Legend has it that when I was small, I was one of those malnourished sickly kids who never ate a morsel. Cried and starved and made life hell for everybody in a 2 km radius (my neighbour will testify). I detested everything gastronomy-related and when my brother came along, I rediscovered baby food ( Gerber baby food, that’s right) and decided that mashed food in a tiny glass jar was all there was to life. A very content 6 year old, I was . But fate had other plans. On a trip to Thailand I had my first KFC and life was never the same again. I still remember exclaiming, WOAH! WHAT IS THIS! and proceeding to polish off a few more pieces in my new-found excitement for all things fried.
I ate my way through the rest of school and college, never missing a meal, come what may. Vacations were wonderful, from having Hungry Jack’s in Australia to String Hoppers in Sri Lanka, I ate ‘em all. I’ve been blessed with genes which make sure everything I eat accumulates around my gluteus maximus but that never bothered me anyway. Food has been a very integral part of my life and relationships so I think it is only fitting that I mention a few of the places that have played a vital role in shaping me into the person I am today (pun intended).
This is an institution in Dadar and I have very fond memories of this place because my folks took me here after my 10th board exams as a reward. Now, I wanted to go to Zodiac Grill because a friend raved about it and here I was, being carted off to some Indian joint. Needless to say, the food, true to the restaurant’s name, is Punjab on a plate. By the end of that meal, I took back my opinions just like I had to take home some of that fantastic tandoori. Succulent kebabs, constant refills of cheeselings ( the place serves alcohol) and amazing butter chicken. However, this place is a must visit because of this- Chicken Golguppa. Trust a Punjabi to think of something like that (I LOVE YOU, KIND SIRJI). It is probably one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life because it finally combines chicken and chaat in a wonderful marriage topped with some sev. The butter chicken here is very different from the one you find at most places. It is a light orange shade and very mild in taste. Got to try this at least once!
2. Café Firdos
My mother introduced me to this gem of a place after one of our tiring Saturday shopping sessions at Crawford market. After walking through crowded alleys and even more crowded streets, this place is a little oasis in the heart of Crawford Market. It opens after 12.30 pm and serves a variety of Moghlai delicacies. I always thought it was my little secret place but I chanced upon some good people who have also been here and that feeling of fellowship is unmatched. My friends have all been forced to come and check out this place and they have loved it. It’s a no-frills place. Don’t expect top class hygiene and you will leave a happy and content soul not worried about when diarrhoea will strike next.
Their Afghani Chicken and Mutton biryani is to die for. This place is always crowded because of its brilliant service and very low prices. A visit to this place is incomplete without a Malai kulfi at the end. It is a ritual for a friend and I, whenever we go visit. If you ever find yourself in this part of the city on a hot day, drop by for a biryani, pepsi and for some peace of mind.
3. Hotel Ritz
Ever since I was a little girl, My family used to make it a point to attend the Bombay Chamber Orchestra concerts held at the NCPA.. From Brahms to Broadway, it is safe to say that we have been there in full attendance and solidarity for many years now. So after one has guzzled at least 2 glasses of cold coffee and eaten 3 chutney and cheese sandwiches in that 15 minute interval, one must make dinner plans post concert. After all, Verdi does wear you down. Because of no Zomato back in the day, we could almost never get a table at Gaylord’s because all the well heeled folk would already make arrangements, while we poor folk from Wadala used to head to Hotel Ritz in Churchgate. Now it sounds snazzy and quite elite but lately it has been like an old actress decked up to the nines. With no place to go. The restaurant is almost always empty and the staff is more than happy to serve you in all their Old Bombay charm.
They have a fantastic Continental menu here and this food is just sublime. Had my first Chateaubriand steak here and very few experiences in life can compare to that. With this new ban, it might as well be a thing of the past now. Their Chicken Supreme is just the way a chicken steak should be made. Juicy and moist with homemade mayonnaise. This is one city experience that should not be missed. Old world charm, exquisite service and some top notch food, what more could you ask for?
Words by Explorater: Deane de Menezes
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