Monday, February 17, 2014

B.Merwans (Grant Road Mumbai)

A Date with History 

 It was a early Sunday for me. Having slept early the previous night I was thrilled to have woken up at 5 a.m. I love waking up early. I feel fresh, my thoughts are clear and watching the night sky slowly waking up leaves me feeling happy. The other half was participating in some 7km Green run and had left by 4 a.m. and so after a glass of my detox concoction I decided I wanted to download some of my official work and while it was getting downloaded I decided on a sneak peak of my wishlist of restaurants in Bombay since I am due to return to Calcutta in less than a week. On an impulse I was going through B.Merwan's reviews and the first one shocked me. It seemed it was due to close in 42 days. B.Merwan Closing its shutters. I was shocked. 

Alright I did not grow up in Bombay but I grew up in another historic city and I have read enough reviews about this classic eatery which turned a century old this very year. With more and more Parsi diners shutting their doors I feel terrible. When I came to Bombay I immediately fell in love with the history that these Parsi Cafes offer. The solid bentwood chairs, the beautiful marble top tables is more romantic to me than candies and roses. 

It was 5:45 a.m. and I decided I had to immediately get my breakfast from this place which is a witness to history itself. 

So a long train journey later I was stunned with my passion. I have been a visitor of this city for over 1.5 years and have never before mustered courage to change trains at the busiest station of Mumbai and yet I effortlessly pranced from one end to the other. Of course the number of people at 6:15 a.m. overwhelmed me. That can only happen in Bombay. Locating this eatery is really a piece of cake. You get down at Grant station and go to the Eastern side. The shop is right opposite to the station. 

At 7 a.m. it seemed there were at least 200 people buying , shoving, pushing trying to make themselves heard at the counter. I entered and found the place in total chaos. All the tables were taken and I stood there happily stunned when a server rushing by asked me to please enter the inner room and eat my breakfast. Even though he was in a  rush the 'politeness' of his words touched me. 

You have to experience this place with all your senses else you can never ever understand its beauty. There is beauty in those peeling yellow walls in the room where I was seated. As I sat down I wondered how many young lovers might have had their sly romantic tryst sitting on the solid polished bentwood chairs or the beautiful white marble top tables. The two massive mirrors on the walls are pieces of beauty you cannot simply take your eyes off. There was a huge family enjoying their breakfast and that left room for 2 to 3 other parties.

Now there will be no menu provided to you so be sure you check the blackboard in the outer hall listing the items. I simply ordered Scrambled eggs, brun maska , tea and caramel custard. Well this is one joint which actually serves 'bhurji' scrambled eggs and not the special Parsi scrambled eggs, 'Akuri'. While I was breathing in every detail of this iconic place my food arrived within 5 minutes of having ordered it.

Now coming to my food the scrambled eggs were made with green chilies and very few onions but it won me over due to its less salt content. You see the salt and pepper shaker is provided so that you might adjust the salt content as per taste. I declined the bread that comes with the scrambled eggs and instead opted for the brun maska meaning hard bun with butter. This bun has a crispy delightful outer coating and soft fluffy bread freshly baked and slathered with butter. The caramel custard was creamy and good but I have had better ones from other Parsi establishments. The tea is not overly sweet even though it has some amount of sweetness. All this at a mere Rs48 is surely the most economic breakfast you can have. Oh I almost forgot that the scrambled eggs was made with 2 eggs.

What amazed me is that when I asked my smiling courteous server where I might pay he showed me the counter and did not even come along with me. The man behind the desk simply asked me , 'Kitna hua ?' 'How much do you owe us?' I can understand why this place has had a faithful army of customers over the years. This kind of trust between the customer and the owner is rare.

The flaky delightful Kharis

I quite obviously wanted to take back a few goodies and asked him where I might get them and he pointed to the sea of men. Now here are a few tips if you brave the crowd to place your orders. Everyone is in a   rush and no-one behind the take-away counter shall entertain you if you want to take your time. I suggest deciding from before be it what you want or the amount you would like. After a lot of  pushing shoving I finally was in front of the counter and quickly ordered 10 mava cakes, Khari biscuits and bread pudding.

Early birds catch the worm here. At 7:45 a.m. their Jam puffs and sweet buns were sold off. I got back home with two massive sized bread puddings enough to be served to 4 people , 500gm of khari biscuits, 10 mawa cakes at Rs190.

With all that rush activity and demand I still cannot believe they are closing their gates.

The soft fresh hot Bread pudding 

Now coming to the goodies, the mava cake has a nice browned exterior with soft moist interiors and though I have had better ones I shall still say that these are excellent in fact the slightly browned exterior gives it a whole new character than the ultra soft ones. The Khari is flaky and delightful as should be. The bread pudding was creamy, moist , sweet with a dominant flavour of vanilla. I say pay your respect to this century old eatery and you shall be a part of history.

These mava cupcakes at Rs10 are addictive and delightful 


  1. If you get the chance, do try the mawa samosa... quite a unique item imo. Also, try the egg omelette. I find that it is better than the scrambled eggs... best enjoyed with the thick, hand sliced bread it is served with and hot, sweet tea :)

  2. Thank-you Siddharth I really wish I could go back again and again for mawa samosas, jam puffs , sweet buns and all the items I missed out but I leave for Calcutta tomorrow and wouldn't come back for my next visit for quite sometime. It is just sad that they are bidding adieu. Believe me with the kind of demand for their products that I saw with my own eyes last Sunday I am still stunned that they would shut their doors.