Restaurant Review: I Think Fitness Cafe, Bandra

I Think Fitness Cafe in Bandra is the perfect place to play a game of spot the similarities. The ten-day-old establishment has blatantly shopped for food and design inspiration from restaurants within a two-kilometre radius. The al fresco section has a vertical garden that looks identical to those at La Folie Lab and Su Casa. Indoors, they’ve recreated the old world appeal of Pali Village Cafe and Pali Bhavan, by installing dim lights and vintage clocks and giving the walls a distressed finish. Like Kitchen Garden, the cafe is self-service and the menu a mix of smoothies, salads and one pot meals that are common to the many salad bars and health-oriented joints in the suburb.

Gym chain I Think Fitness, which has outposts in Bandra and Girgaum Chowpatty, is owned by restaurateur Suren Joshi, who runs Su Casa and is a partner at Pali Village Cafe and Pali Bhavan. It makes perfect business sense to run a cafe as an extension of the fitness centres. The Bandra branch houses a cafe for members, and the crowd from Gold’s, another popular Bandra gym down the road, typically flocks to Kitchen Garden, which is located right across from it.

However, there’s nothing so distinct about I Think Fitness’s stand-alone cafe to earn such loyalty. There’s good intent behind the menu. Food writer and consultant Moina Oberoi, who sells the Mo’s Kefir brand of kefir milk, and chef Gracian D’Souza, a former employee with Impressario Hospitality, have adhered to the brief of creating clean, protein-rich plates. Healthful though the fare is, a lot of the dishes are under-seasoned and there’s a lack of harmony between the multiple components.

The cauliflower, hazelnut and chicken salad (Rs300) was overwhelmed by the smoked Gouda dressing. The cheese eclipsed the flavours of ghee and roasted hazelnut. The Habibi (Rs450), a veggie main in a bowl, had perfectly crisped but bland quinoa falafels, roasted chickpeas, beet hummus and a cous cous salad with tahini sauce. The spiced chickpeas that were roasted until crunchy and the chunky beetroot hummus were the only adequately seasoned elements of the pretty but flavourless mezze.

The Immuno (Rs450) was another attractively plated combination of beet-flavoured millets, crisp kale salad and grilled garlic-scented Portobello mushrooms paired with a coconut moringa sauce. Sadly it was all looks and no flavour. The unusual-sounding sauce was too mild and tasted neither of coconut nor moringa. There was a disproportionate amount of sauce to millets, rendering the dish dry. In some of the plates, the parts were better than the whole. The thick-grained Sriracha-flavoured rice was the highlight of the spicy tenderloin (Rs450) made up of tenderloin medallions and a fried egg. The meat was flawlessly medium rare, but flavourless. The egg had neither salt nor pepper.

The cafe should consider increasing the portion of the sweet chilli shrimp roll (Rs300), which was all that was promised, sweet, moderately pungent and healthful. Light and summer appropriate, the rice paper wrap was stuffed with two sweet and succulent jumbo prawns. Like Kitchen Garden, I Think Fitness Cafe too has a well-stocked takeaway counter piled with trendy beverages such as kombucha and kefir and sugar- and gluten-free cakes, protein cookies and parfaits. The dessert selection is worth lingering over. The smooth, luscious, fudge-like chocolate and cashew parfait (Rs250), sweetened with date, was the only truly memorable item in an otherwise forgettable meal.

Get: Sweet chilli shrimp roll (Rs300), chocolate and cashew parfait (Rs250).

Skip: Habibi (Rs450), Immuno (Rs450).

This review was conducted anonymously. 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 ten per cent.

I Think Fitness Cafe, Carlton Court, Manuel Gonsalves Road, junction of Perry Road and Pali Road, near Cafe Coffee Day, Bandra (West). Tel: 97696 09602. Open daily, from 8am to 11.30pm. Get directions here.

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