Sun setting over the beautiful ocean, golden rays bouncing off gleaming waters, waves crashing on the beach providing a background score, happy chatter enveloping you. It’s easy to see why the city’s cacophony is but a distant memory at Alibaug – plus you don’t have to travel too far to get here. While local cuisine is always a hot favourite, a few Mumbai restaurants have trickled in, bringing with them trendy spaces and gastronomic experiences that are slowly changing the culinary landscape in this sleepy hamlet.
Don’t waste any time upon arriving at Mandwa Jetty; plonk down at the waterfront Boardwalk by Flamboyante even before you get to the parking lot (see Where to Eat for all details).
Run by the team behind Flamboyante in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade, this open-air, Mediterranean- style restaurant does a great watermelon and creamy feta salad and cheesy potato wedges, with a side of sweeping views of ferry-dotted waters. Don’t miss the Pomfret Peri Peri and the Grilled Fish in lemon butter garlic with capers, both of which are cooked to mouthwatering perfection. A few feet from Boardwalk, the cheerful Kiki’s Café & Deli is the brainchild of Mumbaibased hotelier and caterer Nitin Mongia. Imagine stepping off the ferry for a hearty breakfast of Truffle Oil Scrambled Eggs, a gigantic Brownie Freakshake and gooey Salted Carmel Tart.
But the eclectic café is known for more than its breakfast offerings – try the Spaghetti Aglio Olio with chicken. For a relaxed, hippie vibe, head to Bohemyan Blue Garden Café, where you can spend the afternoon at a shaded café next to a vegetable garden, which produces some of the eatery’s ingredients.
The Guava Juice with Sprite and Mint Lemonade are refreshing accompaniments to its tasty – albeit not authentic – Konkani-style charcoal-grilled chicken or the Prawn Thai Curry, served with rice and a yummy raw papaya salad. If you like a more hands-on approach to your food, Colaba’s The Table has just the thing – informative workshops at owners Jay Yousuf and Gauri Devidayal’s home in Saswane, which has a small-scale working farm that supplies fresh produce to the restaurant. Adrienne Thadani of Fresh & Local, who is an expert in urban and organic farming, takes you around the farm. Before you know it, you’re wrist-deep in dirt, helping make permaculture beds, transplanting saplings and harvesting micro-greens.
All the hard work pays off handsomely when you sit down to a large spread, prepared by the chefs – juicy pieces of barbecued chicken and eggplant hot off the grill, freshly-picked salads and creamy pastas with delicious wines, followed by an excellent apple crumble pie. While the menu changes with each workshop, you can always expect great food and fresh ingredients. If all this sounds too tedious, round up some friends, rent a bungalow and let the food come to you.
Café Zoe’s Kitchen offers weekend delivery of its signature dishes right to your doorstep. Try the half-kilo quiches – the Leeks and Ham one is delicious and can feed a small village , or the Spaghetti in Truffle Butter Sauce and Smoked Salmon Mousse dip with Melba crisps.
Now all you have to do is sit back and revel in the food coma.
GREAT FROM: Mumbai, Pune
GREAT FOR: Delicious food in seaside settings
WHERE TO STAY
Countryside Farm: Located about 2km from Mandwa Jetty, and with a choice of 10 decent stay options, including rooms, a cottage and tents, Countryside Farm makes for a relaxed stay. Bohemyan Blue Stay: The spacious tents, interspersed with quaint lotus ponds, gardens and a tented dining/common area, are ideal for a laidback, romantic escape. Service might be a little slow but it makes up with good food and great surroundings.
Ccaza Ccomodore: This is a great pick when you’re travelling with a bunch of friends. The villa sits amid a manicured lawn in which chairs, tables and hammocks are set up. The villa comes with cosy rooms and a pool.
WHERE TO EAT
Boardwalk by Flamboyante: 00-91-9920569772, 00-91-2141-237787; www.flamboyante.in; Mandwa Jetty; 11am – 9pm; reservations are mandatory.
Kiki’s Café & Deli: 00-91-9820132158, 00-91-8308802678; near Mandwa Jetty; 8am – 9.30pm
Bohemyan Blue Garden Café: 00-919823481829; www.bohemyanblue.com; Plot No 1, Agarsure, Alibaug-Rewas Main Rd, opp Fountain Head, Zirad; 11am – 7pm.
Café Zoe’s Kitchen: 00-91-9833490490; Alibaug-Rewas Main Rd; only on weekends; 9am – 9pm (for placing orders), delivery between 11.30am and 10.30pm.
The area is quite safe though it is better for women to travel in groups. Most beaches don’t have lifeguard facilities, be careful while taking a dip in the ocean.
Primary Health Centre can handle minor ailments (00-91-2141-237831, 00-91-9833955370 [Dr Abhijeet Ghase]; Dhokawade; 9am – 6pm daily except for public holidays, call for emergencies). It’s best to head back to Mumbai for serious medical issues.
GOOD TO KNOW
*Kiki’s Café & Deli opens at 8am, but don’t expect service for the next 30 to 45 minutes.
*Rickshaws are easy to find at Mandwa Jetty till 9pm. If you don’t have your own vehicle, make sure to take down contact details of a few rickshaw drivers beforehand, or fix a time for pick-up.
*Café Zoe’s Kitchen also delivers marinated, uncooked meats for barbecues and whole roasts with sides which needs a five-hour notice.