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Frenys Bandra: Enjoy East Indian Dishes And Scrumptious Comfort Food At This New Restaurant

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What do you associate with the word “home”? It may mean different things to each of us. But, in one of its idealistic representations, it goes hand-in-hand with family, comfort and nostalgia. Foodies among us will also add unbeatable flavour to the list. When you step into Freny’s Bandra, you get a taste (pun intended) of this homely experience. Our recent meal at this newly opened restaurant in Bandra was a memorable one for several reasons. Allow us to tell you why.

Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

Freny’s is helmed by Chef Freny Fernandes, who used to run the award-winning dessert bar Moner (before it closed in 2023). Many shorthand descriptions calling it an East Indian restaurant are rather misleading. That’s not all there is on offer here. Freny’s is a highly personal project and the menu reflects not just the chef’s roots (as an East Indian), but also her culinary journey in different parts of the world. Alongside the traditional fare, one can therefore find selected Italian treats, popular cafe-style eats and Chef Freny’s famous desserts from Moner.

(P.S. In this context, East Indian doesn’t refer to people from the eastern states of India, but to the ethnic-religious community, living in and around Mumbai, who are often considered among the primary native inhabitants of the region. They may also be called East Indian Catholics or Bombay East Indians.)

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Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

We are seated on the first floor, which functions as a proper dining room and bar. The ground floor has a cosier layout, better suited for those wanting to grab a quick bite and coffee. We are immediately charmed by the personal touches to the Portuguese-style decor and ambience: doilies on the speakers, gingham-bordered tablemats, fun puzzles beside our cutlery and walls covered in B&W photographs. As we enjoy the 80’s music in the background, Chef Freny tells us how the photographs trace the journey of several generations of her family. We are literally surrounded by history and heritage.

Fugyas

Fugyas. Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

We began our meal with the quintessential East Indian delight, Fugyas. They were sprinkled with bottle masala and served with herbed butter. The fugyas were wholesomely crisp – a light indulgence that was the perfect way to start our meal.

In the small plates, we also liked the Cutlet Pav Sliders. They disappeared quickly in one or two small bites. A great option for sharing among a group of friends. The Indyal Tacos had a satisfying texture: the softness of the taco shell, the crunch of purple cabbage and the stringy pieces of chicken. However, we would have preferred the flavour to be on the spicier side. After all, there is some amount of comfort to be derived from extra heat. On the other hand, the flavours of the Masala Tiger Prawns stood out unerringly. They were more aromatic than pungent, but we could not complain. We enjoyed scooping them up with the gravy and bread they were served with.

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Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

The ultimate savoury treat came in the form of the main course. Peter’s Mutton Curry, named after the Chef’s father, provides all the satisfaction of a spicy, home-style curry. No fancy pairing is needed – we savoured it with plain white rice. The curry has all the hallmarks of a family recipe perfected over the years.

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Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

Among the Italian delicacies, we highly recommend the Burnt Garlic & Broccoli Risotto. It was creamy and comforting enough to win the hearts of broccoli haters too!

Our meal was complemented with wonderful drinks throughout the evening. Our pick among the non-alcoholic options is Sparkling Teaser. It’s like a jamun-flavoured lemon soda but manages to keep sourness in check. If you like your drinks on the sweeter side, go for COCO Jambo. A concoction of Cabo, coconut syrup and sparkling wine, it went well with the coastal specialities. We also loved Isabel (brandy mixed with homemade mulled wine, served cold). Named after Chef’s grandmother, it left us thoroughly refreshed. The decision to add such drinks, that have personal stories and childhood emotions attached to them is a purposeful one. Chef Freny tells us she wants people to get a break from cocktail menus that are too cerebral, “serious” or “masculine”.

We kept the novelty for the end – Freny’s Khimad. Described as a “traditional East Indian hot wedding drink,” it consists of brandy, tea, caramel, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Intrigued? We sure were! There’s no denying the warmth provided by it – we cannot imagine having it in Mumbai summers. But we can surely see ourselves returning to sip on it on a breezy monsoon evening, and relishing the medley of sweet and spice.

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Fernandes Rocher. Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

We were finally ready to dig into Chef Freny’s celebrated desserts. We started with a (relatively) light Citron Meringue Tart. The curd was delicately tangy. Each element hinted at the well-honed talent of the pastry chef. The Fernandes Rocher thrilled us not just with its taste, but also its story. “It’s my take on a childhood favourite treat, Ferrero Rocher. As a kid, I remember how relatives would bring back the chocolate when visiting from abroad. So, I decided to give my own twist to it,” Chef Freny explains. It consists of a globe of dark chocolate mousse and a salted caramel core encased within hazelnut praline. “The tuile is shaped around it like the chocolate’s signature gold wrapper,” the chef adds. Again, the different elements hit the right notes of decadence and sweetness.

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Photo Credit: Freny’s Bandra

Freny’s reminded us that dining out with your family in Bandra need not be a complicated or overly sophisticated affair. There’s a lot of fun to be had in simple delights. The restaurant has just the right amount of ‘frills,’ balanced with a commitment to variety and good taste. Whether you’re intrigued by East Indian cuisine or just want to relish pasta and dessert, consider Freny’s your next stop.

Where: Shop no.11, Silver Pearl Building, W, Waterfield Road, opposite China Gate, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050.

When: Tuesday to Sunday

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