Does the new Grandmama's Cafe hint at the beginning of a change in Dadar's restaurant landscape?

Grandmama's Cafe, Dadar, on a wet Mumbai night

We were at Grandmama's Cafe in Dadar a few rainy nights back. The restaurant is located at the ground floor of the Pritam Hotel  which is also famous for Pritam da Dhaba and is located close to Dadar Station on the east side.

The place was packed on a Sunday night. My mother in law, who lives close by, says the restaurant usually is. We couldn't get a table in the section inside. It was rather cold there possibly because it was raining outside and the lights were bright and harsh. We sat in the outside section which felt more buzzy and warm than the inside one. By 'we', I mean my wife (K) and my mother in law. The friendly staff offered us bigger tables closer to the road but we preferred to sit near the main restaurant wall  as that seemed more private. It was pouring outside and this made it fairly cool and pleasant. Otherwise I hate paying top dollar to sit in non-airconditioned sections in Mumbai's restaurants as they get muggy, dusty and noisy.

Mother and daughter bonding time
The inside section didn't seem as warm
though it was packed (a table had just got empty)

Dadar in central Mumbai is the home to the city's Maharashtrian community. It's an important commercial junction as the Dadar train terminus is there, a depot for long distance buses and lot of small independent family run shops selling everything from saris to hardware. It is more of a traditional area than a trendy one.

It has quite a few classic and very popular restaurants here. Most of these have been here for a while and are family run. There are hardly any modern restaurants, pubs or cafes in Dadar unlike in say a Bandra or a Versova.

Apart from Aaswad, Prakash, Sindhudurg mentioned in the post above, there are also restaurants such as Gypsy Chinese where my wife, a Dadar girl, used to go to for celebratory events such as birthdays while growing up. Gypsy has a vegetarian Marathi restaurant too that Maharashtrians are pretty fond of. Then there is Chetan Bar from where my in laws would call for a rather sweet butter chicken, that I quite liked, when we visited them. There was also Ashok Bar from where they would call for delicious and large chilli garlic prawns which were for special occasions as they were expensive. My mom in law said that they used to go to Great Punjab too. When it comes to seafood, places like Gomantak (Goan Hindu food) and Malvani Katta (coastal Maharashtrian) are local favourites which I am yet to go to. 

The vibe at Grandmama's Cafe seemed different from that in the traditional restaurants I spoke of. The crowd was younger. There were a few family groups too. The food on offer, the design of the cafe and even the people diners would make you thing that you were in a suburb like Bandra or Versova. 

Open air kitchen and the outside section

The menu at Grandmama Cafe is built on the concept of home favourites and offers classic Indian/ Mumbai, Italian and Parsi dishes with plating that is hardly esoteric. 

The profusion of Parsi dishes on the menu intrigued me and I wondered if the owners are Parsi. There is a small Parsi settlement close by called Dadar Parsi Colony or 5 Gardens. On asking the wait staff, I found out that the owners are Punjabi and not Parsi. They apparently are the folks who run the Pritam hotel. Therefore the Parsi motif is just a theme here, like it is with Soda Bottle Opener Wala which is not owned by a Parsi either.

I missed my late father in law at Grandmama's Cafe. We would all go together to eat at restaurants in Bandra, when he was with us. Eating out as a family was our thing. In fact the first time I met my to be in laws was in a cafe. The now shut Just Around The Corner at Churchgate where he happily munched on a ham and cheese sandwich, his favourite dish, while my mother interrogated me.

At the end of our evenings out he would look at my mom in law and say, 'mummy hamara Dadar main yeh sab nahin hain, sirf kapda kapda kapda' (Dadar doesn't have trendy restaurants like Bandra does, just clothes shops)'.

My late father-in-law at a family dinner
in Mainland China Bandra

If he was alive, he would have been happy to have seen Grandmama Cafe opposite his home in Dadar, and the profusion of sandwiches, like I earlier said, his favourite dish in the whole wide world, on the menu.

Read: My tribute to my late father in law

K has fond memories of having ham sandwiches with her dad at a place called Farmer Brothers in Dadar which is now shut. She also used to look forward to the huge jalebis he would bring from nearby Damodar sweets to eat. And Chocobars. One for him. One for her.

