The pandemic has reset the clock in a manner that we don’t know weekdays from weekends anymore, but as we’re slowly setting the clock back, weekends are our time to wind away from the screen, and actually look at the world around us. Delhi has been picnicking at Sunder Nursery and everywhere else during the winter, but we don’t really have farmhouse dining experiences like that in and around Mumbai. So while I was looking away from the screen, wanting to eat my lunch al fresco, the idea of doing that at a rustic farmhouse was too good to be true.
Saltt is a farmhouse restaurant in Oleander Farms, helmed by 22-year-old Aaliya Ahuja, who decided to turn this family-owned property into a restaurant. During the lockdown, the family had come to their farm property for a weekend, but ended up staying for four months, and decided to use the time to make their passion project of opening a restaurant come true. Well, lucky for us, because at this point, a Saturday out is an offer no one will refuse.
Saltt has divided the restaurant into two — a bar and a dining space. The ambience is soft, not overpowering with its decor at all, and matches the ease one likes during a meal. Chandeliers hanging from wooden logs, rustic furniture, spaced out big tables, and all the wood used is from the farm itself. Speaking of ease during a meal, how enthused would you be about cocktails that are organic, and preservative free? Two glasses, easy. The juices used in the cocktails at Saltt are cold pressed, syrups are sugar free, and herbs are used from the gardens. I tried two gin cocktails, but the one that I totally fell for was the gin with rooibos tea, and fresh coconut water, and it comes with a small leaf that has the slimy coconut malai to slurp.
As we move on to try the appetisers, I’ve been told that the bharwan aloo ki chaat is unmissable. I’ve lived in Delhi, so it’s not that easy to impress me with aloo chaat here. But crunchy on the outside, stuffed with spicy tandoori potatoes, topped with tamarind chutney, sev, and pomegranate seeds, with dribbles of curd, this aloo chaat was worth trying. An appetiser is not supposed to fill you up, it’s supposed to make you feel ready for a good meal, and that’s exactly what this chaat did.
The cuisine at Saltt is global — there’s a little bit of everything. While I’m usually a little wary of ‘multi cuisine’, the logic here kind of fits. The location of the restaurant is such that a lot of people coming back from Karjat, or going towards main Karjat, will cross the place. So the idea is to make sure there’s something comfortable for anyone who would like to stop by for a meal.
I know I’d need a one pot Asian meal if I was the one stopping by, so while I am keen to try the new stuff, I also want to indulge in one safe, comfortable option. Fried noodles, chicken in soy sauce with fresh veggies, and lots of crunch. It is quite the one-bowl comfort. However, here’s the real deal from the mains — the wood fired pizzas. Disclaimer: I’m not a pizza person. Surprise element: it’s the one dish I took third helpings of. We tried the mushroom chèvre pizza, which comes loaded with bechamel sauce, so much so that you can taste it all the way to the crust. The pizza is loaded with mushrooms, balanced with goat cheese, and is really different from any pizza I’ve tried in Mumbai before, where all the cheeses taste the same, salted and blocked. I was blown by the freshness of the mushrooms used, and this pizza is on my mind more often than I’d like to admit.
Desserts are what define dining experiences for me, and Saltt has a limited menu of three desserts — two of which I scooped up. They do a mean coffee panna cotta that is bitter and sweet in just the right amounts, and light enough for you to indulge in and wipe off the plate. But the second dessert — dark chocolate mousse with sprinkled sea salt and dribbles of caramel on the side — was equally delish, although I expected it to be like any other processed mousse. Dense, dark, and indulgent, with just the right amount of sea salt to add a hint of the sea to the sweetness, this was the perfect way to end the perfect meal.
Saltt is a restaurant for now, but the property has big plans. They already have a separate cafe, a bar, a vintage car area that displays the family’s personal vintage car collection for you to see. It’s a pet friendly, kid friendly property that is just right for a day off, and they have plans to create rooms and make it a resort. But for now, a fun day out with your family, with good food, and a farm like space to breathe, while of course following all COVID precautions, sounds like a great way to unwind.
Where: Saltt, Oleander Farms Pvt. Ltd, Karjat chowk road, vavarle village, Karjat.
Reservations only. No walk ins.