The best part about Mumbai is that I can take a nice walk silently down the road, soaking up the culture still be amazed by how much the city has to offer. My favorite destination has been the effervescent and yet surprisingly blissful walking down Fort area. It was one of those times when a stroll down the elegant Ballard Estate, the business end of Mumbai gave way to it’s prized possession. A cheery red and white signage, paints peeling off the walls and yet a long line flowing onto the boulevard and you’ve arrived at Britannia And Co.
Luckily I had reached early before the tourist, office goers, visiting Parsis filled up the restaurant and took a quiet table at the doorway. The cheerful Mr. Boman Kohinoor was at the entrance chatting up with the guests that were slowly trickling in and winding his way around the tables too. The high-point of visiting Britannia is actually catching with Mr. Kohinoor at times. A devout Anglophile, almost pushing 92 years, Mr. Boman Kohinoor is an encyclopedia of stories to catch up on. Some of his views are passé about the colonial times spent under the Raj but it reflects the mutually co-operative understanding the Parsis and the British enjoyed. After all it took Rashid Kohinoor, the founder of Britannia only 24 hours to get his F&B license on the condition that he give his café an anglicized name.
The waiter took my order as Mr. Boman came over to my table to enquire if all was good. He takes his time to explain the dishes on his menu to the first-timers. My order was for the Chicken Berry Pulav. Move over Biryani, coz when at Britannia, then the Berry Pulav is a must have. Many label Britannia & Co. to be over-hyped. But at a time when many Parsi eateries have closed shop, Britannia and Co. stands tall because it serves the best on a plate.
The Berry Pulav is made of light fluffy rice mingled with chicken breast and chicken mince balls mixed with delicately spiced gravy topped off with the little red jewels. They pay special attention to the ingredients they use like the berries or barberries for the Berry Pulav, as they are especially imported from Iran and is actually a cross between pomegranate and cranberries explains Mr. Boman Kohinoor.
As I had my Berry Pulav and sipped on my Spiced Ginger Pallonji’s Soda, I couldn’t help noticing the sagging cardboard cut-out of Prince William and Princess Kate which adorned the end of the balcony. There is so much more to the food at Britannia and Co. The amazing Salli Boti, Patrani Machi and loads of Egg dishes are hard to resist. There’s a no nonsense nostalgia to the menu itself too. But the Puddings at any Parsi café are an old-fashioned affair. The Caramel Custard is brilliance in a bowl and a must try. Not too sweet and floating on a bed of burnt caramel, I couldn’t have asked for a better dessert.
A visit to Britannia and Co. isn’t just about the food but also about the heritage it carries on it’s shoulders. Right from the nifty little chats with Mr. Boman Kohinoor to the flaking pastel paint and whiteboards on the walls to the antique clock ticking away in the middle of the restaurant, the place is overrun with so much history. Britannia & Co. truly is an iconic place.
Address : Britannia & Co. Restaurant, Ballard Estate, Opp New Custom House, Mumbai
TEL:022 2261 5264
Hours: 11:30 am – 4:00 pm
They do not accept Credit and Debit Cards. Payment mode is cash only.