Coming back to the present, we decided to go for a chicken curry and rice plate with extra pav on the side which mother and daughter said they would share. 

Having had a heavy paratha and samosa, perfect in the rains but heavy on the tummy, breakfast at Khar Social earlier followed by a mutton dhansak lunch at home, I didn't want anything Indian for dinner. I chose an orange infused green tea (no alcohol or chamomile or deca cappuccino here) and a tenderloin and bacon burger. I told them that I wanted my burger grilled  medium rare and not overdone.The waiter was unfazed and looked like he knew what I wanted.

As it turned out later, he did.

They got me the tea and then the chicken curry soon. The curry was exactly like a home cooked curry. The girls liked it. I tasted a bit of the curry with the rice and thought it was quite grandma like too. It was not oily or spicy. The chicken was cooked right and not tough. The curry was onion based and could have been Punjabi or Parsi or other words, quite universal and simple. It was not coconut heavy unlike in the Malvani and Gomantak joints in Dadar or in many of its Parsi homes

chicken curry and rice

Things got a bit scatty after that unfortunately as there was no sign of my burger for a long long time. Which became a bit awkward as my mom in law didn't want to eat till my food came. She got hyper thinking I was hungry, which I was not, and asked me to have the chicken curry, which I just didn't want to.

This is why food should be brought together to a table. People whose food are brought first wonder whether they should eat or wait for the others. The others wait hungrily and end up eating some of the food at the table which was not of their choice to start with. If its a family group its still manageable but gets very problematic if its a social or professional gathering.

We kept asking various waiters about my order and they would say "in 5 minutes'and disappear. Seeing my mom in law get agitated, in desperation I said 'get me a shwarma instead'.

Meanwhile a group of people who came after us got burgers while we waited. K asked the waiters how this happened and they said those were veg burgers and apparently cook faster.

A considerable amount of time after the chicken was served, and finished, came the burger.

Excellent tenderloin burger at Grandmama's Cafe

And the burger was worth the wait! The tenderloin buffalo meat patty was juicy and not chewy at all. It spoke of good quality meat and cheffing expertise. The patty was seasoned perfectly, packed with flavour and combined well with what seemed like a cheese sauce. You didn't need to add any ketchup or anything. The bun was very good and not crumbly at all unlike in Burger King burger. The only negative was that the bacon promised in the menu was a bit sparse and a fried too crisp but that apart, this was a delicious burger. The size was just right for one and not overwhelming. Cost around Rs 350 I think.

Superb stuff

Overall, both the dishes were pretty nice. Service had good intent but the planning could have been better. They later told me that the chicken curry is kept ready and is quick to serve while the burger takes more time. I buy that as even the very good burger that we had at Rouge Bis in Paris had taken a while too be prepared. You can't rush your grandmom. Maybe they could have warned us that the burger would take a while and we would have decided accordingly or been prepared. These are service issues which can be worked on and I think the cafe is pretty new.

Look of joy on my mother in law's face when I finally got my food

It would be safe to say that the three of us enjoyed our evening at Grandmama's Cafe.

At Rs 950 odd for 1 tea, 1 chicken curry rice, 2 pav (Rs 40!) and a tenderloin burger, not only vibe, but the pricing was quite Bandra too!

Going by the packed tables at Grandmama it looks like folks in Dadar seemed to have been waiting for a place like this. I wonder if this is the start of more cafes and moderns bistros coming up in Dadar or whether this is a flash in the pan. If it is, and which is fine, I hope that that the Dadar classics are not discarded.

Life is about balance after all

Note: We went to the branch at Pritam Hotel. I am told there is one more at Kamla Mills and that they are planning ones in Juhu and Colaba


Siddharth Moghe said…
for something around Hindu colony and khodad circle , the place looks decently spaced out.

i was assuming this to be near ideal book corner and was pleasantly surprised it was so spacious. The other side of tilak bridge does look a little less cramped.

made for a good post lunch friday read !

Kalyan Karmakar said…
Thanks Siddharth. Glad you liked it. Seems like you are quite familiar with dadar