Read what we think of the latest addition gastronomical delights
The Irani Café charm
If you are part of a generation that hangs out at American-style cafes and didn’t have grandpas who narrated stories of Yazdani, Kyani or Bastani, then you should visit SBOW. Once upon a time simple, quaint and quirky cafes, run by Irani and Parsi families, ruled the corners of the crowded by-lanes of Bombay. Sabina and AD Singh’s SBOW is a modern avatar of these cool joints from the yore. The place has the quintessential elements of Irani cafés – the bun maska, the Irani chai, a counter with cookies and toffees in old-style jars and the famous rules board with diktats for its patrons, like ‘No Flirting’, ‘No Combing Hair’, No Feet On The Chair’, etc.
The eclectic decor
Usually Irani / Parsi cafes were sparsely decorated, but it had novel features like bent wooden chairs and marble top tables, checkered red table cloths, chandeliers, patterned flooring, etc. that made it aesthetically unique from other eateries. Sabina has retained the archetypal design essence of an Irani joint in SBOW, but spruced it with eclectic elements like a jukebox, old photo frames, old-style posters, a wall with niches decorated with Banta bottles (old-style soda bottles), a vintage phone, an Enfield bike, chipped stain glass, et al. Add to that the food and beverages are served in old-fashioned steel and aluminium plates and dabbas, cutting chai glasses, Yera-style dessert bowls and vintage-style bottles.
Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlets
SBOW is a tribute of sorts to the Irani/Parsi café culture and serves traditional favourites of these joints like Bun Maska, Berry Pulao, Naan Khatai, Lagan Nu Custard and Aloo Aunty’s vegetable cutlets (popular in Parsi neighbourhoods), but the menu also boasts of famous street foods of Mumbai. In starters, you can order the typical vada pav, Bombay’s famous rasta sandwich and crunchy kanda bhaji, sans any fancification, to satiate your cravings for Bambaiya bites. Main course and desserts too are a mix of Irani / Parsi and Mumbai’s street gastronomical delights.
The Chota Recharge
Alcoholic to non-alcoholic to chai to coffee, SBOW has many drinks to quench your thirsty throats. What caught the attention was The Chota Recharge, a refreshing basil and sitaphal drink served in a homeopathy syrup bottle, and Rustom Bantawala, a heady concoction of fresh mango and vodka served in a Banta bottle. Apart from the interesting mixes, it is the wackily title of the drinks like Bawaji Nu Thullu, Jimmy Boy, Masala Vodka and more that will definitely catch your fancy. Of course, there’s the traditional Irani / Parsi beverages like Falooda, Sekanje Bin, Raspberry Soda, Parsi Choy and Pheteli Coffee too.
SBOW is juxtaposition of an Irani Café and a Mumbai street stall, and thankfully the food and drinks at the hip set-up aren’t overpriced. A regular vada pav is priced at Rs. 70, a plate of kanda bhaji costs Rs. 145, a wholesome vegetable Dhansak is priced at Rs. 415, Irani Special Chai is Rs. 60 a glass, so you get the drift, eating and drinking here won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
If you want a quick peek into the life and food of Iranis, Parsis and Mumbaites, visit Soda Bottle Openerwala and come back with a tummy full.
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