It’s a jungle out there. No, really, it is. Right from the entrance to the stairs leading up to the alfresco and then the interiors, The Butler and The Bayleaf, currently Mumbai’s hottest tropical garden restaurant, is filled with plants lining the alley, hanging from the ceiling, dangling from the walls, and even sitting pretty outside the panoramic windows. And if you find yourself gramming away to glory…you won’t be the only one.
The best seat in this cosy new restaurant, serving food from India’s northern belt, is the alfresco section with cute garden benches and twinkling lights. But if you can’t snag one of the three tables here, don’t worry. The inside is no less charming. Royal blue walls host black and white photos of a bygone era, portraits of octogenarians adorned in bright turbans, and various objects d’art make for stunning interiors. The gramophone sitting quietly along with a rusty typewriter, worn out encyclopedias, and a wood panelled transistor will hog several terabytes of your Instagram data.
This is the newest venture from restaurateur Kishore DF, the man behind eateries like Foo, Tanjore Tiffin Room, and The Big Nasty, and menu curated by Chef Rajan Mehra is pleasingly limited, which means fewer decision meltdowns. The dishes are described as tersely as telegrams and do require interaction with staff who are delightful and informative. To start, we chose two salads from the menu. The Pomelo Salad, decked with watermelon cubes, was pleasantly light and burst with flavour; the date chutney added a gentle warmth to the assembly. The Moong Sprout Salad felt like a freshly-brewed blast in your mouth. Its mint and date chutney topped with peppery yam chips will have you lick the bowl clean.
The food at Butler and The Bayleaf is devoid of any theatrics. It leaves the kitchen while still warm and tastes great.
The Kurkuri Bhindi was simple yet exquisite. Each bite resembled home-cooked perfection. Those looking for ideal snacks with drinks must try their spicy shredded raan on mini bakharkhanis. The Kakori Kababs presented with half butter naan and a scoop of green chutney was outrageously smooth and rich in saffron.
Behind the bar, Denzil Khamn swizzles up a fine gin-based cocktail with jasmine syrup and egg white. It’s restrained in both sweetness and sting, with just a light jasmine kick. If you prefer your drinks to be fruity, then the vodka based Polmos Cooler with passion fruit, green apple, and peach ticks all the right boxes.
In the mains, restaurant manager Gouse recommends Ghuti hui Gobi, a mushy cauliflower and potato recipe marinated in spices served with a chewy and slightly sweet taftoon. Just the rotis are worth coming back for as well. The Khameeri is soft and sponge-like, the Bakarkhani speckled with nuts, and the sweet Sheermal whispers of saffron. In desserts, one of their finest options is the Croissant pudding – its spicy rum flavoured Angoori mango rabdi hits the sweet spot every single time. In short…its worth the extra minutes on the treadmill.
Where: Kings International Hotel, 1st Floor, 5 Juhu Tara Road, Opposite St. Joseph’s Church, Juhu, Mumbai
Contact: +91 91675 70591
Opening Hours: 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm – 1:30 am
Recommended dishes: Kurkuri Bhindi, Kakori Kabab, Naan on mini Bakharkhanis, and Croissant Pudding
Price for two: Rs 3,500 for two
Noise levels: Conversation-friendly during the day, noisy in the evenings
Service: Cordial and attentive
All images: Courtesy The Butler and The Bayleaf