Two spectacular resorts in Cherrapunjee that will win over your hearts!

Cherrapunjee, famed for being one of the wettest places on earth (Mawsynram being the wettest) is breathtakingly beautiful and serene. The beautiful roads and the lush valleys and the forever foggy landscapes made us fall for them right away. Over the next three days, this love only grew stronger. Although the heart has no reasons, we can definitely tell you that these two places – Café Cherrapunjee Resort and Sa-I-Mika Park & Resort – had a huge role to play.

We drove from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee and had already booked our stay at Café Cherrapunjee a couple of days ago, but there was a certain anxiety, probably stemming from the fact that our stay in Guwahati had been not so great. We drove for a couple of hours to reach Sohra, the historical name of Cherrapunjee, and driving through the Sohra-Shella road, I saw a beautiful scene – stone-walled cottages with strikingly green coloured roofs and just as I was about to whisk my phone out to click a picture, we took a turn towards the cottages!

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This was our stay! This was our actual stay!! Yes, we had visited their site and booked the stay but images on the internet are not meant to be taken seriously, right?

We were overwhelmed by the beauty of this place! The clear blue sky behind the beautiful cottages, tall and lush green pine trees, smoke coming out of the chimney in the central cottage, this was a scene out of an old movie based in Scotland…but only, it was real. I vividly remember jumping around like an overjoyed kid as soon as the car came to a halt! The moment still makes me smile.

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Our room was in this cottage

Café Cherrapunjee had stolen our hearts and we were happy it had! Based in Mawdok village, midway from Shillong and the main Cherrapunjee Market, this quaint and beautiful place will make you want to stay back forever. The cottages are cozy, outstandingly clean and have a rustic charm. Tents are also available if you want to be adventurous. The age-old Dak Bungalow is converted to a restaurant/café where the staff (more hospitable than anyone you have met) whips up some delicious and heart-warming food. The cell reception is weak here and the resort has no WiFi, giving you the perfect opportunity to disconnect with the world and reconnect with your self and your travel partners.

When at Café Cherrapunjee Resort, remember to carry cash to make the payment (you will be making part payment via net transfer) as they do not have a network and can’t accept cards. You can always transfer the amount but the weak cell reception is a pain.

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Places Nearby: Dympep village is a ten-minute walk from the resort so you can visit some picturesque places here along with the Duwan Sing Syiem Bridge.

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Duwan Sing Syiem Bridge

After having checked out of Café Cherrapunjee, we did not think any other stay can make us this happy but found another beauty hidden amidst the meadows and mountains of Sohra – our second stay at Cherrapunjee – the Sa-I-Mika Park and Resort.

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Sa-I-Mika Park & Resort

A place designed to help you experience simplicity. This resort is much bigger in expanse and has a charm of its own. The various cottages here are all designed to replicate the simple Khasi lifestyle. Some cottages have hardwood flooring and stone walls while some other resemble the architectural style of the time when corrugated sheets were used to make houses. Fireplace, comfortable beds, khaats and muddas, and cleanliness mark the very spacious rooms here.

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The resort does not provide WiFi or televisions and yet we were not at a dearth of things to do. Explore the vast landscapes around, play with the dogs, go hiking or watch the stars under the clear beautiful sky – and we did all of these. And even ran inside our cottages at crazy speed when the rain started hammering down on us that evening! The next morning we headed to the common room for a simple but hearty breakfast and found out that many live gigs are hosted there. If only one was on when we were here…. but that just gives us an excuse to go back, right?

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Breakfast at Sa-I-Mika

Places Nearby: Mawsamai Caves, Seven Sisters Falls, Nohkalkai Falls, Mawlynlong Village and Living Root Bridges to name a few.

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The Orange Roots Cherrapunjee Resort is nearby and you can head here to enjoy a pocket-friendly and lip-smacking vegetarian meal prepared by the local Khasi women.
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Summer House Café [Todi Mill, Lower Parel]

The weekend aways makes us happy. But this time, it left us elated! Like any other day, we zeroed in on a location to satiate our growling tummies. We had heard the place we had selected – Summer House Café, is an amazing one, we just did not know the enormity of the amazingness and hence, were more than underprepared for what hit us once we landed here!

