Restaurant Review: Craving Salad, Bandra

Bandra’s 33rd Road was once the domain of North Indian joints such as Mini Punjab, Khane-Khas and Pal’s Fish Corner that did brisk business selling tikkas, kebab rolls and curries. These eateries have endured but are now outnumbered by salad joints such as Sequel, Bombay Salad Co., Poetry by Love and Cheesecake, a cafe that has an extensive salad menu, and the fortnight-old Craving Salad.

It’s an immediate neighbour to Sequel. But in terms of its menu, pricing and positioning, Craving Salad is inspired by Bombay Salad Co., which is located a few minutes away. Salads here are affordable and the produce utilised is largely local, which are also Bombay Salad Co.’s USPs. If it hopes to be as popular, then Craving Salad will have to fix a few kinks.

The service for instance needs pulling up. At lunch this week, the restaurant was understaffed, with a single server managing the front office, the till and helping in the kitchen. We got the sense that the two-member kitchen team was dependent on our server for help in assembling their bowls. This delayed the food. There was a ten-minute gap between each salad when putting together a bowl should be fairly quick.

The decor doesn’t offer much by way of distraction while you wait for the kitchen to get its act together. With its stark white paint, white furniture and boring white melamine crockery, Craving Salad looks more like a clinic than a cafe. Luckily, their leafy bowls leave little room for complaint. Compared to Bombay Salad Co.’s indulgent and elaborate combinations that are heftily portioned, rich in dressing and zealously garnished with cheese, nuts and seeds, Craving Salad’s preparations are relatively austere albeit flavourful.

Unlike Bombay Salad Co., which offers small and large portions, at Craving Salad, one size is meant to fit all appetites. Their regular bowl is the size of Bombay Salad Co.’s half portion, that is, it’s sufficiently filling. Barring one tuna salad, the non-veg options are restricted to chicken. The base ingredients across the majority of their recipes are lettuce, red onion, corn and tomatoes. They’ve provided a calorie count against each salad and the BBQ chicken (Rs275) clocks on the higher side at 400 probably because the crunchy and colourful heap made up of well-cooked BBQ-flavoured chicken chunks, a mere sprinkle of cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, American corn and addictive nachni chips, is drenched in sweet ranch and BBQ dressing.

The taco salad (Rs295) with grilled chicken, black beans, tart and sweet langra mango, tomatoes, corn, lettuce and avocado dressed with a light lime vinaigrette, is just as cheerful, homely and tasty. It was the only salad in which they didn’t skimp on the cheddar. The arugula chicken salad (Rs365) tasted the most healthful out of our picks of three non-veg dishes. The earthy, fibre-rich bowl was piled with arugula, chicken cooked in olive oil, red cabbage, carrot and sunflower seeds. It had the right amount of acidity.

The star of the wholesome whole foods quinoa salad (Rs250) was the juicy, lemon yellow langra mango, which is woefully underutilised thanks to our blinkered obsession with the Alphonso variety. The diced mango was tossed with kale, red bell pepper, red onion, cranberries and quinoa and finished with balsamic vinaigrette, making this the sweetest of our salads. The double-sided, one page menu also lists smoothies, some of which are vegan (in the case of Craving Salad, they’re essentially fruit and vegetable juices). The detox island green (Rs195), a blend of spinach, banana and mango, was surprisingly bland and monotonous. The orange ginger glow (Rs225), which includes mango and strawberry, was both spicy and sweet and a more palatable alternative.

Get: BBQ chicken salad (Rs275); taco salad (Rs295).

Skip: Detox island green (Rs195).

It is our policy to wait at least a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.

Prices exclude taxes; there is a service charge of five per cent.

Craving Salad, Ground Floor, Solace building, next to Sequel, 33rd Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 93238 73628. Open daily, from 11.30am to 10.30pm. Get directions here

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