One of the most pre-eminent attributes that define South Bombay's cultural and heritage-induced areas is the colonial-era buildings, offices, and homes, some of which continue to exist to date with little or moderate refurbishings. Talking about the homes, while some residents or their descendants still live in these houses, many have sold or leased these out, making room for alterations. One such restored colonial-era bungalow has made space for a popular dining space called 'Neuma' - a hospitality venture of the Bollywood director Karan Johar, where we recently happened to spend our afternoon soaking in the beauty of the architecture and some delectable food.
Garden cafe, right at the entrance.
Located on the 4 Mandalik road in Colaba, more than anything that captivates the attention here at Nuema, it is the interior, thoughtfully fabricated by Ashiesh Shah, that requires a special mention. This coveted space right opposite the Port Health Office, here, takes one on a voyage of striking architectural concepts. We entered through the Garden cafe of Neuma and progressed to an oakwood-sun porch area that flawlessly allowed the sunlight to beam through it and filled the entire space with enough glare, the way we liked it, and we sat and snugged here to enjoy the pleasant afternoon that falls in Mumbai's winter!
The oakwood-sun porch area
'Going further in Neuma takes one to a black-and-white cement tile courtyard, central to all the rooms here, while to the left of it is a bar meant to give an impression of a boudoir inspired by Moulin Rouge. It is the reddish tint of the entire space that promises to flaunt its seducing character, paving the perfect corner for the couples, a glimpse of which we witnessed through a romantic birthday celebration that took place within our presence. The right to this space is the intimate and elegant dining area designed to give a hunch of a government office with vintage-styled chairs, shelves, and glass cases. However, an extension to this part also takes one to a private dining area meant for a group of people who want to relish food amid the serenity that comes with greenery. Way up to the bungalow is another space that does not let down but impresses with its black hues mixed with foilage, and a dedicated area meant to give one a perception of a yacht deck, all of which seemed to be at a standstill during our visit but is most likely to be alive at nights and on the weekends.
The central part of the house on the ground floor
Wholesome culinary experience at Neuma
Black and Yellow Ravioli and The Neuma Rice Bowl
Along with the enticing aesthetics reflecting through each corner of the place, Neuma well maintains its culinary experimentations, exploring an array of European cuisines. We tried our hands at TDF New Zealand Lamb Chops, which turned out to be perfectly marinated and had a good flavor and texture. Another to come our way was the Fresh Ocean Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche, which got our full marks for the presentation, although it appealed to our tongues a little less, telling us how our cravings for a summer appetizer went wrong on a mild winter afternoon! What compensated for the former dish was the Black and Yellow Ravioli, an experimental variation to the Ravioli, defining how the vegan menu has been focused well at Neuma.
Burnt Basque Cheesecake and Espresso Misu
As we stepped further towards the delicious thrills, we were greeted with a fine and wholesome main course, The Neuma Rice Bowl, which we preferred with the Chicken. This coriander fried rice presented with sauteed vegetables merged well with the chicken, and out of the three sauces served with it, we just went with the Moilee sauce to balance the flavors, and no doubt, it turned out to be a hearty meal for us. In addition, the sweet tooth in us found its happy place in the faultlessly rustic Burnt Basque Cheesecake, and the coffee lovers in us found its ultimate heaven in the Espresso Misu - all credits to the tint of artisanal coffee with sprinkled coco powder and espresso caviar.
In the last two years since its inception, Neuma has surely done justice to restaurant Indigo - an erstwhile hotspot in Appolo Bunder that existed here before it was closed in 2018 and that always received fair recognition among the patrons. Not only did this fact take us on a nostalgic ride, but also, the entire setting of the bungalow represented the best of borrowings from different parts of the world. Along with this, however, the best part about the Neuma is how it has also maintained a few elements as authentic as the majority of the old bungalows in South Bombay built in the early 20th century. The doors of the washrooms at Nuema are one such testimony that has kept Bombay alive amidst the international influences evident in Neuma. If anything could add to the glamour that Neuma possesses, it is the well-presented food, making the place the luxurious mystique that even its owner, Karan Johar, is known for.