Summer House Café is a dreamy setup, a beautiful place! For us, it felt like another world! Just far away, another country, another landscape, ‘coz surely, something this amazing could not have been here all this time, right?

The white and blue facade with bamboo sticks forming a part of the wall reminded us of a shack in some beach country. Then we entered through the doors and were awestruck by the bustling area and it literally took us a few minutes to take everything in.

Looking around, we wondered, how the wooden beams and columns fit perfectly, how just the right amount of light enters through the glass windows and how beautiful it would be to stare at the sky in the evening.

The ambience makes everything look better. The area is very spacious and superbly lit during the daytime and transforms to a dim lit, fine dine come evening. That’s the upper level. The lower level is still the den of activity. It is a house to comedy shows, band performances, crazy retro dance nights, reading clubs and painting workshops to name few. When we were here, by the evening, a workshop on knife painting led to a colourful chatter here and then, just like in the movies, the entire scene changed to become host to a movie launch party. And we sat there, hogging and marvelling!

The menu here is a maze! There is so much variety that you are confused and yet the humble staff say that they know the variety is limited! Coming to the staff, the service is prompt and friendly and the Chef surely knows how to win you over, en route your stomach!

Here is what we hogged on at Summer House Café –

Yuzu Pineapple Smash – A refreshing combination of lime, yuzu (a citrus fruit giving the drink a slight tart) and basil. Thyme and fennel seeds added a mind-blowing aroma and flavour.

Blueberry Twist Smash – A tangy concoction of blueberry, lime and orange. Rosemary adds a very refreshing flavour. This one packs a sure punch!

Yuzu Pineapple Smash & Blueberry Twist Smash
Yuzu Pineapple Smash & Blueberry Twist Smash

Jalapeno Cheese Poppers – Crispy batter-fried poppers with mozzarella cheese and made spicy with lots of chilli flakes and jalapenos. These are better spelt as ‘perfection’! Pop these and see the cheese oozing out! But make sure you have the poppers before someone snatches them off the plate.

The Haystack Salad – Sprouts, bell peppers, tomatoes, black beans, cucumber, lettuce, corn and more! And topped or rather stacked with crispy tortilla chips. There is a slight hint of sweetness in the salad owing to the ingredients and we would have better liked it with a little bit of black pepper if not chilli to ease out the sweetness.

Nachos with Salsa and Sour Cream – Fresh, crispy tortilla chip loaded with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, jalapenos, black beans, and a tangy salsa sauce. The cheese sauce and sour cream are wonderful!

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Indian Vegetarian Platter, Veg Mezze Platter, Jalapeno Cheese Poppers

Indian Vegetarian Platter – The intense and spicy flavours of the dishes in the Indian vegetarian platter were mind-blowing. Spicy masalas that do justice to the preparations. There were three items in the platter – Char grilled paneer chunks with a smokey flavour and marinated in strong spices. Pineapple presented in a chatpata avatar that we definitely had not tried earlier. The masalas overshadowed the inherent sweetness of the fruit and left a delicious preparation on the sticks.

Soya Kebabs were the star of the show in this platter. Soft soya, marinated in a very spicy sauce, stuffed with veggies, paneer and nuts. This one was amazing! It was served with a yoghurt based dip and a non-spicy mint dip.

Veg Mezze Platter – Consisted of crispy and delicious falafels, feta samosas and crispy soft pita bread. Sticky rice balls were made with the thicker rice, slightly crisp on the outside and had a filling of veggies and a little bit of cheese. The dips are mind-blowing, especially the hummus. We did not really enjoy the feta samosas as they were a bit oily and a little bland for our taste.

Thai Veg Curry – Lots of exotic veggies in a superbly fragrant curry spiced with Thai herbs. It has a mildly spicy aftertaste. We loved the fact that it has just the adequate amount of creaminess and spices. Recommended!

