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13.02.2017

Friends and family, you’ve earned a rest from bringing us brownie couriers every time you come up from Bombay. Long envious of you for keeping the first twelve (!) Theobromas in the country to yourselves, we’re all excitement en route to the thirteenth, which opened last week at CyberHub (more will arrive shortly at Noida’s Mall of India and Connaught Place).

Our brunch is carefully planned to avoid CyberHub’s lunch-hour hysteria, but there are already over twenty people lined up at the small café when we approach. Ready to be soothed by that familiar sea-green colour scheme, we are, instead, instantly confused.

The Sounding Of The Grump

A crush at the billing counter ensures no one can see what’s actually on display. The staffer at the till refuses to speak to us when we inch forward, eventually, to ask if someone would consider taking our order. When attempts to get attention from servers finally pay off, we’re told that the café menu isn’t available - so no Eggs Benedict yet, woe - and the only savouries on offer are refrigerated sandwiches reminiscent of airline food.

Clearly, Bombay people forgot to tell us that service at Theobroma is a hand-me-down from their city’s old Irani cafés, complete with frosty servers, comical stinginess -- you get one paper napkin per person, on request -- and serious “Please don’t talk to cashier” problems.

Unfortunately, none of this is compensated with the speedy, steaming-hot service you do get from grumpy Irani chachas. We follow up 30 minutes after ordering to see if they’ve forgotten us, then kind of wish they had, when we get to the counter and see them putting our sandwiches in the oven - without hygiene gloves on. Every problem is a nail!

Clearly, Bombay people forgot to tell us that service at Theobroma is a hand-me-down from their city’s old Irani cafés, complete with frosty servers and comical stinginess -- you get one paper napkin per person, on request.

Straight Outta Colaba

Finally, the food. We’re happy to inform you that the brownies are worth the trouble: the stick-to-your-tongue millionaires are all gooey, old-fashioned indulgence, as always. We can’t say the same for an insipid creamy lemon tart on a paper plate that looks like it was rescued from the bottom of the pack. The Theo counters are full of other good-looking desserts, but this puts us off ordering more.

Thankfully, a Roma Tomato sandwich - even handled the way it is - is delightfully generous, full of fresh Parsi mint-coriander + coconut chutney, sundried and pickled tomato. A grilled pepper sandwich is also spilling with filling: too cheesy for our tastebuds, but no doubt perfect for CyberHub types who skip breakfast for a living.  

Drinks arrive after dessert and snacks (of course): lemon ice-tea is fresh and delicious, and makes up for cold coffee that tastes weak and milky. The tea also fortifies us for another trip to the counter to inquire about the remainder of our meal. A spinach and corn quiche is suitably creamy and oozy, with a light pastry that underscores why Theo’s patisserie is a byword. We’re puzzled, then, at why plain and cheese croissants are so dry - flaky and crusty, they lack any of the airiness and butter-sweetness you’d expect from these kitchens.

Two dozen brownies come home with us in a box, which improves the aftertaste of this meal somewhat. We leave happier than the growing crush of annoyed, impatient customers trying to get someone’s attention and are mystified at how this outlet is going to stay afloat in a crowded, fast-paced office complex. Alas, this Bombay Valentine has turned out to be less than reliable.

Getting there: Ground Floor, Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, opposite Burma Burma, no reservations. Snacks for three cost around Rs 1120.

Accessibility: Cyber Hub and Theo are wheelchair accessible. The shared loos are on the first floor of the complex, connected by an elevator.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

This review was conducted by Aparna Jain, leadership coach and author of Own It! and The Sood Family Cookbook.

 

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