Mumbai’s legendary dining institutions: From Ballard Estate to Metro


What makes a restaurant, an institution? Is it the customers, the heirloom recipes, the location, the chef, his team, the ingredients, the founding family, the passion with which the food is made or all of the above? Below is a list of five South Mumbai eateries that meets the checklist and serves everything from tandoor cooked fish and Persian berry-spiked pulavs to ice cream sandwiches and lobster Thermidor.   

Feeding Mumbai since 1923
A few pointers before your lunch: a) Arrive early, before 12.30 pm b) Come hungry c) Bring a large group and, d) Order one of everything. Start with raspberry soda and play the, “Parsi is raspberry, and raspberry is Parsi. Are you Parsi? Then you get raspberry!” game with owner, Boman Kohinoor. And remember that while you should sample the cutlets, sali boti, dhansak with brown rice and bread, you ought to save some space for their berry pulav. This ‘tweaked’ Persian import was perfected by Kohinoor’s late wife using a generous dusting of sweet ruby red berries (zereshk). It’s best sealed off with a pot of misthi doi or caramel custard.

Britannia & Co Restaurant, Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Fort, +91 22 22615264. 11.30 am to 4 pm. Closed on Sundays

Feeding Mumbai since 1956
For most Mumbaikars, their first taste of New York’s Waldorf salad, France’s lobster Thermidor and au gratins, Turkey’s doner kebabs and England’s tartar sauce came out from the kitchens and into the marble-lined interiors of Mumbai’s favourite fine dining restaurant. Today, you’ll find everyone from tourists to couples and college students to suits eating indoors ― surrounded by art, ornate drapes, sparkling chandeliers and embossed crockery ― or grabbing a quick bite from their well-stocked and priced bakery with adjoining al fresco dining area.

Gaylord, Mayfair Building, VN Road, Churchgate, +91 222 33716043. 12 noon to 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm

Feeding Mumbai since 1953
Think of consuming a K. Rustom’s ice cream sandwich as a right-of-passage experience, served in an ancient ice cream parlour that harks back to a time filled with sticky fingers and sweet Parsi smiles. Begin by peeling back ― not off. You’ll need the paper for drippings later ― the butter paper. Continue by lapping the frozen but briskly melting ice cream brick, which is sandwiched between two light-as-air wafer biscuits. Once you’ve calculated whether the cold log will hold or not, bite your way through the island city’s favourite crispy-cold treat. Repeat.

Rustom Ice Cream, 87, Stadium House, opposite Ambassador Hotel, Churchgate, +91 22 22821768. 9.30 am to 11 pm

Feeding Mumbai since 1904
For a taste of antiquated Bombay, head to Mumbai’s most-beloved Irani joint. Mirrored walls, rickety wooden chairs, high ceilings, vintage clocks, broken weighing scales, chipped mosaic flooring and chequered table tops. Kyani & Co may stand still in time but it allows you to watch the ever-changing Mumbai go by. Puritans may bemoan the loss of Bastani & Co across the road, the rest of us often pay visiting homage to the city’s oldest and operating Irani eatery by ordering the most-ordered orders: bun maska with Irani chai, scrambled eggs, bread pudding, khari and kheema. Once here, take a look at their bakery section, for granny-style sweet and savoury confections.

Kyani & CO, JSS Road, Jer Mahal Estate, opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, +91 22 30150864. 7 am to 8 pm

Feeding Mumbai since 1991
Once upon a few years ago, Trishna was the only eatery in this previously quite Kala Ghoda lane. Recent visitors may have found themselves in centre of a slice of culinary mecca. Legend has it, Trishna started off by being a cramped quarter-system bar that served some great coastal cuisine. It was soon coined the ‘best seafood restaurant’ in the city, with a butter garlic crab so good that it is almost as legendry as the restaurant. We feel, it’s a little pricey and overrated but there’s a fail-safe order: 1) Hyderabadi dal (slightly spicy lentils) 2) prawns Koliwada (batter-fried prawns) and, 3) fresh fish in Hyderabadi-style (fish barbecued with a cake of coarsely ground pepper). A word from the wise, stick to the coastal cuisine brief, unless you like flirting with a colour-masked disasters.

7, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, +91 222 22703213. 12 noon to 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm to 12 midnight.

Photo Credit: Britannia- Maria Khatri &, Trishna-


After attending culinary school Jharna Thakkar baked brownies for Riyaaz Amlani's Mocha and tossed pasta for Rahul Akerkar's Indigo before tucking away her whites to take on the keyboard as an F&B reporter/editor at the Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, Time Out India and the Times of India. She currently portions her time into eating, drinking, travelling, inventing marinades for Sunday BBQs and freelance writing.

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