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Thai Veg Curry

Sundried and Cherry Tomatoes, Bocconcini and Fresh Basil Pizza – Thin crusted pizza that is topped with bocconcini. The combination of bocconcini and the tomato based sauce were marvellous. Topped with sun-dried and cherry tomatoes and basil leaves, this pizza is a delight. We especially loved the crusty corners and the fresh aroma added by the basil.

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Sundried and Cherry Tomatoes, Bocconcini and Fresh Basil Pizza

Pesto Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Sandwich – Overloaded with cheese and pesto, this is a simple yet delightful sandwich in a crispy panini bread. The sandwich primarily has lots of tomatoes and a non-spicy pesto sauce.

Tiramisu – Tiramisu here is a must-have! Not only is it perfect, it also has a surprise for you! The creamy dessert is served in a glass along with rum soaked bread. We could not figure out why this bread tasted so good even after we had scavenged it through the deep ends of the glass. The chef then let us in on this secret. The strong essence and flavours that the rum bread and coffee add are mind-boggling!

Mega Brownie Sundae Mug – This should be called Mega Happiness Sundae Mug! Delicious, soft and crunchy brownie with lots and lots of vanilla ice cream that was threatening to melt! Made a hell lot messy and tasty by the chocolate sauce and finished with a cherry on top!

Carrot Cake With Whipped Cream – A soft spongy cake with intense cinnamon flavour, lots of nuts and whipped cream. We loved how gooey and soft it was.

The Ultimate Banoffee Pie – If we were not averse to bananas, this one would have been the dessert for us at Summer House Café. It is without a doubt on the sweeter side, but the toffee sauce makes you want to dig in for just another bite till you have licked the glass and the spoon and maybe even the plate! Heavenly!

Overall Experience:  First, the ambience blows you away and then you are washed over by the astonishingly delicious food and delicate flavours! We were looking at each other with baffled expression after every bite!  Highly recommended!

Summer House Café – Google Maps

Summer House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kasha Ki Aasha [White Town, Pondicherry]

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“I think I am in the wrong place!”

“Nope, definitely, this is someone’s home. We are in the wrong place!”

This is how the conversation will go when you first enter Kasha Ki Asha – that you have entered someone’s really well-kempt home and there is no way that a café exists here. Pass by those rooms with handicrafts and khadi kurtas and bags and you reach the centre of the home which again reinforces your belief that this is someone’s home and you are trespassing!

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With a small central verandah with lots of flowers, a metallic statue of the dancing God and a few females going about their business, it has got to be a home, no?

Well, it is, but it is a home converted to an art gallery and also houses a café upstairs.

Breathing a sigh of relief that we have to be hungry no longer, we climbed up the narrow staircase to come face to face with the rooftop café and then… and then we smiled!

 

Kasha Ki Aasha is a dream we all had but never got. A terrace with cane furniture to laze on, lots of plants to keep it cool…. a space where we could relax and spend all our days and evenings and maybe even nights! Away from the chaos and cacophony, one can chill and be at peace at this café for as long as they want. And delicious homecooked food doesn’t hurt either!

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We spent hours here, hogging and just sitting, doing nothing, at some points not even talking…just being quiet! That is the type of place Kasha Ki Aasha is. And if you love such places, you will love this one!

The women who run the café come upstairs from time to time to ask for any order or you can go to the stairs and holler for someone but apart from that, they let you be. No one keeps poking asking if you want anything more, something we Mumbaikars, or for that matter, metro-dwellers are not used to!

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Coming to the food, they have a small menu and also serve some specials apart from the menu. The quantity is decent and one cannot help feel that the prices are a little high. That kept aside, the food is delicious! Their European and Thai thalis are hot selling and pretty famous! They also serve beer and wine. We stuck to mostly Indian options or Indian with a twist. Here’s what we tried and loved:

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Traditional Indian Breakfast – Soft steamed idlis with a bowl of sambhar and a groundnut and coconut based chutney.  The sambhar is non-spicy but had the perfect maa-ke-hath ka taste! The quantity of sambhar is a little less and you may have to ask for another bowl. The chutney is delicious too, with no hint of spiciness.

