There was no Smoke House when I moved into Bandra about 15 years back. The go to place for Continental then in Bandra was Pot Pourri. This was before even Out of The Blue and the now closed Shatranj Napoli opened.
Incidentally Pot Pourri doesn’t exist anymore. It had been replaced by Lemon Grass, now called, Lemon Leaf, the owners are the same.
Bandra has always been a hot spot for eating. When I moved in here, places like Lucky, Saybaa, Tava, Stomach, Toto’s, Mini Punjab, Janta were legendary and were even used as landmarks. Then, as the years went by, I discovered Hearsch, Candies, Mc Craig, American Express, Khane Khas, Snack Shack, Candies and Punjab Sweets.
Bandra those days was not as much of a hot spot as it is now. We would head to South Mumbai to have a good time in the late 1990s.
Things began to change with the turn of the century. The geography of Mumbai saw a transformation. The action began to move from the south to the suburbs. Suddenly Bandra became the place to come to, what Colaba once was, with folks from the suburbs coming to Bandra to have a good time.
Despite burgeoning rent costs, new restaurants, pubs and lounges began to open here. Some standalone like The Bagel Shop, Gostana and Between Breads. Others like Mainland China, Mamagoto, Royal China, Indigo Deli, Smokehouse Deli are backed by corporate muscle and are parts of chain restaurants.
It is not uncommon to see restaurants shutting down in Bandra. The ones that hurt most were Mocha Mojo and recently Gloria Jean’s next to home. Part of the cycle I guess.
The Bandra legends are the ones that continue to thrive, run by passionate restaurateurs. Most are independent operations. The owner’s involvement and love showing in the quality of what is dished here. These are places that have fed Bandra’ites for years. Local favourites. Not necessarily having the panache to pull crowds from outside. Some are hidden gems, some well known, all places we Bandraites are very possessive about.
I have spent a large part of my time in Bandra around Pali Naka and Turner road. An area that has traditionally been dotted with small and very popular eateries. Places that are a part of the fabric of Bandra. Restaurants that have been a part of my life in Mumbai and in Bandra. This is where I plan to take you in the walk.
So here's the plan for the Legends of Bandra Finely Chopped Walk.
We have to stop at Candies of course. All my Bandra food walks start there. More importantly, Candies @ McRonnel, is where I head every morning to work over a cup of very robust cappuccino and some lovely sandwiches and eggs. Candies is one of those places where they treat me like family and it is almost like a second home to us. Here we will start the walk over a little adda where we get to know each other over high tea. Candies is run by Allan Pereira, a Goan, who named the place after his daughter, Candice. It is a bit of an urban legend as first timers find it hard to navigate. The walk will serve as a good introduction to Candies.
Chaat in the evening is always a good idea and in Mumbai ragda pattice, sev puri and bhel puri rule. If street food makes you squeamish then Bandra offers you options. One of these is Punjab Sweets, run by the Gulati family, where we will head for chaats and maybe some hot jalebis if that catches your fancy. I used to come here for years to pick up a samosa and some jalebis to have with my morning coffee when I used to live opposite the shop. The chaats at Punjab Sweets have been a high point of my Bandra walks in the past.
High tea and chaats done it will be time to head into dinner. The first stop will be Parsi. While one normally associates Parsi restaurants with South Mumbai, Asmick bucked the trend by opening Snack Shack at Pali Naka a decade and a half back. My late grandmother in law was a big fan of the sali boti and patrani machhi here and my wife loves the sali per eendu. My mom in law loves the prawn pulao and my late father in law loved the club sandwiches. No Bandra food walk of mine would be complete without stopping at this Parsi restaurant which has been approved by the Parsi side of my family. Sali boti and sali per eendu are what we will try here.
Our last stop is at a place which Bandraites have reached out to while looking for home like food for a quarter of a century. Khane Khas, a Punjabi Dhaba, set up by friends who were once fresh out of catering college and were tired of working for others in the hotel business. They sit at the counter every day, answer the phone themselves, their personal touch makes the experience magical. I have had people from Punjab and Delhi stop at Khane Khas on my walks earlier and bless the food as ‘authentic’. Here we will try the tandoori chicken and black daal which the friend who first took me to Khane Khaas 15 years back ordered. I am sure you too will feel the love just as countless other Bandraites.
Date: 1st November 2014 , Saturday
Timing: 7 pm to 10.00 pm
Start Point: Candies at Mc Ronells, Pali Naka.
Things to get: Camera, phone, hand sanitizer, a big appetite, shopping bags
Planned food stops: Around 4
Inclusions: Stops at some of my favourite restaurants and cafes. Places I have eaten at ever since I first came to Bandra. Mix of cuisines and communities … Parsi, Goan Catholic snacks, Punjabi and North Indian. We will space out the food to make sure that you don’t miss out on any dish. Bottled water included. Not soft drinks. Eating will be at the participant’s risk. No responsibilities on the food. The ‘walk’ will cover the lanes around Bandra’s Pali Naka.
Cost: Rs 2500 per head (inclusive of food tastings)
Write in at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @finelychopped or write to me at the Finely Chopped Facebook page. Given limited seats please don’t change your minds.
See you next Saturday in my Bandra.
Here’s what happened in the last Bandra Legends Finely Chopped Walk