There's a new sub culture of immigrant food that's influencing the greater culture at large in Mumbai. Every other popping eatery is dishing out risottos, dim-sums and tenderloin steaks while the good old bambaiya food is left to the hands of Darbaars & Sagars of this city. At such a time revival comes in the form of Bombay Canteen; A place that has been making noise on the social media for all the right reasons while gravitating aficionados from all corners of the city.
Industrial ceiling, etched glass, communal tables and vintage patterned tiles; they all unify to give a happy connotation of the bambaiya times from the eighties and nineties. And such is the effect that one can hear retro bolly numbers at the start of the evening. It might be a great idea to catch a table along the perimeter of the place as the center translates to a buzzin pub as the evening progresses. The crew is well informed about the fare on the menu and does timely checks to ensure your experience is what Floyd Cardoz visioned for. Turn around at the kitchen window and you'll spot Head Chef 'Thomas' sporting a Wes Borland facial do and overlooking the activities in the kitchen.
If you're here for lunch then you can order the recently kicked off 'Canteen Tiffin Box', else like us straight away flip to the next page of the menu. We went for the acclaimed 'Seafood Bhel' minus the Calamari. The wet and dry crunch comes from its various ingredients like the tom-sam salad base of julienne Papaya and indian textures from thin sev & raisins while the Prawns play a delightful cameo. The 'Spicy Tamatar & Mungphali Salsa' was a desi rendition of bruschetta while the 'Arbi Tuk' was a neat take on sev puri replacing the usual suspects with spiced dahi, imli chutney and a radish kachumbar. The only criticism here would be the slightly illiberal portion size of the appetizers. The basket of crispy 'Mandeli Fry' was the only long lasting dish from our initial order.
Bada or Main Course is where things get a bit serious. Portions are justified and the flavours are pure tricks of a genius. The delicate 'Scotch Eggs' are now covered with tender kheema and rendered as Nargis Kofta; served on a sauce of cashew & white onion. Uncle's Coconut Curry is a paradigm of culinary excellence. The onion barista & cocunut base combined with slices of lotus stem and lemon grass emit tremendous flavours while the fresh shank meat basks in its glory. As a side order, we went for a pan of light 'Multigrain Khichdi' that came with a hotchpotch made up of pickle raita, bharta, poha, peanuts and mango pickle. The main course here is arguably in the top ranks of this city's culinary scene. No fancy gourmet ingredients, just sourcing of local elements and cooking them well.
Once here it is mandatory to order the 'Masala Chai Popsicle' which has been the most photographed dish of this restaurant since its launch. As much as it is unique and uber cool, it is no comparison to their spicy 'Guava Tan-Ta-Tan' with lal mirch ice-cream. Crack open the filo crust, take some of the guava along with the ice-cream and there'll be a grin on your face.
Bombay Canteen in every capacity is iconic. It more or less represent bambaiya food in a nutshell. There's a space for everyone - romantic conversationalists, social drinkers and silent connoisseurs. It revives some of the lost flavours from the city, charges you a premium and yet leaves you with a sense of joie-de-vivre.
Dial & reserve right now. Kyunki, aap qataar mein hai !