Restaurant Review: Tea Villa Cafe, Bandra West

Tea VillaAfter visiting the various tea cafes that have recently floated on to the city’s culinary surface like errant tea leaves, one has to wonder whether they’re all signatories to a secret covenant enjoining them to serve mediocre food. For if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s underwhelming grub. This is particularly upsetting because tea occupies an important position in one’s day. A good cuppa is restorative, capable of bringing about equanimity, and a sense of stillness within chaos. This effect, so dearly craved, is ruined if the accompaniments are subpar. Like Chaayos, Tea Trails and Taj Mahal Tea House, Bandra’s new Tea Villa Cafe plates up dishes that yo-yo between passable and terrible. Tea Villa is doubly disappointing as unlike Tea Trails and Taj Mahal Tea House, it gets its raison d’etre wrong.

This is the second outpost of the vegetarian café, which first opened in Vile Parle in 2014. The hefty menu of teas includes a number of Indian, Chinese and Japanese varieties. We picked three chais to test their skills. The lemongrass tea (Rs75) and masala chai (Rs75) suffered from a surfeit of milk but the Villa Special (Rs90), a blend made with ginger and lemongrass, was decently brewed.

The food menu is equally bulky, packed with far too many options from sandwiches, burgers and pizzas to Lebanese, Mexican and Thai items. The mushroom shawarma (Rs195) was a let-down. There was barely any mushroom in the spicy mush of veggies slathered with a mayo-like sauce and encased within the rubbery wrap. The crust of the 4 Cheese Pizza (Rs130 for two slices), a mix of mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and paneer, was too chewy, and the toppings reminded us of all the pizza we’ve eaten in Gujarati homes. Similarly the quesadilla (Rs195), a combination of rajma, corn and tomato, had a home-made quality. It was tasty but didn’t compare to the Indo-Mexican versions doled out by the Shiv Sagar and Cream Centre chains. The special fries (Rs195), a basket of potato straws and wedges, were insipid. For dessert, we got the banana and caramel waffle (Rs195). The caramel had the saccharine sweetness of a store-bought product.

Despite the average fare, Tea Villa was brimming with customers, many of whom were college students. They’re no doubt lured by the convenient location on Hill Road, reasonable pricing and the youthful, if distractingly hyper, décor. The colour scheme is black, white and wood and by way of decoration there are cups tacked to walls and corked bottles filled with various leaves suspended on ropes. There’s also a strange sculpture of a girl, with a curved body like a river bend, clad in tea cups. The music is electronic pop, the kind more suited to a gym. In other words, the mise en scene is not exactly suited for a peaceful spot of tea.

Get: Villa Special tea (Rs90), quesadilla (Rs195).
Skip: Lemongrass tea (Rs75), masala tea (Rs75), mushroom shawarma (Rs195), special fries (Rs195).

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

Prices exclude taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.

Tea Villa, Hill Road, opposite Marks & Spencer, Bandra (West). Tel: 80808 50000. Get directions here. Order from Scootsy.

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