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Ferry Wharf feels like the Pinterest version of Mahesh Lunch Home. It has ocean-blue walls, mirrors rimmed with coir rope, frames of starfish and anchors, and canvases that say “Eat” and “Foodie”. The alfresco section is dressed up with fairy lights, wooden oars painted with seashells, and a signboard that proudly proclaims (and warns) that this is a place “for seafooders”.

Despite its contemporary feel, the menu remains happily old-school, spanning the kind of Mangalorean fare that city institutions like Jai Hind and Mahesh have long popularised. In true “coastal restaurant” tradition, the food is listed by variety of fish. Surmai, for instance is served curried, masala fry, ghee roast, or tandoori. Pomfret is prepared in gassi style, a smooth coconut curry that’s a regional favourite, and pullimunchi, which has similar but bolder flavours (Pulli = tamarind; munchi = chilli). There’s also some standard-issue North Indian fare — why, oh why, can’t we lose the butter chicken? — but it is, of course, to be firmly ignored in a place like this.

While the thought of a good fish curry always lifts the spirits, Ferry Wharf’s menu is a tad disappointing. We were hoping to sample some lesser-known Mangalorean cuisine, like kube mutlee, a hearty dish of rice dumplings and clams cooked in a coarse, coconutty curry. Or at the very least, to see more marine diversity on the menu, instead of the standard pomfret-surmai-prawn line-up.

But all is not lost: For what Ferry Wharf does dish out, they do well. Our sol kadi—served brain freeze-cold in Keventers-style glass bottles—is thicker than usual with a strong punch of garlic, but deliciously sour and creamy. Just the sort of pick-me-up you’d want on a warm afternoon, after wading through Lilavati traffic. As we sip on the tart coconut drink, a sampling platter arrives, with spoonful-servings of prawn gassi, prawn pickle, fish curry, clam sukka, and mutton sukka, for those that might not be acquainted with the flavours on the menu. It’s a lovely way to start a meal, and a change that makes the ordering process far easier and more fun.

Nearly everything we sample—save for fried oysters—is worth a repeat order. Our meal begins with a lush ghee roast, a Mangalorean classic of meat cooked in a paste of red chillies and ghee (no water). Its flaming colour is daunting, but like a good ghee roast, it isn't unnecessarily spicy. We lap it up with neer dosas, and turn our attention to rawas: buttery fish in a velvety curry with high notes of spice and sour.

Ferry Wharf also does generous thalis, that pack in two kinds of seafood and a vegetable stir-fry, along with chapatis and steamed rice that are priced at between Rs 400 and Rs 450 and good for one large meal (or two small eaters). Even if you do pick the thali, get an order of the prawn pickle alongside. It’s tongue curling: high on salt, and sour, and spice, and served in miniature bharnis that we wish we could take home with us.

By the time we are done, we have a fine film of perspiration on our foreheads, and a smile of contentment plastered on our faces. We know we’ll return for a Sunday lunch of varan (dal and ghee) with that deviously good pickle and some masala fried fish on the side. Better still, precede the meal with beers at Doolally (a few doors down) and follow it up with a scoop of ice cream from Bachelorr’s next door. Then Instagram the crap out of it, but don’t forget the SundayFunday sticker.

Getting there: Shop No. 11 & 12, Bldg. No. 3, ONGC Colony, near Doolally and Bachellorr’s, Bandra West. Meal for two Rs 1,000-1,500. No alcohol served for now (they’re working on their license).

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

This review was contributed by Neha Sumitran.

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