Suzette – named after the famous Parisian speciality Crepes Suzette – is a cosy cafe nestled in a line of eating houses in Pali Hill.
With both indoor and outdoor dining, this intimate space has been fashioned to resemble a typical French bakery, with a limitless menu of fresh juices, crepes, sandwiches, baguettes, salads, omelettes, and other breakfast items.
Outdoors, the vibe is relaxed, with a mood akin to enjoying a snack or coffee on one’s own porch. France is everywhere; in the wooden shutters, in the conversation between owners and customers, on the sketched placemats drawn by artist Jeanne Boujenah.
The establishment has teamed up with Alliance Francaise Bombay, which offer Mumbai locals an insight into French culture through various social opportunities such as cinema, themed talks and theatre.
I start with the Latine crepe, a savoury, light pancake filled with Spanish serrano ham, mascarpone, mozzarella and fresh basil. There is an interesting yet complementary mix of flavours; the dish is reminiscent of a very delicate, very light wrap.
The combination of both cheeses results in a strong and bitey flavour and the ham is salty and fabulous. The creamy mascarpone acts as the lubricating factor in the dish.
The next dish, the Croque Onion was created as a unique product by the head chef to fill consumer demand for a product which is in between a wrap and a sandwich. Prepared using organic buckwheat flour, it is more filling than a traditional crepe such as the Latine sampled above.
Crispy and flaky not unlike an Indian paratha, it is filled with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, caramelized onion and pan-seared mushrooms.
With a flexible menu, customisation of each dish is encouraged. I had decided to add Spanish cooked ham to the croque, however for some reason the flavour of the meat came across as rather bland.
This dish is essentially hearty, comfort food which may not appeal to those looking for obviously piquant flavours.
It should be noted that Suzette has deliberately not made any attempt to cater to Indian tastes by adding spice or masala; this is a cafe which carries the motto ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’ well into its food.
The Eté salad is a colourful, cheery concoction of neutral zucchini and rocket strewn with fresh bursts of juicy sweet pieces of orange and mango pieces.
Wonderfully rough textures of chopped almond and pomegranate seeds give personality to a dish which eats like a three-dimensional tropical juice.
The fresh, squeaky clean flavours reassure the diner that yes, this is healthy and delicious, with absolutely no meat required. Did I just say that?
Suzette uses seasonal fruits in this salad, previously using strawberries instead of mango and after that, peaches.
The ever-constantly evolving menu is what tantalises regular customers and attracts new followers.
I end with the Foret crepe, a vegetarian buckwheat crepe pancake filled with pan-seared mushrooms, creamed spinach and emmenthal cheese.
Featuring an egg cooked sunny side up as the grand centrepiece, this dish does not shine as brightly in terms of flavour especially after the grand performance of the Latine crepe and the Ete salad.
With no marked contrast of flavours and moving again into the realm of ‘comfort food’, I found myself scraping off the cheese and vegetables and eating them sans crepe. True to my fickle nature, I craved relief in the form of some kind of non-vegetarian additive.
Adding pork sausage may have changed the dynamic of this dish. Old habits die hard.
I end with the Belgian chocolate mousse. Made from pure Belgian chocolate, it is the only dish which allows a little bit of India to seep into the lining – by presenting itself in a chai glass!
With decadent, cloud-like fluffiness, the dessert is so rich that my craving for sugar is satiated after just a few spoonfuls.
The owners of Suzette are very particular about the origin of their produce; authenticity and quality being their strict mantra. In order to replicate French traditional cuisine, the ham and cheese used at the establishment are an imported variety from a local supplier.
The buckwheat flour is imported directly from France, as the quality of local flour did not meet the stringent requirements for the discerning palates at Suzette. The dough is prepared fresh every morning at 7:30am.
Suitable for the health-conscious with all dishes gluten-free and vegan-friendly, many of the customers are almost daily regulars who are quick to notice any taste discrepancies in their food. Management combats this issue by checking the method of preparation and tasting every day to ensure initial recipes are retained.
The imported ingredients reflect in the relatively steep prices for the Mumbai sandwich market, hence the mostly expat clientele, who no doubt convert the price back into their home currency to discover a price which is either cheaper than or on par with home – a trait I am guilty of to this day.
Ambience 8.5, Food 9.