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Chappati & Dal Fry – Two large and soft chappatis with slightly crispy centres and a small bowl of dal. Dal again was non-spicy but yummy with lots of onions and ginger. This preparation is again served with the chutney.

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Chappati & Dal Fry

Pizza Dosai – Before we tell you what it is, we will tell you that it is delicious!! Two plain uttapams with lots of veggies on top – chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and more. This is then finished with lots of cheese! It tastes very slightly sweet owing to the tomato based sauce used to mix the veggies and the batter but the combination overall is amazing and something different!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney – Crispy and thin onion dosas. These were again bang-on yummy and can be had even without that chutney!

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Onion Dosai with Chutney

Black Bean Burger – The black bean burger has two black bean based cutlets with a slightly charred and smokey flavour, topped with tomatoes, capsicum and onions. It is served with a cold macaroni salad that is spiced with black pepper and is delicious. Each of these can be had separately and the combination is lip-smacking.

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The café is open only until 7 p.m. which is really sad considering the ambience is perfect for spending your evenings!!

All in all, Kasha Ki Aasha is an amazing place with good food and should find its way to your list of places to visit in Pondicherry!

Kasha Ki Aasha [Pondicherry] – Google Maps

Kasha Ki Aasha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MasalaBar [ Carter Road, Bandra]

Food Is Music To Body And Music Is Food To Heart – Gregory Roberts

And we revelled in this music at Masala Bar. An evening full of surprises, to the taste buds and to the soul.

Masala Bar is another feather in the cap of the infamous Kalra duo. Located above CCD at Carter Road, it provides an unrestricted view of the shore, the busy Carter road and of course the sunset!

The decor is minimal yet luxe and classy. The seating is spread over a mid-sized area with a very prominent and uniquely done up bar counter that you notice as you step in. Black and brown, silver and ivory are the colours that decorate this restaurant. The main items of decor are mirrors and candles, in hexagonal arrangements and enclosures to render an amazing space.

MasalaBar opens at 5 pm and their timing could not have been better considering the theme and location. The entire restaurant is sun-kissed at this hour.

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Come evening, it transforms so beautifully into an oasis of light! It is dreamy once the entire place is lit up by candles. Just B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. It is one of the places that pull off candles and minimal lights with elan. The warmth that the place breathes due to this lighting will never let you want to leave voluntarily! We were mesmerised!

MasalaBar is one of the places that pull off candles and minimal lights with elan. The warmth that the place breathes due to this lighting will never let you want to leave voluntarily! We were mesmerised!

 

MasalaBar has recently revamped their entire menu, adding new classy dishes while keeping a few old favourites as well. Change is the only Constant philosophy at work! But are we loving the change? The answer is an astounding Yes!

And here is whay we said ‘Yes’….

Mocktails

Heaven On Earth – A refreshing and tangy combination of Watermelon, Cranberry and Passion Fruit! First, the fruity fragrance hits you and then basil adds freshness to it.

Berry Cooler – An amazing blend of Strawberries, Cranberries and Wild Berries and topped up with soda.

Mulled Masala Punch – A mildly sweet and unique mix of masala tea reduction and orange juice. Tea dominates the flavours in this drink. It was really refreshing, which is a surprise considering the combination is so different!

Sea Side – If you are a fan of coconut milk in your mocktails, this one is for you. Orange juice, grapefruit and coconut cream, this one is very much on the lines of a pina colada.

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Salad

Figs and Honey, Carpaccio of Watermelon and Feta Salad – Arugula with a balsamic dressing forms the bed of the salad. Cherry tomatoes, figs and thinly sliced watermelon (carpaccio) along with Feta Cheese are added. The feta was fresh and soft and delicious. Cherry tomatoes complemented the sweetness of figs well. Watermelon adds freshness to the entire combination. Loved it!

