Bombay Coffee House (Bandra, Mumbai)

Bombay Coffee House speaks to the lowest and must repugnant forms of middle class nostalgia in the city. Hazy black and white photos of Dhabawallas and street Paanwallas adorn the roughly plastered walls. You might argue this is a celebration of the unsung heroes of Bombay, but as Alan Bennett reminds us the best way to forget is through remembrance. Such tributes are a way to forget the plight and struggle of millions in the city. The heavily varnished wooden park bench style seating which stretches across the café also looks more apt for a memorial dedication over conviviality.

If the aim was nostalgia, the food did little to evoke pleasurable memories of years gone by. In fact, when Masala Chai is made from an “instant mix” (the waiter informs me), it can only be South from then on.

The French toast was soggy (perhaps held too long in the egg mixture or not cooked on a hot enough griddle?) and the thin slices of bread were akin to those 30 INR Linking Road sandwich stand specials. When will owners understand, the restaurant market is hyper-competitive: you have to constantly go the extra mile (refer the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen). Give me doorstop slices of bread, fried in lashings of butter, and a dusting of icing sugar. In short, do anything but remain in the mass of mediocrity.

The English Breakfast, some scrambled egg and two greasy hash browns, was equally unimpressive. Any vegetarian sausages? No! Maybe some mushrooms on the side or a fried tomato would have been par for the course but this dish was as plain Jane as they come. The least English part of the breakfast was probably the best: the croissant. Congratulations for finding a decent supplier of flaky buttery croissants.

The Veg Burger again was an ode to the mundane. Perhaps a few fries on the side might have been welcome? Ooh or maybe a little pot of coleslaw if we really wanted to push the boat out? No, none of it. A veg patty in a bun with some thinly sliced uncured tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. Marvellous.

Let me reiterate the message loud and clear, the market is competitive. Yes restaurants may be able to ride a wave of initial euphoria but after that dies, so do these types of establishments. Where’s the niche? Where’s the extra mile service? Where’s the greatness?

Bombay Coffee House has none and as such I refuse to associate myself or dispose of hard earned cash here.

“Pompous” I hear you cry.

“Low standards”, the truth replies.

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