Bellona Hospitality Services Limited, the hospitality arm of Phoenix Group, has opened a new all-day café & bar, 212 All Good in Mumbai, India, with the promise to cater nutritious, wholesome café-style food and drinks to the changing dietary habits of Mumbai. It is devoid of preservatives and refined sugar and maintains that “if it is out of a bottle, it does not go on the plate; if it is building good bacteria in our gut, it most definitely goes on the plate.”
212 All Good uses all locally sourced produce from its partners—The Spotted Cow Fromagerie, Earth Loaf, Vrindavan Farms, Samskara, SOS Organics, and Crop Connect, to name a few. The café incorporates indigenous and seasonal produce such as Moringa; ancient grains of India; whole grain flour pasta and spaghetti; tendli, also known as ivy gourd which is indigenous to the South Asian sub-continent; spinach in burgers; and palm sugar and dark jaggery instead of refined sugar.
According to the National Sample Survey Office report of 2011 to 2012, there is an increase in intake of processed food, eating out, refined sugar, and salts and decrease in fresh vegetables, fruits, and cereals. Johnson and Johnson Medical, India, conducted a review on obesity in India and Charles Darwin University Australia (in association with Apollo Hospital and Medanta Medicity) conducted studies on prevalence of endocrine disease and Type-2 Diabetes in North India—both studies corroborated the change in dietary patterns. This is the result of increase in income, economic growth, the effect of trade and globalization, and blitzkrieg advertising.
Acknowledging the steady change in the dietary habits, Romil Ratra, the Director and Chief of Bellona Hospitality, stated in their concept note, “It’s time to make this city All Good considering the increased number of people eating out; it’s time for us restaurateurs to become responsible in our approach so we can, in turn, take care of our patrons’ well-being.”
“Today’s diner is eating out more than ever and subsequently experiencing ‘Post Meal Stress Disorder’ (PMSD) or the chronic guilt experienced from consuming restaurant food,” says Deepti Dadlani, Vice President Marketing of Bellona Hospitality Services Limited, “in turn, leading to a deep-rooted dysfunctional relationship with food.”
According to Dadlani, the main idea for the café was to “fix the relationship issue that people are having with their food.” She further explained, “the concept emerged from a clear understanding that nourishing the gut lends to a heightened sixth sense and emotional health. The gut is your second brain, and also where 80 percent of human immunity lies.”
212 All Good team uses various home-style cooking techniques such as fermenting, pickling, dehydrating, and slow cooking. This allows the body to retain nutrients and provide with good gut bacteria. Moina Oberoi, a macrobiotic and fermentation expert, helped the team in creating criteria for their food and drinks. “We have taken café food, used home-style cooking techniques but presented it in restaurant-style,” stated Dadlani. This venture is also an attempt at reviving the age-old cooking traditions of pickling and fermentation for Dadlani.
This focus on gut-friendly food differentiates 212 All Good from other concepts such as calorie-conscious cafes, whole foods, and health stores and cafes. “It would be misleading,” says Dadlani. “To be calorie-conscious, would suggest that you would lose weight by eating this food. Losing weight and being healthy has lot more to do than just eating at a specific café. It’s about following a certain lifestyle. So losing weight will follow, if you have your fundamentals in place, if you have a strong gut, if you have a healthy balanced lifestyle.”
212 All Good all-day café aims to be inclusive of various dietary needs and comforts. It has vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free dishes as well, and a bar with natural and freshly made botanical mixers and sodas for their drinks. “You won’t find too many calorie-conscious spaces having a bar,” Dadlani pointed out heartily. While the café & bar has been met with enthusiasm by their patrons, some of them have found the flavors to be too alternative. However, she is optimistic, “I think, the acceptance will come.”
Dadlani’s hope for 212 All Good is to be able to successfully communicate with the people to be mindful of the effort that goes behind the food they are consuming. “It took someone a lot of work to grow a small batch of seasonal mulberry for a cup of mulberry iced tea which would be consumed in six gulps,” she explains.
She also hopes that people will learn to treat their food and gut with respect. “A stronger gut will help you be nicer, kinder, a lot more empathetic, sensitive, and successful and be a more whole-rounded person. The goal is that people eat for the gut and respect the gut and become those people. As idealistic as that sounds, that is the truth.”