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Published on: April 2, 2023, 2:46 p.m.
Lake View Cafe: A time to be happy
  • The Lake View Cafe at The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake has become a favourite place for many

By Swapna Vora

After a good meal one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.

-Oscar Wilde

The Lake View Cafe at The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake has, over the years, become a favourite place for many. It is far removed from Mumbai’s noise, with its continuous cries and stage whispers. Peace reigns, a serene expanse of water laps nearby and across the lake you see hazy buildings and blue skies. There are large pools and green spots within the hotel premises too, relaxing to the eye on a hot, dry day.

Recently we ate their weekday buffet: there was everything anyone could think of and lots more. Chef Mukesh Sharma had prepared wonderful food, excellent in variety and quality including dals, noodles and hot breads to Chinese vegetables and good salads and dressings. Followed by far too many desserts…

The long ride there makes you hungry as visions of fresh salads and noodles dance in your head. Coming from Colaba, we thought of the new things Chef Mukesh might have conjured. A superb cook who treats food lovingly, like a parent caring for a child, he made fresh pizza with great crusts: crisp on the bottom and covered with melted cheese. As some truthful person admitted: “The key to my heart looks a whole lot like a slice of good pizza.”

This was followed by an array of mezze: hummus, beetroot in yogurt, labneh with sumac flakes, walnut and red pepper muhammara and other Arabic delights. Like all simple foods, hummus is hard to make well: the right graininess, topped with sliced olives, a touch of harissa and a small puddle of tacky green olive oil. Hope they soon make dolmas, pickled labneh and the dainty, rose-flavoured mahalabia, (usually made to welcome a new baby), giving us more reasons to go back. 

The food is excellent: fresh Indian dals, biryanis, vegetables, plenty of Chinese greens and continental entrees and Japanese soba noodles cooked with bits of green onion stems and a few mushrooms: delightfully yang and healthy. Always amusing to see someone eat some sophisticated dish and then at the last minute, just before leaving, sigh and turn back to get … one sev or pani puri!  We love what we love! Our Bengali food expert claimed the prawns were the best ever. Now that is high praise from a Bong, especially for fish served outside hallowed Bengal.

  • Chef Mukesh Sharma prepares wonderful food at the Lake View Cafe

The dessert menu is a child’s delight. Remember, love means never having to ask anxiously: “Is there any dessert?” At the dessert table, a woman said she wrote ‘Chocolate’, on her dating status. ‘Reply if you don’t mind being second best.’ We overheard the reply, ‘Can’t trust him. Doesn't like chocolate….’  There was fresh hot moong dal halwa and profiteroles stuffed with pistachio mousse: at which lovely sight, we could, alas, only sigh. There were tarts with fresh blueberries. As lovers of fresh blueberries, we were thrilled to learn that some are now grown in India, in our Maharashtra, with a view to taking this healthy fruit to many and to export it to the Middle East.

By the way, kiwis are originally from North East India and were taken to New Zealand, presumably by the British. Since they grow inside our border as well as in China, China too gets to claim them. Currently all berries are in great demand for their antioxidants but, alas, it is difficult to get the small, really tasty strawberries we ate decades ago. The yellow Cape berries, (called ‘gooseberries’ here), are still excellent.

Hope no biologist or botanist tampers with them as has happened to tomatoes which are now hard, tasteless and last over …a week! Mangoes, guavas and rice varieties too need our serious protection: the taste is being destroyed in the name of appearance, size, lasting qualities…. Watermelons, now cultivated to be smaller and seedless, are, alas, less tasty. Woe is me! Who minds size, seeds, weeds, etc as long as they taste divine?

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