Life in the ‘maximum city’ is a tough job! LONG distances to work. SHORT vacations. LONG queues at theatres, restaurants, pubs, banks, ATMs, job interviews, service phone calls, bill payments, bus stops, temples, mosques and churches… phew! And SHORT tempers at all of the above! The long and short of it is that living in a city like Mumbai takes a lot out of you, and you need frequent refills of good things like food, entertainment, friends… and sometimes food-entertainment-friends all rolled into one long, leisurely afternoon! And that’s exactly what we did at this delightful little place called, The Little Door (TLD)
Much like Dorothy’s ‘You had me at hello!’ in Jerry Maguire, the entrance itself charmed us with its bright blue, painted door – very ‘Secret Garden’-ish! Once inside, a pretty al fresco area greeted us with casually laid tables, bright pictures on textured white walls, a large stack of well-loved board games in the centre, and a beach shack-style bar in the corner. A glass door led into a little more subdued inside area, where deliberately mixed-up seating of bar stools, couches and chairs, and an informally laid-out food island in the middle of the room added an air of laid-back fun.
Since this was to be the first Drunch, or ‘Drunken’ Brunch, our group of five Sunday gluts – Ratoola, Riya, Soumik, Teddy and me – plunged into the various fresh, home-style salads and interesting mini-bites for starters to line our stomachs properly. You see, the agenda for the afternoon was pretty clear right from the start! The first round was quite sane – we neatly placed Crisp Bruschettas, Aioli Baby Potatoes, Salami Cups, Pickled Eggs, Balsamic Watermelon Skewers and Kheema Hummous on our plates, loving the freshness and distinctive flavours of each. The clear winner here, though, was the Green Goddess Prawn – a shot glass with a base of a tangy dip topped with a large Spicy Prawn that added a zing to a lazy lunch. But as the afternoon trudged on, and the Margeritas and Sangrias trickled in, picking and choosing of starters turned into a contest at the buffet bar, and back at the table it became a free-for-all with forks and fingers flying over plates, with little regard for decorum or restraint!
The place had filled up completely by now. The kitchen was a blur of activity as platefuls of food appeared and disappeared in no time. We managed to place our orders from the menu, which changes EVERY Sunday to keep both the kitchen staff and the diners excited about the food, confided Tanu Narang Moghe, the pretty, young co-owner of TLD. After a longish wait, the food started arriving at our cocktail-laden table, the large plates snaking their way precariously through tilting trays (and girls!) to reach our corner of the room. A Champagne Risotto (very nice), a Pesto Gnocchi (so-so), a Prawn and Basa on Celery Rice (fab!) and a Tender Lamb (just good) comprised our own little buffet. Strangely, one of us actually ordered for a Shakshouka (nice) from their elaborate, all-day breakfast menu! How? Why??
Outside, beyond the glass walls, the rain kept up a constant, rhythmic drumming on the roof as some people settled down to Jenga, some with Scrabble, a big family reunion gathered momentum, and a girlie gang sported an impressive beer bottle collection 🙂 But back inside, the scene was far from chilled out. An old friend, Brian D’Costa’s voice boomed out over the loud speaker, the Karaoke screen crackled into life, and the energy in the room shifted several gears. Song books flew from table to table, groups of diners, perfect strangers till now, jointly picked out the most offbeat songs to sing, tuneless singing started getting more cheers than tuneful ones, and a group of boys belted out an earnest, choir-like version of ‘Like A Virgin’!!!
Teddy sang heartily in-between mouthfuls of the delicious Nutella Banana Pancake, a signature dish that this place can truly be proud of. I think he had FIVE of those, but who’s counting? It was his ‘Dessert Day of the Week’ and he had the license to go ballistic on the ‘Drunkesserts’ laid out alluringly on the bar counter. The Blue Velvet Cake looked stunning, the Mango Tarts were delicious, and the fat cylinders of Blueberry Cheesecake were just gorgeous. Ratoola, the Chocolate Queen, held sway over her court with a ‘chocolate-only’ plate of rich chocolate cake, chocolate hazelnut pastry and assorted cupcakes and tarts, enough for a chocolate high!
Four hours of eating, drinking, chatting, singing, dancing, and prancing whizzed by like a happy dream. When the walls shook for one last time with at least 7 different scales of ‘We Are The World’ with everyone, even the chirpy restaurant manager, Rohit Naik, joining in for good measure, it was finally time to crawl back home!
In a city like Mumbai, it’s not impossible to find a group of friends who will match (and often beat!) your capacity to eat, drink and make merry. But in a city like Mumbai, it is nearly impossible to find a group of friends who will do it ALL, consistently, over years, and STILL remain best of friends! So here’s raising a toast to my GANG for being consistent ‘drunchers’, and to TLD, a destination for good times (their ‘Acoustic Tuesdays’ with live singing is a quick-heal remedy to recover from the Sunday cacophony!) and THE funnest of all fun places in this, the ‘maximum city’!
Plate-licker’s Wisdom : Grab your gang and head to The Little Door for an unforgettable Sunday brunch experience… and then go back again!