As Pret A Manger Launches In India, Here's What To Expect
Image Credit: At Pret A Manger, there is a strong focus on wholesome, clean eats, with an emphasis on keeping the food as fresh as possible.

AMIDST a slew of brands that are making a beeline for India, UK-based fresh food and coffee chain Pret A Manger is the latest, having just launched its first outpost in Mumbai’s BKC. Known for its convenient grab-and-go fare — ranging from packaged sandwiches, salads, fruit and breakfast pots, soups as well as bowl meals, among other offerings — Pret, as it is commonly referred to, finally made its India debut after announcing its plans last year to foray into the country, in partnership with Reliance Brands Limited.

The chain has a large presence in the UK with over 400 stores and also locations around the world in the US, Singapore, France, Dubai, Hong Kong, etc. Its India rollout is starting with the first store in BKC, followed by another at Palladium Mall, Lower Parel and a third in Delhi-NCR’s Cyberhub very soon.

We managed to get a look at the space on the opening weekend. Here’s what you can expect:

Fresh Offerings

True to its name, which translates as ‘ready-to-eat’, the expansive store, spread over 2,500 sq. ft, mimics the chain’s international outposts. The brand’s signature colours of maroon and beige dominate the space, which is sectioned into lounge-style seating, high chairs overlooking a bank of glass windows, along with a clutch of tables. This store also features an adaptation of Pret’s ‘emanating star’, a central element of the brand’s logo, with traditional Warli patterns and other modern design elements that represent Mumbai. In keeping with Pret’s commitment to support local craftsmanship, the artwork has been conceptualised and created by Guerrilla Art and the Vayeda brothers using coffee as the base — symbolic of the fresh, organic coffee served at Pret around the world.

As you enter, you’ll find a whole wall lined with shelves stacked with packaged sandwiches, salads, stone-baked baguettes, salad wraps, hot soups and bowl meals like laksa curries, with plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for consumers. There is also an entire section dedicated to beverages like cold-pressed juices, seltzers and juice shots. While the chain isn’t going to be tweaking any of its offerings to cater to local palates, rather, keeping it standardised like its international stores, you will find a couple of Indian references like the guava juice, pomegranate juice with kokum, and lemon and mint, apart from staples like orange juice.

There is a compact coffee menu as well, featuring several hot and iced options, as well as smoothies and shakes. You can even choose from non-dairy alternatives such as almond, oat and coconut milk. Pret is sourcing its coffee locally from Araku Coffee, with a specific roast that has been curated just for them.

The Food

When I visit on a Sunday afternoon, the space is already packed with people jostling in queues with their baskets piled high with items ranging from baguettes and sandwiches to breakfast pots. The centre of the store houses the coffee bar with display cases laden with freshly-baked croissants and cookies, that you can add to your order while the staff does your billing. There are also packets of water lily pops or makhana, if you fancy. The idea is to service every order in a minute or less, ensuring it sticks to its concept of convenience.

The sandwiches are the star of the show here. I opt for the super club chicken sandwich which features soft bread, fresh salad leaves, tomatoes and smoked chicken slathered in a creamy dressing. It’s perfectly moreish and isn’t dense or heavy. Another worthy pick is the pickle and posh cheddar granary sandwich.

I’m told that the dough is imported from the UK and baked fresh daily at the store to ensure consistency with its international offerings. The croissants, however, lack the requisite flakiness and end up being a bit dense instead. They aren’t bad but could be better.

Moving on, I sample the hummus and falafel mezze, which is a bit lacklustre in comparison to the other fare on my table. While the greens are perfectly crunchy and lend a palatable freshness to the dish, the dressing disappoints owing to the lack of seasoning. The mango and banana sunshine bowl is the perfect breakfast/brunch food, featuring thick mango pulp, coconut, bananas and muesli. It’s ideal for those looking for a quick pick-me-up.

The coffee is standout and it’s where Pret India will potentially really shine. I sample a coffee frappe while my dining partner opts for a hot Americano. Robust and full-bodied, the chain has done a stellar job with sourcing its coffee and keeping to its commitment of 100 percent organic coffee.

The Verdict

Overall, there is a strong focus on wholesome, clean eats, with an emphasis on keeping the food as fresh as possible. By the time I was done with my meal, half of the shelves had been emptied and the staff was seen scurrying into the kitchen to replenish their stock.

Given its location in a commercial district, it makes perfect sense to have a concept like Pret A Manger, where busy office-goers can stop by for a quick meal or take something to go. The fact that the store is located next to a mall, is an added bonus. With a commitment to sourcing locally and keeping its offerings fresh and wholesome, it will be interesting to see how it competes with other F&B chains in the market.

Address: Pret A Manger, Maker Maxity Ground Floor, 3 North Avenue, Bandra Kurla Complex Road, Mumbai - 400051. 

Timings: open from 8.30am to 11.30pm

Meal for two: Rs 1,500 approx.