Restaurant Review: Sequel, Bandra

SequelMainIf Sequel, Bandra’s new all-day cafe, were to release a book, it would very likely be called Greens, Grains and A Farewell to Gluten. The week-old joint has replaced a branch of Tart, a gluten-rich patisserie. At Sequel, which is 100 per cent wheat-free, gluten is conspicuous by its absence. During a dinner visit to the snug cafe, at which the closely-packed eight tables are each within eavesdropping distance, we overheard some patrons indulge in vocal gluten bashing. The women seemed thrilled that practically every ingredient on the menu is prefixed by the word ‘organic’.

Owner Vanika Choudhary fueled their excitement further by casually dropping the names of the places of origin of a lot of their produce. Choudhary, a former media professional who practices yoga, quit gluten a couple of years ago. For her global menu, the stone-ground chocolate for the desserts comes from Mexico; the organic white and black quinoa, acai berries and cacao from Peru; walnuts from Kashmir and so on. While the dishes rely heavily on imported ingredients, the cafe’s design is rooted in the local. Sequel is a tastefully minimalist combination of wood and Ikat upholstery in muted shades of grey, white and blue.

All the colours left out of the decor can be found in the food. Every plate is an attractive medley of grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Salad junkies will be pleased with the ten-item selection, the relatively high prices of which range from Rs325 to Rs800. Sequel’s salads are quite different from those of its neighbour Bombay Salad Co. Here, they use minimal dressing and cheese, but the results are still scrumptious. The Red Pirate (Rs475) salad and the carrot and orange soup of the day (Rs350) were both a riot of colour. The Red Pirate was an amalgam of quinoa, kale, roasted baby beets, roasted baby carrots, roasted chickpeas, red apples, prunes, Kashmiri walnuts and chevre, all splashed with a red wine vinaigrette. It was a tart, textured and health-affirming toss-up. The orange and carrot soup had more of the fruit’s flavour than of the veg, which contributed textural heft and hue to the comfortingly warm preparation.

The Big Heist (Rs425) is among the three non-vegetarian dishes at Sequel; the other two are seafood salads. An open-faced sandwich of sorts, it comprises roasted veggies, poached egg semi-cloaked in a healthy Hollandaise (made with mustard and organic yoghurt instead of butter) and oat flour and buckwheat bread. The single slice of bread, which holds up the ingredients, was too dense but we savoured the rustic and sunny combo of runny egg, tangy Hollandaise and roasted veg. The Rustic Garden (Rs425), made up of Himalayan black rice, quinoa, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato, sun-dried tomato pesto and kale, was a perfect example of the earthy, umami flavour profile that pervades a lot of Sequel’s dishes owing to their heavy inclusion of grains and black rice.

Their desserts are enriched with South American berries and cacao and purged of refined sugar. However the provenance of the cacao was less relevant to us than the percentage of chocolate. Much to our delight, Sequel uses 70 per cent dark organic chocolate across its confections. The Indulgence (Rs290) was appealingly unsweetened. To offset the bitterness of the chocolate, the dense cake had a sour raspberry lodged in the centre of the slice. We tasted coconut oil in the day’s special acai berry cake (Rs350), a crumbling slice with a hint of sweetness, studded with a number of the purple, antioxidant-rich berries. The Chocolate Lust (Rs195), listed as a vegan soy dessert, is actually an almond butter and chocolate chip cookie. Despite the somewhat unflattering description ascribed to the cookie, it’s our pick of the sweets because it actually feels like a cheat item on a menu that reads like a hipster’s harvest.

Get: Red Pirate (Rs475); carrot and orange soup (Rs350); Chocolate Lust (Rs195).

Prices include taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.

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

Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar, Ground Floor, Solace, opposite Eddie’s Bistro, 33rd Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 75064 77710. Open daily, from 9.30am to 11pm. Get directions here.

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