EATING, MUMBAI STYLE
The ‘Bombay-style’ restaurant is dying a slow death in the city of its birth, with stalwarts like Dhobi Talao’s Bastani & Co. and Brabourne already gone and others like Kyani and Sassanian barely limping along. But elsewhere around the country, slick faux-Bombay-style diners are booming—giving a new twist to Irani favourites like brun maska and keema pao, along with Mumbai street food classics like dabeli and bhelpuri. Even in London and New York, joints like Dishoom, Talli Joe and Paowalla are taking a bite of the ‘schmaltz-y’ pie.
Café Irani Chai, Mumbai
The first new Irani restaurant to open in Mumbai in 50 years, this modest café sits along a tiny lane in Mahim. It’s a shiny, new portal into a moth-eaten era, with its glass countertop bearing egg trays and glass jars of bull’s eye peppermint candy and Parle G biscuits. The Irani zereshk polow and mutton paya soup are best washed down with a Pallonji brand ginger or masala soda, or, better still, a piping hot (chipped) mug of Bournvita!
A smallish Parsi mom-n-pop eatery gone a wee mod. Run by former food writer and bawi, Kainaz Contractor and former hotelier Rahul Dua, Rustom’s claims to go beyond the ubiquitous dhansak and salliboti offerings of most so-called Parsi restaurants
An early entrant, Soda Bottle Opener Wala (SBOW) has now sprung up in several Indian cities, with the newest being readied, ironically, in the Irani café stronghold of South Mumbai’s Colaba neighbourhood. A place that has an ‘Old Boys’ Club’ feel without being stuffy. Sip a vodka-based Rustom nu soda and snack on the whimsically named Parsistyle Rati Aunty’s chutney edupattice or Byculla’s chicken Russian cutlets A real heart beats beneath the Parsi-style terracotta tiles here, thanks to Cardoz’s innovative takes on the utchi dabeli bada pao sandwich and seafood bhelpuri Here, Chef Clyde Comello takes on classic favourite vada pav and transforms it into a deconstructed vada pav salad, while the beerbar staple chakna becomes chanachur garam, complete with micro greens