It’s easy to classify a community based on their most obvious characteristic and the Koli community has been carrying the legacy of being Mumbai city’s first inhabitants like a proud badge. What this generalisation masks is the absence of any agency given to the community. In fact, with multiple infrastructure projects such as the upcoming Coastal Road and sea links, it’s fair to say that the community’s primary means of earning via fishing is about to take a big hit, along with their future prospects.
Take all these factors into account and the new menu at Slink & Bardot—inspired by the Koliwada community at Worli, where the restobar is housed—comes into sharper focus. The food and drinks program has certainly been picked from its surrounding area but does it live up to the challenge of truly representing them whilst also standing on its own when it comes to taste and balance of flavours? Read on to find out.
The Worli Koliwada menu features a seven-course tasting menu inspired by elements from a fish thali such as fish, rice, kokum, coconut, and spices. Curated by executive chef Ali Akbar Baldiwala, the menu packs a diverse range of flavour profiles starting with the amuse course featuring Rice Bread and Fish N’Duja in the non-vegetarian section. The creaminess of the fish paired with the crunch of the rice bread serves as a good start for the tasting menu as it doesn’t leave any lingering taste notes at the end.
It's the second and fourth courses particularly caught our attention. The former, Oyster with Kokum Saar Granita, a cold touch to the palate, instantly reminds you of the sea with the oyster. The vegetarian option with cured and compressed watermelon instead of oyster works just as well.
The fourth course, the Barramundi Ceviche with Solkadhi broth is perhaps the best dish on the menu. The bite and tang of the solkadhi blends perfectly with the fish ceviche and is a definite high point of Baldiwada’s offering, showing restrain and innovativeness in equal measure.
Other courses did not leave as much of an impression as the ones above but when paired together, ; they’re not exactly the stars on the menu. The Rawa Fry Bombil with Gondhoraj Thecha served in the third course felt like a forced addition of the thecha to the menu that overpowered the whole dish. All in all, the seven-course food menu is definitely worth sitting and chowing down slowly as you wonder about the lives of the inhabitants beyond Slink & Bardot’s famous red door.
Having spent almost half a year in developing ‘Tales From The Shoreline’, the cocktail menu for the Worli Koliwada menu, head mixologist Santosh Kukreti’s drinks carry a certain quiet confidence. Favourites from the menu include Koli Echoes, Sunset at Slink, and Coast Guard’s Brew. The last one is the result of the bar team interacting with the Coast Guard unit stationed just outside on early mornings and is a milk-washed cocktail made with vodka, coffee and ghee that serves as a great drink to wake up the night.
Sunset at Slink is inspired by the Worli Fort and features Aperol, Mezcal and a garnish made of lemon and citrus pink salt meant to replicate salt air that is impossible to miss around Worli seaside. Koli Echoes, on the other hand, is their take on Koli community’s local toddy and is made with vodka, sake, and green botanicals. Served in a sake carafe, this is the perfect drink to share with friends in shot glasses that come with frozen lychee to enhance the taste of the spirit.
Other drinks didn’t particularly pass muster on the day. The Saint Nicholas, a sparkling watermelon wine, felt flat while the Jujube Sour that features the local jujube (bor) fruit didn’t taste like the hero ingredient was being championed.
As someone who stays in the vicinity of both the Koli community and Slink & Bardot, I have always felt Koli women selling their day’s catch of fish bang opposite Slink & Bardot— where the well-heeled come to dine— to be a masterful microcosm of Mumbai where everyone is forever jostling for space. Finding an entire menu dedicated to the community that first came to the city, and in whose heart Slink & Bardot resides, is the right step towards not just acknowledging, but also celebrating each other’s existence.
There’s also enough in the food and drinks menu to give diners a genuine taste of the Koliwada community’s eating habits to recommend trying the entire tasting menu. Indeed, this is probably Chef Baldiwala stepping up and putting his dishes in serious contention among some of the best tasting menus in the city. Santosh Kukreti’s cocktails also don’t disappoint and fuse with the food as well as stand on their own. It’s time to put Taste of Slink: Koliwada Edition on your must-eat list.
Address: Thadani House 329/A Opposite Indian Coast Guard Worli Village
Meal for two: INR 3,500 plus taxes per person for the ‘Taste of Slink: Koliwada Edition’ menu. Cocktails are charged separately as on the menu. This menu needs to be reserved 24 hours in advance.