Well Café [Auroville]

We will go anywhere for food. Seriously, anywhere.

That explains why we took an hour-long ride in the hot sun, after a scuba session (❤) to reach the depths of Auroville. Hidden away in the interiors of Auroville, you will find many a treasures and Well Café is one such treasure.

Wilderness is that word that defines this place the best.

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Why we recommend this café?

Firstly, the food is insanely good. It is simple yet amazing. The café specialises in Mediterranian cuisine with limited options and the food is prepared fresh by the local women.

Secondly, the ambience is amazing. An open garden café with random chairs strewn under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. You will find crafts made from recycled paper hanging from above. Chirping birds, a dog or two, and a few really colourful insects (we did not know God made these, this colourful!!) are your company. But don’t let this worry you, sometimes, such an ambience can do wonders!

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Thirdly, the café and the entire WELL centre (that includes a handmade paper shop, art gallery, etc. ) is managed by women for the empowerment of women in this area. This place gives you a peek into their lives. Spend some time and chat with the locals and they will share their stories with you! There also is a homestay next door and in case, living amidst a thick cover and with locals is your calling, you should definitely check out this place.

Fourthly, this café also hosts musical nights and other events from time to time. The ambience is then transformed to one of those mid forest camping-party style places which makes it even more awesome.

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What we absolutely love and still lust over are the Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette and the Eggplant & Labane Baguette. 

First I burned my tongue fighting over the super hot vegetable omelette and now I am drooling all over my laptop at the thought it. This cannot be good!

Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette – The vegetable omelette was delicious on its own. Thick and so well spiced, it had onions, coriander and more. The curd cheese that was spread over the crispy pieces of bread was heavenly. Yup, we did lick it off the plate! If only we could fill like a jar or a room with it and bring it back to Mumbai!! These were served with three salads, a beetroot and cream based, a mixture of cabbage, beetroot, carrots & more and another one which had a little tart due to the addition of vinegarette.

Eggplant & Labane Baguette – Labane or curd cheese spread generously over the crispy bread, topped with smoked eggplant slices. This was another delight! This was also served with salads, a pepper spiced cauliflower based salad being one of the portions served.

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Eggplant & Labane Baguette

 

Well Café is a place you would enjoy as much for the food and courteous, smiling service as you would for the peaceful escape it provides from all forms of chaos!

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If you are ever in Auroville, this is definitely a place you should check out!

 

P.S.: Trust Google Maps, even if you feel it has lost its mind! It will bring you here.

 

 

Well Cafe [Auroville] – Google Maps

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

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Boardwalk by Flamboyante [Alibaug/Mandwa]

There is no blue like the Greek blue…… 

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 and perfect sunset! What more does one need!

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

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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From the mocktails, we enjoyed Fresh Fruit Margarita and Shirley Temple. We also had Virgin Caprioska and Fresh Lime Soda.

 

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).

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.

Boardwalk by Flamboyante – Google Maps

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

Kiki’s Café and Deli [Alibaug/Mandwa]

Imagine your closest friends, a cup or two of coffee, infectious laughter and the soothing music of the waves splashing against the coast right in front of you.

Nope, not a dream. Just get on the ferry to Mandwa and head to Kiki’s Café and Deli to enjoy a peaceful view with some good food. The cafe is located near the jetty and serves some quick bites and beverages along with an amazing view.

The interiors are fun, colourful and funky. The indoor seating is spacious with different seating to accommodate a small as well as a large group. However, the outdoor seating is the real deal, with the view of the beach, this is just amazing for a morning breakfast or an evening coffee. The cafe opens at 8 am, which is just perfect! We visited the cafe early Sunday morning for a lazy breakfast and came back happy, although a little light in the pockets!

 

Here is a peep into what our Sunday morning looked like, or rather, tasted like!

Egg Kejriwal: I am no master on this dish, but it tasted as good as it looks! Two runny fried eggs with lots of chillies, salt and pepper. The bread was toasted to the perfect golden brown shade and the dish overall was yummy!

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The Allibugger Pizza is one of the items you should definitely give a shot. Thin crust flatbread, with mildly spicy green chutney (mint) as the base, which gave it a mouthwatering aroma. The toppings included potatoes (surprising, I know), capsicum and onions with lots of cheese! Loved it!

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Green Garlic Paneer: Soft malai paneer pieces, made crispy on the outside by shallow frying them. The paneer melts in the mouth at the first bite. Tossed in a semi-dry garlic and spring onion mixture, this one was well made. The quantity is really little, though.

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Kiki’s Cafe and Deli is a place to chill and unwind, away from the cacophony and pollution of Mumbai. Although it does lack music and maybe a few games to keep people more engaged, there is an option of enjoying some basic water rides at the beach. Apparently, they also arrange for speed boat rides to and fro Mumbai.

Overall Experience: The cafe is not really light on the pocket, but a splurge that is well justified. Just imagine the view and ambience in rains! The ambience is good and the service is friendly. The food is not extraordinary but a few things are good. Their pizzas especially are a good deal. Our bill came to a total of  ₹ 2910.

How to get here – Take a ferry from Gateway of India, Colaba for Mandwa. The prices range between 110 to 180, with multiple options like the upper-deck and AC sections as well in certain ferries. Speedboats are also available. There are ferries every 30 minutes but the last ferry back to Mumbai is at 7 pm. (Please check for current changes in timings and prices).

Kiki’s Café and Deli – Google Maps

Kikis Cafe & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Café de Goa [ Calangute, Goa]

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

Wanna the sudden language lesson?

‘Coz we 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.

 

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 homemade produce. 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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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! 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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Overall Experience: One word – amazing! The lovely ambience and friendly 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!

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Café de Goa – Google Maps

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