There’s a massive sign inside the yet-to-be-opened SodaBottleOpenerWala in Bandra Kurla Complex. It reads: ‘No flirting’, ‘no gossiping’, ‘no outside food’, ‘no feet on chair’. We suggest you don’t take it too seriously. For this isn’t Kyani and Co, or Koolar, or your typical Bombay Parsi Café. This is AD Singh’s ode to the typical Bombay Parsi Café. In case you don’t know who Singh is (you don’t get out much, do you?), he’s the restaurateur behind the celebrity-favourite hangout, Olive Bar & Kitchen.
Singh’s already running four SodaBottle… (too long a name; it’s a good thing we acronym-ise everything these days, so we’ll call it SBOW). So, Singh’s already running four SBOWs – in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Hyderabad. This is the fifth, and, perhaps, the biggest test. For the other cities, it is a taste of Mumbai’s Parsi cafes. Here, everyone will compare it to the real thing.
So, then, let’s compare it to the real thing.
The décor has elements borrowed from Parsi cafes – bentwood chairs, glass-top tables, the dessert display box – and things which are deliberately exaggerated – cutting chai glasses are light fixtures and an actual motorcycle (Parsis infamously keep their motorbikes indoors). The staff even has designated name tags – ‘daruwala’ for the bartenders, ‘khilanewala’ for the servers.
The drinks menu -- not something a Parsi café will offer (as much as the Parsis love their alcohol) – has cocktails trying hard to stick to the theme. So you have a Jimmy Boy (Jim Beam, pineapple juice, Parsi vinegar) and cocktails in banta bottles. We particularly liked the Parsiana (Old Munk, plum, oranges).
The highlight of the evening was the Chicken Baida Roti – generous filling in a beautiful paratha. It’s oily, as it should be. There are also favourites like Eggs Kejriwal, and an innovative Spicy Mushroom on Khari. Then, there’s the Berry Pulao, which is obviously going to get compared to the supposed gold standard – Britannia and Co’s Berry Pulao. We tried the mutton version. It’s a smaller portion than Britannia’s, but we dare say it really measures up. The Salli Gosht, too, had mutton falling off the bones, though we’d have liked a little more salli on top.
Overall, here’s one restaurant to definitely visit. We’ll have to wait and see and pricing, come Thursday (the Delhi and Bangalore prices vary slightly). We’re certain of paying more than what we would at a Parsi café in SoBo. But, hey, we don’t think the BKC, or the hep suburban, crowd will mind that. And we think even the diehard Bawa will appreciate the alcohol on the menu.
(SBOW opens this Saturday (September 26), and is at the Capital Building (behind ICICI), BKC, Mumbai. Call: 40035678; sodabottleopenerwala.com)