From fresh and zesty salads to yummy sandwiches, the menu at the Banyan Tree cafe will make you fall in love with eating clean.
An old ice factory turned architectural marvel, IF.BE is a space with a lot to offer in terms of culture and community. One of the gems beings Banyan Tree café, of course.
I’ve always had something of a soft spot for the bewitching Ballard Estate in Mumbai. Walking towards the cafe from CST, it’s amazing how a place can make you fall in love with it every single time.
As soon as you enter IF.BE, your eyes won’t miss the majestic banyan tree right outside the café. As my eyes trailed the glass wall, I spotted the café behind it. The optimum volume of the music and cosy, rustic interiors register as soon as I enter, so I know the spot is perfect for a good conversation. The cafe espouses clean eating as well as sourcing of ingredients. All of their ingredients are grown at the banyan tree garden and at a local farm in Karjat. They also source from Gujrat, Himachal, and Coorg.
Scanning the menu, the expansive range of diverse options is immediately apparent. There’s everything from vegan, vegetarian, keto-friendly, and gluten-free, all the way to non-vegetarian options. So no matter what your individualistic approach to eating healthy is, there’s something for you here.
I decided to start with salads. The staff suggested a chef’s special salad named Good Vibes, which arrived pretty quick. I twirled the bowl in front of me slowly, getting to know everything inside before digging in. This particular bowl came filled with fresh slices of orange, avocado, two types of lettuce, and arugula with a lemon vinaigrette dressing topped with dried cranberries in a bowl. In keeping with my salad ritual, I made sure to have a bit of everything on my first bite, which was followed by a flavour explosion.
On speaking with Chef Tawde about the process of curating the menu, he says, “I was quite skeptical about putting Good vibes on the menu but to my surprise, it turned out to be a crowd-pleaser.”
Next, we decided to order some smoothies. My companion ordered the Strawberry Skies while I opted for the Green Junkie. (I was initially hoping to sample Opposites Attract, a milkshake with chickoo, salted caramel, and almond milk that unfortunately wasn’t available.) The Green Junkie was well-balanced, with sweet mango pulp, tangy kiwi, fresh basil blended with baby spinach, and a splash of lemon juice. The Strawberry Skies was, as millennials say, thicc af. Roasted almonds, rice crisps, mint, and strawberries all blended with Greek yoghurt, needless to say, it was a berry good and yummy drink.
We then moved on to the sandwiches and settled on splitting the Madras mail. The focaccia was well seasoned, layered generously with madras curry mayo and soft cottage cheese. It’s amazing how three simple ingredients and no fuss made for a delightful plate.
Clean eating can be all the rage, but that doesn’t mean one skimps on the desserts. We chose the apple pie, for the chef’s special baked cheesecake wasn’t available. I also ordered a coffee and almond milk latte. As soon as the apple pie arrived, I was immediately hit with the smell of cinnamon-dusted apples, sugar, and spices.
I took a bite, and it practically melted in my mouth. The crust was the right combination of soft and crumbly, and the filling was sweet with a hint of salty and spicy. It was as good as a classic apple pie can get.
Finally, my coffee arrived at the table, a steaming cup of almond milk latte. The nuttiness of almonds and the sharp bitter taste of coffee are perfect against the silky smooth steamed milk.
In addition to the near-perfect meal, I greatly appreciated the knowledgeable staff that politely answered all my questions throughout the evening. Mumbaikars, if you’re looking for a healthy, clean, and pocket-friendly meal, the Banyan Tree Cafe is an easy suggestion.
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
One dish we loved: Good vibes