The weight of expectations can be tricky. It comes into play a lot when you’re walking into a film that has been hyped because of good word of mouth. The same applies to bars and restaurants, and I have been only hearing good things about ‘The Bombay Canteen’ for the longest time, but never really got around to visiting the place. The day had finally arrived, thanks to a friend’s birthday party.

I’ve always maintained that I’m a very vibe person, and most of my drinking experiences are heavily influenced by the overall energy that the particular place exudes. The Bombay Canteen ticked that box right from the very moment I stepped into its zone. The weight of expectations suddenly became irrelevant. This became my own personal experience that began to unfold at one of the most talked about drinking spots in town.

I was with a big group of friends, so it meant more fun in store, but it also meant more waiting time. I’d heard a lot about how this place is always overbooked, and it so happened that even a Monday evening didn’t spare us. We had to wait at their rather attractive looking bar, and to be honest, it didn’t feel like the worst thing. In fact, the bar is so beautiful, it induces you like a magnet to go ahead and order a pre-table drink (if I may call it that), which is what some of us did with our Kingfisher pints at INR 190 each.

The bar counter at the bombay canteen image for unsober review
PC: Zomato

After a good 45-minute wait, which didn’t feel that long thanks to the beer and the freewheeling conversations, we finally had our table. The moment we started scanning their menu, the name ‘The Bombay Canteen’ began to make sense. A greater portion of their food items are basically popular roadside Indian snacks that have been twisted to sound, in some cases cool, and in some other cases, just way more appealing. In other cases, they were just Indian sounding dishes that were given a more Indianized spin.

There were just too many on the menu to try, but we settled for a Paav Bhaaji Roll (INR 350), Virar Chicken Bhujing (poha served with chicken @ INR 450) and the Bhutte Ka Kees (INR 275), without having the slightest ideas as to how they would look and taste. They all turned out to be quite the surprise package. We also went for the Maa Ki Dal with Paratha (INR 450) which was an interesting take on the sentimentality attached with home cooked food. The Kerala Fried Chicken (INR 325) made us believe that ‘food porn’ is an actual thing, and the Chettinad Prawns Ali-Yolo (INR 350) was what innovative sea food dreams are made of.

Virar Chicken Bhujing @ The Bombay Canteen

If the food was innovative, the cocktails gave stiff competition. You won’t find the standard cocktails on their menu, which was a refreshing change in itself. The Dark Monsoon (INR 350), a rum based concoction was wonderfully accentuated by ginger and honey. But they have this separate cocktail menu that’s their ode to iconic architectures in Mumbai. The look and feel of each of them are inspired by these architectures. The idea itself is so novel, that it deserves full marks.

Dark Monsoon Cocktail @ The Bombay Canteen image for unsober review
Dark Monsoon Cocktail @ The Bombay Canteen

The Rajjab Mahal (INR 500) came in a very interesting ceramic glass, shaped like a pineapple. It’s a citrusy cocktail that hits with you with its combination of dark, white and spiced rum. My favourite though was the Sea Green Hotel (INR 550), a coffee based whiskey cocktail served in a coffee glass. It’s a delicious drink that stays with you long after you’ve left the place.

Rajjab Mahal @ The Bombay Canteen image for unsober review
Rajjab Mahal @ The Bombay Canteen

This is the kind of place that can make you go on and on ordering, because everyone on that table was sailing on the same boat of fun, and we just didn’t want the night to end. We gave The Bombay Canteen shitload of business that evening, thanks to a happening birthday party and an equally indulgent and enthusiastic group of friends who just wanted to celebrate.

Go prepared to shed some of that balance in your savings account, but know that every penny you spend will be worth it.

Where? Ground Floor, Process House, Kamala Mills Compound, Near Radio Mirchi Office, S.B. Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Cuisine: Modern Indian
Food You Must Try: Chettinad Prawns, Ghee Roast Chicken on Toast
Cocktails You Must Try: Dark Monsoon, Rajjab Mahal, Sea Green Hotel
Is There a Dance Floor? No
Average Price Per Head: INR 1500 Approx.

Header image: Zomato