The days of an Irani Café seem like an era bygone and with just a handful of them barely surviving, a modernized Irani Café thrives in the suburban neighborhood for over two years.
Paying homage to the heritage cafes, restaurateur AD Singh (the mind behind Olive and the Fatty Bao) introduced the casual dining café; Soda Bottle Opener Wala.
A couple of years ago when SBOW followed up its hugely successful stint in Delhi and Bangalore with an exciting opening in Mumbai, there was a positive trending buzz which has hardly changed over time. The weekdays are still brimming in the daytime with corporates and the sunsets draw in patrons tapping to 80s music and Bollywood nights.
The ambiance is an ode to Aamchi Mumbai triggering numerous memoirs from original Irani cafes like Kayani and Britannia & co. Old yesteryear furniture and tables draped in red & white chequered table cloth (Parsi fashioned), retro music, aluminum wares & Parsi /Irani dishes on the menu spice up the nostalgic environment. The walls of the café list the traditional “Must Not Do’s”, old poster adverts and a hilarious family tree illustration tracing Rustom Sodawala to Queen Elizabeth.
Contrary to authentic Irani cafes which do not serve alcoholic concoctions, the bar here serves some of the best buzzing cocktails that will keep you swaying in a trance. All those 90’s kids would remember Phantom cigarettes, hard boiled candies and kismi toffees; a sweet nostalgic line-up of tooth decaying treats. All of this back and forth memory pendulum got my hunger pangs all worked up and ready to take the Parsi culinary journey.
Edu Khawanu, Coffee Pivani, Majani Life
Irani chai would be a miss for me as I am a coffee addict. Pheteli Coffee and the customary bun maska was first up, followed by Egg Kejriwal. The coffee was accompanied by Nan Khatai which triggered endless memories of Kayani Co and other similar cafes.
Pheteli Coffee is a frothy brew which can give Starbucks and other high-end cafes a run for their money.
Egg Kejriwal is a fabulous interplay of Toast with a spread of butter sauteed Mushrooms, green chilies and sunny side eggs. The egg yolks are perfectly done and ready to be popped. One little stab with a knife and the yolk would run out like a smooth river.
Bhuna Chicken Sandwich which is a good remake of Bhuna chicken in a sandwich variant, lacked the genuine spicy punch of bhuna chicken.
For Mains, the traditional “Patra ni Machi” and the iconic “Berry Pulao” in a Mutton variant made it’s way to our table.
Patri ni Machi—Pomfret fish is smothered in coconut and coriander chutney enveloped in Banana leaf and steamed to perfection. While the freshness of the fish was intact, it’s taste leaned more towards the saltier side.
Berry Pulao is one dish I relished the most; a perfect marriage of flavors, the sweetness of berry, the tenderness of the meat and the subtle spike of spiciness of masala. Must try!
No brownie points for guessing what were the dessert choices. The customary “Lagan nu Custard” was scooped in a bright blue bowl and topped with Charoli (Chironji). It was surprisingly light and airy instead of those cloyingly sweet sugar syrup doused custards. All this while, my friend chose to indulge in Jeeru Aunty’s Toblerone Chocolate Mousse. The desserts sure brought a decadent end to a stellar evening.
SBOW seems like the perfect place to catch up with friends, swaying to the nostalgic music of 80-90s playing in the background whilst savoring a cup of the Local favorite Irani Chai or Pheteli Coffee and Nan Khatai.
The staff has it’s Bawagiri quotient on point with quick service and the food is up to the mark. Block your calendars and make your way to this now modern era of a café.
I was hosted by SBOW however as always the opinions and all the pictures are my own!