Bombay Canteen is unique. It has the vibe and charm of Mumbai that was existent decades ago. Much has been talked and written about it across different media. So, why Bombay Canteen this winter? Is it hyped or is it really worth the experience? Bombay Canteen, which set up shop 10 months back in Lower Parel, is always full of food connoisseurs since then. A lot of regulars come here for its lip-smacking modern Indian cuisine, with ingredients sourced locally. I loved how bold and fearless the chefs at Bombay Canteen are, when it comes to planning and executing the creative menu. As you taste the first grub here, it is apparent that innovation with passion is what they love to do, and this passion and talent reflects in each dish. Bombay Canteen is inspired by the cuisines of various communities living in Mumbai: be it the Parsis, the Gujaratis, Bengalis, South-Indians or the Maharashtrians. I was happy to see how they respected each ingredient in their dish and interconnected different cuisines in perfect harmony, in order to suit different lifestyles and palates.
Recently, I received an invite from Burrp! and the Food Blogger’s Association of India to review the winter menu at Bombay Canteen, Lower Parel. We were a bunch of Mumbai-based food bloggers. Like the rest of the bloggers, as I read a lot of good reviews about Bombay Canteen earlier, my expectations were very high. “Bombay Canteen” is a place where Mumbaikars take a break from their busy work-life and chill out in the old-Bombay-style restaurant which looks like a canteen with its rustic but stylish and casual decor, and old Bollywood songs makes the whole ambience even more dramatic.
Or maybe, those plain, old bottles of water added to the drama quotient. I just loved the way drinking water was served in those empty-Roohafza bottles! Stained glass everywhere, a rustic bar, printed tiles and a 4,000 sq ft space with an unmatched ambience… I fell in love even before I started the food tasting!
Just the drinks are enough to impress. Coke with coriander leaves? Yes, it happens only in India. My Gujju food bloggers were the first ones to order this mocktail, as it is pretty popular in Gujarat. I did not order this first as I was not sure if I would like it (I don’t like aerated beverages), but when I sipped a little of the Masala Coke, I was a convert. Masala Coke at Bombay Canteen is a beautiful combo of Coke, coriander leaves, chaat masala and kala namak (black salt). Now, if I would ever drink Coke, I would prefer it this way. As I write these lines about this oh-so-Indian Coke mocktail, my soul started craving again for that fun Masala Coke. Guys, believe me, this drink will put most of the cocktails to shame! Among the mocktails, there is the Cinnamon and Curry Leaf Iced Tea, made with Assam tea as the base, and spiked with curry leaves, star anise and lime. It was also a hit among the bloggers, though I felt that the aroma of curry leaves could have been a bit stronger.
The cleverly designed drink menu boasts of very interesting cocktails too. A must-try is the Ganga Jamuna Margarita, which is a refreshing marriage of fresh citrus flavours (Mausambi, orange and lime) combined with Tequila. The Winter Apple Cider Sangria with White wine, fresh apples and Brandy, is okayish.
The lunch menu was divided into Chota (small) and Bada (big). Among the Chota, we tried the Kejriwal Toast first. The staff at Bombay Canteen explained that there was one Mr. Kejriwal who never ate eggs at home. Even in restaurants, he preferred his eggs hidden under sauces, etc., so that no one could make out what he was eating. Soon, people at the adjacent tables started ordering the same dish, saying, “We would like to order what Mr. Kejriwal is eating”. Hence the name, “Kejriwal Toast”, which has a crisp toast as a base, topped with a delectable combination of a single fried egg, melted cheese and green chilli chutney. This simple toast is so good that we ended up ordering three more Kejriwal Toasts!
You must try their Cheesling Bhel. Inspired from the Bengali Jhal Muri, this innovative dish has cheeselings instead of puffed rice. It is mixed with a spicy and pungent touch of kohlrabi, apples and mustard oil dressing. I found this dish truly addictive, with that hit of mustard oil. I can go munching this bhel for hours.
I loved the Smoked Mushroom Seekh. The mushrooms were just melt-in-the-mouth soft, like a Galouti. The smokiness of the dish was just perfectly matched with a sweet and spicy garlic chutney. I have never had a mushroom seekh so delicious! I would love to become a vegetarian, just for the love and respect for Smoked Mushroom Seekh from Bombay Canteen. Who wants meat, when vegetarian food tastes better than that?
There was spicy Chettinad Chicken Desi Tacos, which was so filling and full of flavour. I was amazed to see desi Gujarati methi thepla replacing the tacos shells. The Chettinad chicken filling complimented the thepla tacos perfectly.
Then the Bada dishes were served. We had Sarson ka Saag, which was simply fantastic! Served with a cornbread, jaggery and a dollop of white butter, this dish reminded me of my childhood winters in Delhi. Do try this dish for sure!
As all of us in the group love Parsi food, the Choriz per Eedu was a much-awaited dish. A yummy preparation of minced meat served in a pan with a soft-cooked egg over it, this dish is best served with pav and potato salli. We lost count of how many Choriz per Eedu we ordered, but one thing which we still remember is that it was extremely comforting on a lovely Saturday afternoon!
The Gajjar Halwa Toffee Pudding was outstanding! Who would have thought that tamarind can be so good in a dessert? I loved their tamarind toffee sauce which was served with the red and juicy candied Delhi carrots and crunchy roasted cashews. This dessert is just the perfect improvisation over the common Gajar ka Halwa. What a twist!
Bombay Canteen is really worth a visit. It is one of those places where I would like to go with my family and friends and highly recommend to my readers. Bombay Canteen’s youthful vibe and a well-planned menu reflects the spirit of Mumbai. It is certainly not hyped! Bombay Canteen is worth the experience.
Address: Bombay Canteen, Unit 1, Process House, opposite Power House, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013.
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