Friday, August 13, 2010
a 'britannic' lunch - berry berry good
"he may live without books-what is knowledge but grieving?
he may live without hope- what is hope by deceiving?
he may live without love-what is passion but pinning?
but where is the man that can live without dining?"
this blog is about mouth watering food and service par excellence from a simple restaurant. hence the above quotation.
"you can call me bemoom or boman or bomi or behuvan or benaan. these are the names by which i am called." thus spoke the octogenarian owner of a south mumbai iconic restaurant when i walked in for the first time early this year with my british customer. i am referring to 'britannia' restaurant situated on the ground floor of wakefield house, ballard estate. my office is on the top floor. the restaurant is always packed at lunch time. and there are always people sitting outside eagerly awaiting for their turn to arrive.
the old man,his brother,the second generation all understand one thing. courtesy. the moment you arrive,they make you feel comfortable. they are all cheerful and enquire what you would like to have. 'britannia' is famous for its berry pulao and the parsee dhansak. when boman irani came to us and asked what we wanted to have,i answered the obvious.i wanted my british friend to have their signature dish. "but you must beat the heat sir first with a cold drink ", he said with a broad smile on his face and then went about taking the order. he was delighted to meet my english customer. boman has a great partiality for the british as the name of his restaurant suggests. he enquired about the queen of england and added "may she live long". i told him that i am a vegetarian. he said he would serve me the "best veg biriyani i would have ever eaten". true to his word,the biryani was delectable.
the iranis as the name suggests are from iran. they still have connections out there. after migrating to india they have become iraninan parsis (zorastrians). they speak in gujerati. they are modest and a bit self-effacing. 'britannia' is neat and clean. furniture is minimal with the old-fashioned square table placed in an angle with four chairs. the table cloth is british gingham. the servers are liveried and speak good english and hindi and are well-mannered.when you are there you feel good.they close shop around 4pm.
when we were about to leave, i asked the old man the secret of his success. i told him that i knew that he imported some ingredients like the berry from iran. "sorry sir, i can't disclose that. that is our trade secret", he said with a chuckle. then he asked my friend to convey his best wishes to the queen. when the cheque arrived and i settled the bill he said "do come again, sir". a friendly person,very affectionate and in peace with himself and his surroundings. a petite cat rests on the reception counter. he encourages children to pet the cat. and they laugh and he laughs with them too.
"there is no love greater than the love of eating". this is the 'britannia' tagline alongwith a hen as their logo.
next time you have some work in fort area, drop in at 'britannia' and enjoy the food and service.