Restaurant Review: Plenty, Fort
The menu at Plenty is not the kind to stoke the appetite. It’s a simulacrum of the average multi-cuisine, comfort food-serving café in the city. Avocado toast? Check. Meals in a bowl? They’re on the list. Pasta and flatbreads? Need you ask? But if you’ve eaten at Food For Thought, the vegetarian café inside the bookstore Kitab Khana a short walk away, you will feel encouraged to step inside. Plenty is helmed by Kapil and Reshma Sanghi, who run Food For Thought where the food is simple and delicious in a homely way. Similarly the grub at Plenty, which their daughter Karishma helms, has the quality of stuff made by the hands of the aunt in the family famous for her cooking chops. There’s little grease, judicious amounts of spice and the desserts could win prizes at a bake-off.
Plenty offers several one-bowl meals, presumably because it’s in the business district of Fort where at lunch time, office-goers seek out filling fare. From the selection of hot bowls, we tried the Penang curry bowl with rice (Rs400) and the chicken ramen (Rs550). The Penang curry here is a milder version of the real thing as it lacks shrimp paste. Yet the combination of thick, lightly spiced curry with peanuts served with pieces of tofu, veggies and brown rice is a hearty meal for vegetarians. The ramen doesn’t have the intensely umami flavour of Japanese ramen but the chicken broth is flavourful and given a touch of umami by shiitake mushrooms. The house-made noodles have the thickness of soba and the slight chewy quality that makes fat noodles so pleasurable to eat. The dish is topped with pak choi, roasted chicken, shiitake mushroom and perfectly soft-boiled, soy-infused eggs that would’ve tasted even better had they been allowed to wallow in their soy bath for a little longer.
The pulled pork sandwich (Rs450), in which smoky, shredded pork, mayo and slaw are stuffed between slices of grainy bread, is a satisfactory wallop of meat. No less flavourful, surprisingly, is the smoked tofu, quinoa and black bean burger (Rs450). Now it sounds like the sort of bloodless item that would get only vegans salivating, but it’s actually quite good. The meatiness of tofu, pastiness of black bean and nutty quality of quinoa make the patty encased in a soft burger bun a delightful play of textures.
It’s best to save sufficient space for dessert, which we expected to be first-rate having tried the sweets at Food For Thought. The spiced banana cake with crème anglaise (Rs250) was moist and rich with the velvety sweetness of ripe banana. The orange semolina cake (Rs300) had the delicious grainy texture of semolina and combination of sweet and tart citrus flavours. Our only complaint was that it had been doused in cloying orange syrup.
On the whole, Plenty succeeds in what it sets out to do: provide nourishing food in a welcoming atmosphere. Indeed the experience of dining at the restaurant, a cosy, split-level joint, is like eating in a living room. The furniture is wood, the walls are part white-washed and part exposed brick, the cushions have Ikat covers and there are shelves topped with homey objects such as books, plants and tchotchkes like metal tiffin boxes. The Sanghis are often around, compounding the feeling of being a guest at a home.
Get: Chicken ramen (Rs550); pulled pork sandwich (Rs450); smoked tofu, quinoa, black bean burger (Rs450); spiced banana cake with creme anglaise (Rs250).
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. They do not levy a service charge.
Plenty Cafe, 3B, Raja Bahadur Mansion, opposite State Bank of India, 24A Mumbai Samachar Marg, Fort. Tel: 022 2262 2020. Open daily, from 10am to 10pm. Get directions here.