Quaint cafes that are scattered across the Italian countryside served as the inspiration for Love & Latte, a new coffee shop in Bandra. We know this because the story is carved on a wall of wood inside the café, which opened in place of the Amore gelato outlet on Waterfield Road last week. The five-line narrative talks of a girl who loves coffee so dearly that she started this café fashioned after the ones she had visited while on holiday in Italy.

The mention of coffee breaks on an Italian vacation prompts images of rustic family-owned establishments serving robust brews to customers who soak in enviable views of the lush landscape. Owner Neha Gogia’s 700 square feet coffee shop in Bandra is done up with modern furnishings such as leather upholstery, bright wallpaper, and a mural with pop art illustrations. The view from the café is that of a snarl-ridden Bandra junction. As such, Love & Latte has no tangible likeness to a countryside cafe. But this is not to say that the place is without charms. The decor is cute and cheerful and the sea green and cream colour scheme is a refreshing change from the brown, rust and orange that we see splashed on the walls of the many coffee shops in the city.

The café offers hot and cold beverages including fruit-flavoured summer coolers, and standard coffee shop snacks such as quiches, puffs, paninis, wraps and sandwiches. When we went by on a weekday evening, we found the café in the care of a group of well meaning albeit jittery staff. It took them a while to simply grill the readymade chicken tikka sandwich, and longer still to work the gleaming and rather fancy coffee machine. We certainly don’t expect sure-footed service in the opening month of a café, but it was not okay that we were served underwhelming coffee, especially after we read about Gogia’s source of inspiration. Our Hazelnut Blast was an intensely sweet cold coffee without even a hint of hazelnut. A few sips of this coffee had the same effect on us as an espresso, but in this case, the rush came from the sugar that overpowered the caffeine. The Vintage is a classic cold coffee that was thankfully not as sweet as the Hazelnut Blast, but a bit mild for our liking. If you’re more inclined towards a hot beverage, get their excellent tiramisu hot chocolate. It tasted nothing like the Italian dessert, but was generously infused with a hazelnut chocolate sauce that tasted just like Nutella.

The snacks were as hit and miss as our drinks. The chicken tikka mix in the chicken tikka sandwich was a tad sour, almost as though vinegar had been accidentally used in the recipe. The chicken quiche, with its flaky pastry, was more like a chicken puff but was enjoyable regardless. The meat was tossed in a light garlic mayonnaise and baked with a layer of cheddar over it. Sadly, the super sweet coffee coursing through our system left us with no appetite for their selection of desserts, which includes walnut brownies, Black Forest mousse pastry, apple pie, and chocolate mousse.

There are a number of coffee shops in Bandra, some with beach-facing views and others patronised by Bollywood celebrities. Love & Latte’s big advantage over these favourites is that it’s the only one in the suburb that begins service at 7am.

A meal for two costs approximately Rs380. All reviews are conducted anonymously.

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