People who are from Mumbai or have ever visited Mumbai, must have heard about this very famous Parsi Cafe- ‘Britannia & Co.’, which is located in the heart of the city, Mumbai. Well having heard about this place and especially about the very famous and sweet owner, I visited the place with few of my friends, as we were given an assignment to make a 10mins documentary on the restaurants opened before Independence. So, one just cannot miss this little Irani cafe tucked into bylane of Ballard estate, it is unknowingly the most famous restaurant and well-loved restaurant in Mumbai.
In the world of midnight cafes, Wi-Fi enabled restaurants with quirky and modern decor- well, this place has none of them. And I think that’s the beauty of this place and the thing that sets it apart. There’s nothing so modern as ac, wifi or anything, yet there’s something special and refreshing about walking into this cafe with peeling paint, old fans whirr high above, and not to miss is the black chairs and checkered red table cloth, which is imported from Poland. It’s a highly recommended place for those visiting Bombay, hoping to get an authentic flavour of the city, and the dying breed of authentic Parsi food cafes that were hugely popular at one time.
Now meet Mr.Boman Kohinoor, the charming owner who makes the Brittania café more popular with his stories. As we went there for our assignment and with a purpose of interviewing and to know more about the place, we prepared a questionnaire before hand, but one thing I realised after meeting Boman uncle is that you don’t really need to ask him anything. He is a born storyteller. He loves speaking to diners, telling his stories and anecdots. He opened up a lot of stories behind the Parsi Cafe.
Mr.Boman Kohinoor holding his picture with Prince William and Kate Middleton
For the international visitors, and especially someone from Britain, lunch at Britannia & Co. comes with an added bonus. He’s a worshipper of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. You’d find him on his feet everyday, he’ll come to you and while your order is being taken he’ll show you his treasure of letters he has received on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and cuttings and write ups from all over about his restaurant, that he has carefully collected over numbers of years and has got it laminated. He loves sharing his stories with his customers.
And now coming to Britannia’s food, which is inspired by Mr.Boman’s Parsi wife, they began serving Parsi and Iranian dishes, and the dishes are so famous that people from all over the world take parcels of their favourite dishes back to their home countries.Well vegans would be little disheartened, as there is very little varieties for vegans to eat. So, me being an eggetarian couldn’t taste their popular dishes. But as recommended by Mr. Boman himself and having read about it my friends tried their few popular dishes.
The Signature Berry Pulao– That’s the signature dish of the restaurant, which is made using a secret family recipe, and the berries used in this dish are imported from Iran.
Other than this the other favourites include Sali Boti– which is covered with fried matchstick potatoes and also their Lentil Dhansak is a must try too. And then to complete your meal, they have caramel custard which is another very popular thing here, but we didn’t try that, but it’s very much popular.
Berry Pulao(left) and Sali Boti(right)
And as we went there at about 10am or 12pm as I roughly remember, the place was relatively empty so we got the full attention of the owner and it’s an absolute must experience. One should visit this place before it gets shut down, as Mr.Boman mentioned that his sons are not really interested in this business, so if they get a good deal they might just sell it off. So do make a visit to this legendary place people!!
A pic with the Legend himself!!