There's nothing like a run to work up a hunger, and long Sunday lunches were therefore perfect excuse for some stuffing. South Mumbai is no longer a place I visit so often any more, so this also seemed like the perfect excuse to visit some old favourites.
The first visit was to satisfy a craving for steak. After a few twists and turns around the block, I squeezed myself into a tight little parking spot in First Pasta Lane and walked. To Paradise.
An unassuming storefront on Colaba Causeway, right across the road from Kailash Kailash Parbat is quaint parsi restaurant that has not changed either its menu or its attitude in decades. Racy pictures on the walls, old men sipping coffee and a long line of deliveries to Cusrow Baug were – I noted - all intact as I sat down to get myself a hearty steak. Unfortunately, power was out. Both air-conditioning and beefsteak was unavailable, but all was not lost. Paradise also serves a mean mutton steak and a very nice salli boti, both of which soon landed up on my plate.
Paradise Special Mutton Steak is a special steak. Its a nice, juicy, tender lump of meat in no particular shape, slathered with a brown onion sauce and topped by these fat potato fries that are so good at absorbing aforementioned sauce that they should come with a warning label. Did I mention there's Russian salad on the side? Salli Boti was equally classic, a beautiful sweet-spicy sauce topped with light, crisp salli – string fries. The only complaint is the size of the portion; even for old Parsi lawyers, this must be bit of a small bite.
And then there was the end. My sweet tooth started asserting itself as the meal neared the finish line, and along came the star of the show - lagan nu custard - by far the best rendering of this Parsi staple around.
Last Sunday, I noticed a new sign on an old place. Hidden behind the rump of Wilson College, on the unglamorous side of Gamdevi's jeweller lane is a place once known more for comfortable beer and pool than food. Cafe New York was all about pool tables and jukebox, a less crowded Mondegar, Wilson girls instead of gori backpackers. I and my friends had long outgrown it (pool was no longer so cool anyway) but when Kedar told me it was now open for decently nice breakfasts there was this small nostalgic twinge.
Cafe New York remains a tiny, narrow, corridor-like space (though I couldn't figure out how to get upstairs to those pool tables) - chequerboard tablecloths covered with the menu and Irani chairs. Keema pao was on the menu, of course, and a plate of it soon landed on my plate – rich and brown, eggs stirred in ghotala style, dhania, bread and those two essentials on the side – diced onions and a fat slice of lime.
Brunch requires more than one dish, so another Irani classic – a chicken-cheese omlet – was kept for the second round. And so it was that a fat, juicy, amul cheese omlet with torn bits of chicken breast added to the count.
Satisfying, this conjunction of calories and nostalgia…