Think American food and it’s likely to conjure up images of delicious burgers, crispy chicken wings and golden fries. Now imagine all this, but served up with a gourmet twist, all your comfort flavours intact. Say hello to SAZ Café, an all-day dining kitchen & cocktail bar.
Run by Pass Code Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., which also houses SAZ – American Brasserie in New Delhi and Kolkata, and the recently launched SAZ On The Beach in Goa, the hospitality group now expands in Mumbai. SAZ Café gets its name from New Orleans’ classic cocktail, Sazerac. “I had many versions of the sazerac when I was in New Orleans. The first time I tried one was at the historic Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street at the Mardi Gras and it was one of the best cocktails I ever had. I fell in love with it instantly,” explains Rakshay Dhariwal, M.D., Pass Code Hospitality on why the cafe is named so. And that’s just the vibe he brings to SAZ Café.
Located in Lower Parel, the open-air cafe sits on the buzzing main road just next to the busy Kamla Mills, but still offers a calm, chilled-out vibe. Blending the charm of a New Orleans courtyard with a chic modern NYC diner, you’re welcomed into a small, yet cosy space with planters hanging over the open ceiling and a bar side that faces an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work.
Ahead of its launch on December 17, I got a preview of the cafe’s modern American cuisine. Here’s what I got a taste of.
The Sazerac Attack
As I fancy fruity cocktails, I tried the Saz G&T (Gin, Saz Citrus Cordial, Tonic), Americano (Aperitif, Vermouth, Watermelon), or Brandy Crusta (Brandy, Bourbon, Blackberry Shrub, Peach)–they’re ideal tropical picks. But you must begin with a round of what the cafe is known for–a House Sazerac made with Pass Code’s House Blend Whiskey.
The menu is divided into Grub, Gourmet and Go-To Classics, and I tasted a few meals from each section. I paired my drink with the perfect snack–Saz Fried Chicken PopCorn. Unlike what you get at fast-food chains, this appetiser comes with am amped up but different flavour that is super addictive. The fresh Avocado on Toast, which comes with an optional poached egg will have you ordering seconds! If you’re a fun-gi, you’ll love the Mushroom Croissant with porcini cream. As someone who runs away from mushrooms, I ended up doing the exact opposite.
A Modern Mezze section featuring hummus and other vegetarian dips also appears on the menu. I tasted the Roasted Carrot and Tahini Jazra and Smoked Zucchini Moutabel paired with the hand-rolled pita bread, which deserves a special mention for being super light and soft, making it gourmet in its truest sense. The mains included a Pan Seared Snapper with tomato couscous & lemon butter and Eleftheria Burrata Pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes, but the real deal is the Linguine with porcini and goats cheese caramelised walnuts and shimeji. Yes, another mushroom-flavoured dish that got my taste buds tingling!
Sweet Treats Are Made Of These
You must leave space in your belly for the indulgent desserts offered here. Case in point: the SAZ Brookie with salted caramel ice cream, popcorn and sea salt. Unless you have a large appetite, you’ll want to share this delicious treat with one or two more people. Another must-try dessert is the Passion Fruit Cheesecake, a perfect dessert to end your lunch.
Overall, SAZ Café is a great space where you can sit back and relax, meet your friends for a glass of wine/cocktail, go on a candle-lit dinner date and indulge in feel-good, gourmet food. So be rest assured you’ll leave feeling content. Besides, the chef did something my mum has been trying to do for ages–he got me to like mushrooms!