The Bombay Canteen (Lower Parel, Mumbai)

“I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it. But as the priceless treasure too frequently hides at the bottom of a well, it needs some courage to dive for it”

The words of a Yorkshire literary great, Ms Anne Brontë, are a rallying cry to greater boldness and greater integrity in the restaurant reviewing world. Many simply have dismissed my frank reviewing style, with one restaurant owner calling a recent review “obnoxious bull****”. Certain friends, with personal connections at the restaurants I visit, have urged me to tone down my style and say some “nicer things”. Upon snubbing the food at Bombay Canteen, a friend urged me not to write this review, as if somehow it was an act of sheer disloyalty to him and the owner of the place. With that noted and with those “who are able to receive” my truths on my side, I proceed.

The interior of Bombay Canteen is impressive. I do, however, fail to see how the place was once a bungalow, given the sheer size of the building and the height of the ceilings. The furnishings are tasteful, with particular praise to the stone-work enclosures and the long industrial looking windows. It’s all rather effortless and doesn’t have that lofty air of pretence that so many new-age restaurants in the city have. The service is equally impressive. Dishes fly out of the kitchen in record speed and the staff are polite and diligently attend to us.

The food however is the sticking point. Desi Tacos (teplas) were bland. The lump of refried rajma (kidney beans) was about as exciting as watching Arun Jaitley discussing the national deficit (“oh I look forward to that” I hear every budding Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Uncle say) or if you prefer in more common parlance, about as interesting as watching paint dry. The Jowar and Barley salad my dining companion ordered was passable, but both barley and jowar (sorghum) are pretty unexciting at the best of times and a brave inclusion on a supposedly innovative menu.

The cauliflower in the cashew sauce was the best dish by a small margin. The cauliflower was fresh and well cooked in a flavourful sauce. Overall though it was just too acidic for my liking and the presentation – a whole head of cauliflower -looked rather inelegant. The crispy seviyan ring also added nothing to the dish, except irritation in trying to break it. The Gulab Nut desert was well executed, but just too bitter for my taste buds (more a case of personal preferences I suppose). The masala coke I ordered on the side was another affair I couldn’t handle. I have enjoyed many a roadside masala coke but this small glass tumbler was over-loaded with masala and salt and regrettably, I couldn’t finish it.

To use Bronte’s words….do not expect any priceless treasures to be found here.

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