I have to admit that I usually associate certain cuisines with certain cities and for me Parsi cuisine represents old Bombay. I had made a list of parsi eateries to visit and this tiny eatery was definitely on the list. In today's virtual world the information on a certain topic of your choice is abundant and so I read reviews, noted the route and I was going to have a date with Old Bombay.
The cafe is not that difficult to locate. When going from CST railways station you need to take D.N.Road and then keep walking ahead, walk past Flora Fountain and then look for the Old Oriental Building which bifurcates the road in two on the left side of the road when traveling for CST and keep to one's left. walk straight ahead and you find this unpretentious eatery.
The eatery is not really a cafe. This is a typical Parsi lunch home. From my experience and talks with some of the owners it is clear that most of these Parsi eating establishments were originally intended for office goers who wanted to grab a quick bite during lunch. So they remain closed on Sundays and function between 11a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The decor has been maintained like it was when they opened the gates and so you have the solid wooden tables and chairs along with the addition of a few new age iron chairs , simple and clean. The restaurant isn't air-conditioned but with high celings and thick walls you are in a cool haven. There is a vintage clock and little posters of 'Bawa tips' (Parsi jokes) stuck on the clean but well maintained walls.
The bald smiling server came up to me with the menu but since I already knew about the menu thanks to Zomato I asked for the chicken cutlet gravy and a pack of Chicken Biriyani to be packed for dinner. Their menu keeps changing everyday so that the regular customers do not get bored and you have reason to go back again and again. As expected from these old establishments the servers are extremely courteous. This is one eatery where you get beer at cheap rates (as mentioned by many a reviewer on Zomato) but since I do not drink beer I ordered a glass of lemonade.
What pleased me first was the huge size of the glass. I usually like my fresh lime soda with a balanced taste of sweetness and saltiness and most restaurants make it either a bit too sweet or too salty. This cafe's fresh lime soda was perfect for my taste. It was perfectly chilled and there wasn't any ice which means you get extra value for money.
My chicken cutlet gravy along with six mini sized white sliced bread was served within 7 minutes and at Rs90 the size of the cutlet impressed me and with bite after bite I realized this was a few cafes where the ration of chicken to potato was 80:20 which means you again get value for money and the taste is amazing. Now I feel very uncomfortable clicking pictures at restaurants and so I do not have a visual image but imagine a cutlet which is as big as a big tea cup's saucer, big enough for an entire meal . The cutlet is perfectly crisp on the outside with succulent melt in the mouth minced meat inside. Doused in a balanced gravy it is simply perfect. From what I could make it there was a generous amount of garlic and onions,tomato and jeera dhanu (Cumin and coriander) if I am not mistaken which makes this dish one of the best friend for your taste buds.
I was completely full and since my packaged Biriyani was already placed on my table I was ready to ask for the cheque when the gentle server asked me if i did not want the caramel custard. His tone had suggested that I couldn't but miss it and one spoonful of that dessert and I knew what he was talking about. Somebody has rightly said that you get the best caramel custards of Bombay in this place and I completely agree. It was the creamiest, smoothest and most delicious creme caramel or caramel custard that I have ever had. The caramel was perfectly dark in colour and full of flavour not the usual syrupy liquid but dark, full bodied and a delight. I was almost ready to order a second helping when I realized I would barely be able to move after that and so I left wanting for more which means I am sure to go back as soon as I visit Bombay again.
Now I carried back the Biriyani and had a delightful supper. You see there are numerous types of Biriyani and to compare one with the other is foolishness. The Biriyani here has rice which is moist layered with the chicken which is cooked in a dry curry. So you mix everything and then enjoy a hearty meal of chicken rice and curry together. There was the distinct taste of caramelized onions with tomatoes , garlic, ginger and spices blend well .That it was saffron which imparted that yellowish colour was clear because turmeric would inevitably give out a strange smell.
My total bill came to a mere Rs315 . It is completely value for money and in fact econimic.
I definitely recommend a hearty meal at cafe Military.