins. It’s the perfect ending to a salad n’ sandwich lunch or an accompaniment to the evening cappuccino. When you need mummy’s soothing touch, this is the next best thing at hand! Price: Rs. 90 approx
Caramel Custard @ Universal Café – Universal Cafe at Ballard Estate is one of the last of the quintessential Irani cafes which define the Cosmopolitan soul of Munbai serving hearty Irani teatime snacks and meals alongwith club-style continental dishes and the best ending to all those meals, their Caramel Custrad. It always has the right balance of eggs and caramelised sugar, neither too sweet, nor too eggy. This one is my friend’s favourite comfort go-to dessert. Price: Approx Rs. 60 each
Banoffie Pie @ Theobroma: If desserts had to have vintage chic banoffie would top the grade. It’s got toffee, banana, cream and biscuit all rolled into hearty goodness. For the longest time we looked no further than the Mocambo version Theobroma offers a delightful alternative though be warned, it’s a meal in itself and definitely not for the calorie conscious! Price: Rs. 120 approx
Crème Brulee @ Indigo: We realize we run the risk of sounding like Indigo groupies but they are a restaurant after our heart; they do the basics well and never, never screw them up, no matter how many years go by! Crème brulee is the Chanel LBD of desserts, simple at one level yet deceptively difficult to get right. The consistency can range from runny to clotted unless one masters the even thickness that Indigo has. Ditto for the perfect layer of caramelized sugar, not too thick or thin and the most crucial, real vanilla beans and this one is a head turner for all ages. Price: Rs. 400 approx
Dulce de Leche @ Indigo: A lot of people don’t think ice cream qualifies as a bona fide dessert given our run-ins with commercial ices since childhood. Hence for these folks we suggest mandatory samplings of the dulce de leche ice-cream at Indigo & Indigo Deli which is basically thickened caramelized milk frozen to ice cream; Italian kulfi if you will! Price: Rs.350 approx
Chocolate Cigar with Prunes & Armagnac Ice-Cream @ Joss: This is another must-try which includes a rich log of chocolate set off by the ice-cream laced with juicy prunes and the intoxicating whiffs of Armagnac cognac; this is one dessert meant for collective pleasures, both sharing and swooning! Price: Rs. 350 approx
Carrot Cake @ Kala Ghoda Café: We secretly take credit for ‘discovering’ KGC which we consider Bombay’s best café enough said. Whether it’s their signature salad, their artisanal bread or their organic coffees everything is exemplary sans frills. And their carrot cake is genius on a plate, a huge hunk of moist nutty goodness served with the most original accompaniment of orange clotted cream. To find out what the carrot does with the cream on the palate, this dessert is better eaten than described: Price: Rs. 150 approx