Silver Beach Café at Fort, Mumbai, has been realised by Minnie Bhatt Design as a contemporary, homely culinary escape that has a European heart.
This Silver Beach Café outlet at Fort in Mumbai, is an aesthetic extension of its elegant Juhu sibling. “We wanted to infuse the flavour of the first located in the suburbs into the second one located in town. It had to be both uber stylish and warm,” attests designer Minnie Bhatt, for whom the original Silver Beach Café was the first hospitality assignment of her career.
This branch of the café resonates with the warmly-lit, homey charm of old European waterholes, with enough contemporary props peppered around to make patrons of any age group feel comfortable.
There is a palpable sense of restraint and self-assurance about the place, and it is credit to the design team that this deft mix of effects was achieved using very few gimmicky flourishes.
The façade sets up an inside-outside communion, with large glass windows giving outsiders a sweeping view of the two-level seating segmentation of the café, even as the branches of the surrounding trees seem to lean in to envelop the building.
The minimal entry-way conjures up the romanticism of European bistros, complete with an ornate lamp-post holding the café signage. The H-shaped facade of the building is graced by four planters formed out of halved wooden barrels and suspended by metal chains.
The lower level of the café has seating which is further divided into two sub-sections. To the left are high-backed, faux leather seats that bring to mind delis and free-wheeling conversations. This red-back-dropped ensconce is contrasted by a more light-hearted section to the right; this is dominated by a long sofa that is upholstered in newsprint, and faces casual un-upholstered chairs.
Hanging at the ends of jute ropes that snake around a metal bar above this stretch, are naked incandescent bulbs. The flooring is grey IPS, while the sturdy ceiling is kept up with the help of stout wooden beams.
The café eschews wall art in favour of shelves and cabinets, but to keep some interest up, the walls are lightly textured to complement the ochre lighting.
Up the wooden stairs is the bar, all brown and glorious; here the sloping roof provides a touch of refurbished vintage attic charm. The centre of the room is left bare with casual seating surrounding it. On one end is a long sofa, with a shelf on the maroon wall above, holding a melange of pretty artefacts.
On the other end is the bar, again sporting clean lines and an air of efficient organisation. The bar counter sports a fine collage of wooden wine box lids; the logos of the many wine brands coming together to form a surprisingly cohesive artistic display. Facing the counter are metal and wood shelves carrying liquor bottles that rise up the wall as majestically as organ pipes in a chapel.
If the lower level at this café is all casual get-togethers and the aroma of coffee, then the upper level seems to invite serious aficionados and polite clinks of fine cutlery. This coming together of different demeanours within the same building is the hidden brilliance at play in this café.Silver Beach Café at Fort stands out because it doesn’t try too hard to achieve that end.It keeps its interiors simple, well-designed, and intelligently furnished, focusing on creating small ecosystems rather than one bulky theme.
In the process, it never loses its contemporary design credentials either. None of its props are in-your-face, but they sure will inspire many a fond “did you notice that?” among its guests – which is a great way for a café to make an impression in any case.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Designer