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Figs and Honey, Carpaccio of Watermelon and Feta Salad

Appetizers

Baked Potatoes, Sweet and Spicy Beetroot and Apple, Sweet Fennel Yogurt – Potato skins stuffed with a mixture of beetroot and green apple, topped with cheese and baked. The stuffing is non-spicy and very mildly sweet owing to the beetroots. It has a very strong smokey flavour and fragrance. Dressed with sweet fennel yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. We loved biting into these. Burnt cheese on top does wonders to the filling inside and the combination of potato and cheese is surprisingly good!

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Carbon Bhaji, Carbon Pav – A black twist to the regular pav bhaji. Carbon Pav Bhaji is prepared by adding edible charcoal to the bhaji as well as to the buns/pav. The bhaji is non-spicy but has very strong presence of garam masala giving it a lip-smacking aftertaste. Very finely mashed potatoes, onions, cilantro, fennel seeds (saunf), tomatoes and lots of garlic and garnished with baby carrots. The bhaji also has very earthy flavour. Pav is fresh and almost of the colour of soot. It well complements the bhaji.

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Carbon Bhaji, Carbon Pav

Main Course

Asparagus & Bok Choy Biryani, Black Sesame Curd – The biryani is so fragrant that we almost did not wait to click the picture! Asparagus and fried onions did wonders together and left our mouths watering! Biryani is non-spicy and flavourful. There was definitely no need of any accompaniment with the biryani but a spoonful of black sesame curd does not it (on the sweeter side).

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Asparagus & Bok Choy Biryani, Black Sesame Curd

Desserts

Mango Cardamom Cheese Cake, Banana and Butterscotch Waffle – Now this is what we call ending on a high note! Cardamom base with mango cheesecake. The waffle was crisp and had the perfect butterscotch flavour without being too sweet. Elaichi banana drizzled in caramel added a twist. Strawberry sauce and mango pulp garnish made this a mind-boggling combination! Smooth and creamy, the cheesecake melted in the mouth.  No wonder we were on a sugar high post-gorging on this!

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Mango Cardamom Cheese Cake, Banana and Butterscotch Waffle

 

Overall Experience – MasalaBar was a one of a kind experience with delicious food, warm hospitality and beautiful ambience.

 

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P.S.: Go here at least a little before the sun sets, the view and ambience are amazing and you get to see how the place transforms!

Someone said – The only way to see the Sunset, is to ride into it! But after experiencing MasalaBar, we can safely say – One of the best ways to see the Sunset, is to dine alongside it!  😍

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MasalaBar – Google Maps

MasalaBar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar & Bakery [Gangaur Ghat, Chandpole, Udaipur]

What happens when you visit a new city and meet locals, be it relatives or friends?

They tell you all about the places you should check out. All this advice is definitely worth heeding to (mostly).

But what when each one tells you  ‘You have to visit Xyz, the view is amazing’ or ‘Have you been to Xyz yet? If not, let me take you, you will thank me later’ and you proudly nod and say, Oh we checked out Xyz yesterday, and we know what you are raving about!’

The Xyz in this context is Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery and obviously, we are the epic people who checked it out!

Jheel’s Ginger CBB is a guest house that also houses a café and bakery and is located at Gangaur Ghat with a magnificent view of Lake Pichola. The café is spread over two floors of the guest house – the ground floor and the open terrace.
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One can see the entire area lit up, from the bridge to the other hotels and buildings.

February being comparatively cool in Udaipur, the cool breeze made us shiver, but the feeling is totally worth it!

The menu is quite well spread, but we were not here for the food, so we stuck to coffee and a sandwich.

Jheel’s Giner CBB is pretty famous for the breakfast range it has on offer, so that is something one can check out

 

Getting here is a bit tricky since the Cabs do not come beyond Jagdish Temple. One can take a tuk-tuk or an autorickshaw to the nearest point (being the Mata Temple bridge) or can just walk the distance (which is not much) and enjoy the colourful handicrafts and artefacts on the way.

Jheel’s Ginger Coffe Bar is one café you must visit on your trip to Udaipur, not only for the view but also for their decent grub.

Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar & Bakery – Google Maps

Jheel's Ginger Coffee Bar & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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