Review: Canto is the Friendly Neighbourhood Café & Bar

An all-day diner-cum-café turns into a fun bar by night.


Canto in Gaelic translates as corner and in Italian means song and dance. It is exemplified by the location and an oversized wall-art of a dancer reminiscent of traditional flamenco which stands out against the contemporary décor.

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Impressed with the art-deco interiors as we walked in, we were promptly seated in the dining area as the bar space was reserved for a birthday party. High ceiling with ample lighting and attention to detail are the mainstays of this massive 3000-sqaure feet restaurant.

We were told that even the menu celebrates fun and drama around food from around the world. Best described as Global Fusion, you will be piqued by items such as Sambhar Risotto (INR 360), Ragda Bao (four pieces for 340), Salli Botti with Brown Rice (INR 420) and Veg Thai Curry Bunny Chow (INR 420 for veg).

While we pondered over what to order, our neighbouring table was busy instagramming Bruschetta served on papad (INR 280) and quinoa salad stuffed in a papad cone (INR 260 for veg). We looked for something equally interesting and found the Asian salad with rice flour dusted okra (INR 260 for veg) and Pan fried prawns seasoned with basil, chilli, topped with red amaranth and served with lacha paratha (INR 340).

Asian Salad

As we waited for our opportunity to get Insta-happy and dig into our food, the piping hot prawn dish arrived with its intoxicating aroma followed by the Asian salad with a sprinkle of crispy okra for extra crunch. Although it is listed in the Small Plates section of the menu, this flavoursome dish is a complete meal in itself, because it comes with lacha paratha.

Dinner was accompanied by snippets of conversation with Pooja Canotia who co-owns this place with her husband. “We appreciate that everyone does not want the twist. So, if someone requests for bruchetta the traditional way, we are happy to do that. We start our day by noon and after 10:30 pm, we up the vibe to enhance the fun factor. There is no place to just hang out and unwind in this entire stretch of Napeansea Road, Altamount Road, Hughes Road and Malabar Hill. Our aim is to be a café where you can have meetings during the day (yes, there’s free wi-fi) and then it turns into a friendly neighbourhood bar by evening with a DJ and a big screen to watch live matches,” she elucidates.

Canto has also started Karaoke every Thursday and given the ample space, especially in the bar area, this will be a big draw.

What’s Not

I like sampling Baos and was lured by the one with an Indian twist – Ragda Patti Bao. Expectation didn’t meet reality because I had imagined it to be loaded with texture but it was just a bao wrapped around a patti. We gave our feedback that it needed some amount of crunch with pomegranate seeds, sev or some fafda perhaps, and they were very open to our inputs.

The Spanish jambalaya (INR 420 for veg) that was part of the mains was a little too spicy for our taste-buds and could have been better with more veggies.

Even their Drinks Menu had some interesting names and we decided to play safe with a mocktail called Mango Mary (INR 250) which was basically cola infused with mango, flavoured with lime, cumin and jaggery. We had to send it back because the cola was not cold. They were quick to rectify this error but nevertheless, this drink can be given a miss.

Quinoa Salad and Molten Chocolate

We found some respite in the dessert section with Molten Chocolate topped with vanilla ice-cream (INR 180). By this time the DJ had upped the volume, while our heads bobbed up and down signaling that we were happily high on sugar and music.

Address - 534,SVP road , Hughes Road , Girgaum Chowpatty


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