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Tribute to Irani Cafes

A quirky name, a decor to match, fairly authentic flavours and a surge of nostalgia. SodaBottleOpenerWala, the new Parsi restaurant in the city, has everything going for it

Published: 20th May 2015 06:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2015 06:01 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: With nankatais and other bakery items being sold in barni over the counter in the courtyard and interiors marked with wooden chairs, red and white checkered and crochet table clothes, framed pictures of Parsis and famous Irani Chai Cafes of old Bombay, tinted glasses, coloured glass lamps, dome lights, brass kettles, dabbas, boards with eccentric messages like ‘No Talking to Cashier’, ‘No Wasting Food’ or ‘No Flirting’ on signature blackboards. The jukebox gives the feel of an old world charm mixed with the right amount of humour and idiosyncrasies integral to the Irani Cafes of Bombay - an important part of the cultural history of Mumbai which are unfortunately fading out rapidly. Located in Jubilee Hills, the restaurant is ‘a tribute to the dying legacy of the Bombay Irani Cafes’. It is a venture of the Olive Group by AD Singh and his partners Shiraz Mirza and Shaaz Mehmood.

“SodaBottleOpenerWala is a concept restaurant with a bar. For my wife Sabina and me, Mumbai is an integral part of the journey of our lives. The Bombay Irani cafe is a rich part of the Mumbai tapestry, and sadly, a dying legacy. We delved deep within its unique world to bring alive the nuances- both for cuisine and its atmosphere. The familiarity of Irani cafe is key to the experience and Sabina brought that canvas to life,” says AD Singh, the MD of Olive Group, summarising the concept behind the venture.

Reminiscing about his life in Mumbai, Singh talks about how the place got its interesting name, he says, “Parsis often have surname related to their trade. When I was growing up in Mumbai, I knew a person with surname Haathikhanewala which was a source of constant humour for us. So the name SodaBottleOpenerWala draws its inspiration from that.”

Parsi classics

Coming to the food, the menu includes a prefect balance of classic Parsi dishes and the street foods of Mumbai. While Parsi classics like dhansak (mutton cooked with lentils and served with brown caramelized rice and kachumber) or patra ni machhi (pomfret steamed with chutney of coconut and mint) are obvious choices from the cuisine, dishes like Bombay raasta sandwich or bheendi bazaar sheekh paratha has Bombay written all over it. The Irani bakery menu consists of classic delights like berry and badam nankatais, mawa cake or lagan nu custard.

Pheteli Coffee (coffee and sugar beaten together for a frothy consistency), raspberry soda or parsi choy from the Irani Chai bar completes the experience. The place also has a bar that will be operational from July.

After Gurgaon, Delhi and Bangalore AD Singh, is expecting a warm response from the denizens as well. “The food here is mostly Indian, which has the potential to reach all the cities in the country and even abroad. Hyderabad was an obvious choice since Olive Bistro & Pub gives us a significant presence in the city and a good understanding of its people who are well travelled and curious about new cuisines,” he says.

With a lively vibe and good food, SodaBottleOpenerWala has all the potential to attract the foodies to the place who are either chased by the nostalgia of Irani cafes or are keen to take the first bite of the legacy.

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