Brun maska, cloyingly sweet chai, khari biscuits, are so Bambaiya and the Irani cafes at which we relish these are such an intrinsic part of our lives in Mumbai. Or shall I say, were? Yes, unfortunately, the favourite hangout of many of us -the Irani Cafes are fast disappearing. No wonder, when I first heard of SodaBottleOpenerWala opening in Mumbai and Restaurateurs duo, Sabina and AD Singh doing their best to keep the flag of Irani cafes flying high, I was both touched and thrilled.
After opening several SBOWs (as we fondly call these), across India, Mumbai too got its first one recently in Mumbai’s plush BKC.
Getting a table here at night is an achievement by itself. We were lucky, as Shonali the Manager, juggled one for us albeit near the bar. That was in fact the most happening area with mixologists displaying their flair for bartending, adeptly preparing and mixing an array of drinks.
Shekangebin is what we opted for. Shikanji with jaggery, prune pieces was refreshing as it was sweet. Served in rustic, but cute bottles, it got our vote instantly. Of course there were several alcoholic and non alcoholic options in the menu. Raspberry soda was tempting but I let that be for another time.
SBOW is definitely a happy place with a great vibe to it which welcomes you immediately and you feel at home from word go. So typical of an Irani cafe too. Warmth personified.
Our Chicken Farcha arrived. Boneless pieces of chicken fried to perfection with a spicy and delicious taste. I loved the way it was served in the traditional way on aluminium trays et al. No frills and yet, so appealing
Spicy mushroom on khari was delectable. Expectedly oily of course but we were not complaining. The mushroom topping was creamy and left you craving for more. The place was teeming with people who were having a good time. Us included.
How can one come to an Irani cafe and not eat keema pav? We succumbed and later, patted ourselves on the back for our perfect choice. The keema with its sweet spicy and tangy flavours was so typically reminiscent of the real one we are all used to. Served with the hot pav, it was a great combination. I have so many fond memories associated with this dish.
A plethora of mutton dishes are on the menu to tantalise the taste buds of mutton lovers. And of course chicken too.
The menu here has been well-planned and with Chef Darius at the helm, there is no concern about the authenticity of the dishes. But I like the fact that apart from Parsi and Irani favourites, Mumbai street food, which we all cannot do without is also included. Dhanshak (classic Parsi dish of mutton with lentils and served with caramelized rice and kachumber), Paatra Ni Macchi (chutney steamed pomfret), our version of the Berry Pulao (veg, chicken and mutton), Prawn Patio (A tangy prawn preparation, sweet, sour and mildly spicy) and other old time favourites like Sali Mutton and Chicken, Goan Fish Curry, Chicken Baida Roti inspired from Bade Miya, occupy a pride of place on the menu.
Vegetarians can equally feel at home at SBOW. Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo A/c Market Mamaji’s Grilled Sandwich and the Bombay Raasta Sandwich, Bharuchi Paneer Akuri with dry fruits et al, are dishes everyone and anyone who loves food will enjoy.
The rules don’t change. One has got to keep space for the bakery items when at an Irani cafe and we did the same at SBOW. Freshly baked in the morning and sold by the piece, there is a wide selection and everyone can find their favourite item on the menu, I assure you. From Badam Nan Khatai to Shrewsbury Biscuit, Mawa Cake to Lagan nu Custard, there is everything. I gorged on the Apple Pie with Custard. The custard was a bit too sweet for my palate but the warm apple pie, filled generously with all things nice was an absolute delight and comforting.
This quirky SBOW, encapsulating all the elements of a typical Irani cafe in terms of decor, bric-a-bracs and more, is a must-visit for anyone who loves Irani food and fun. One can relax, enjoy great food and service, here.
This SodaBottleOpenerWala opens its doors and lets you into a place which is bound to be special to any Mumbaikar.