Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Irani Cafe... A Bawi’s soul satisfying experience!

I had heard of this new kid on the block and was itching to visit it. I finally got to visit it twice within a span of ten days – once with a friend and soon after, with a small group. This review is a ‘combo pack’ of both the visits.

During the first visit my friend and I chose the Toast Cheese Omelette Sandwich, Grilled Cheese Bun, Chicken Kheema, Chicken Kheema Ghotala, Sheekanjbeen, and regular Irani chai (tea).

As this was my first visit to Irani Cafe I requested for a regular chai. It was slightly strong for my taste. The next time I will make sure I call for a lighter version.

The Toast Cheese Omelette was very good. The quantity of cheese was satisfying and it oozed out of the omelette. What a marvellous sight that was! The egg-y bites that had cheese in them were PERFECT but the bites without cheese lacked a bit of seasoning.  I’m guessing they went easy on seasoning the egg as cheese is salty they did not want to end up with an over salted omelette. This was evident to both, my friend and me. We would have also preferred more butter on the toast!. Over all, I’d give this dish an eight on ten. Had there been more butter on the toast (don’t blame me – blame my Bawi genes) and a wee more salt in the egg, the rating would have touched a 10/10.

Cheese Grill Bun

The Grilled Cheese Bun was awesome. Grilled to perfection; packed with lots of cheese and served piping hot. What could go wrong with that? I had died and gone to Cheese heaven! It was only later that I read on the menu that they served the same bun with cheese and BUTTER. I mentally kicked myself real hard for missing that one on the menu.

Chicken Kheema

The Chicken Kheema was the sautéed kind. It was spicy and delicious, although it lacked the meaty flavour that is so much a part of mutton kheema. But it made up for that by being well seasoned and well spiced. I enjoy spicy food hence had it without pau
 or bread. I’d happily dig into this plate all over again. 

Chicken Kheema Ghotala

The Chicken Kheema Ghotala was just that. Ghotala (mix up)! It was Chicken Kheema with scrambled egg added to it. The added egg toned down the flavour considerably and hence it fell short of glory. If only they had added adequate spices I’m sure it would have been a ‘Ghotala’ of the good kind.

Sheekanjbeen is concoction of sugar syrup, mint, honey and grated cucumber topped with water or soda. I had read up about Sheekanjbeen on Google and I knew it contained cucumber (making an urgghh face) and honey (not too fond of honey either). I ordered the Sheekanjbeen but requested our server, Shafiq, to leave out the cucumber. I opted for soda instead of water. The drink was unbelievably refreshing and delicious. I would never have thought a drink sweetened with honey would blow me away. I was hooked! A massive 10/10 for the Sheekanjbeen!

For the second visit my choices were Sunny side up eggs (in Irani Cafe lingo, half fry) and a Grilled Cheese Maska Bun and a tall, chilled glass of Sheekanjbeen.

If any of you grew up with Bawa (Parsee) friends then, surely, you are familiar with our undying love of eggs. A perfect sunny side up with that brilliant yellow yolk puts a sparkling smile on my face. I have often gazed on such a beauty with pure adulation and greedy desire! I dipped my perfectly grilled cheese maska grilled bun (the added maska/butter definitely enhanced the flavour of the bun) into the yolk and as I took that first bite, I was immediately transported to another world... where eggs cheese and butter exist in perfect harmony.

Grill Cheese Bun Maska

The Sheekanjbeen was just as delicious and refreshing as it was on my first visit; I happily polished off two glasses as we sat there and gabbed for two hours.

I had chicken Chicken Kheema Samosas parcelled on my first visit and they were DELICIOUS! Another bull’s eye on taste! A 10/10! On our second visit, too, I again had them pack half a dozen Chicken Kheema Samosas. When I reached home and bit into the first one, it turned out to be a vegetarian samosa. Filled with cabbage! How could anyone do this to a carnivore Bawi! (Weeps – I’m overacting, of course) I called the Irani Cafe to inform them of the mix up and the owner Kaseem Noorie told me he would check and get back to me. He did and that too, within 5 minutes. Commendable! He agreed to the mix up and apologized with a promise to deliver chicken samosas to me the next day. I told him it wasn’t necessary as I had just called him to inform him of the mix up but he insisted. He even refused payment when I tried to pay for the samosas and all but ran away when I kept insisting on paying. I finally accepted the complimentary samosas. (Thank you Kaseem – it was indeed very sweet and kind of you to have done that). Clearly shows how committed you are to your work and to your customers. 

Irani Cafe has a cute list of rules mentioned on a card beneath the table glass; a few of which we broke. Two rules mentioned in the list are ‘no sitting long’ and ‘no talking loudly’. On our second visit we were a gang of five ladies. Try telling a gang of girls not to sit around long, gabbing or not to talk loudly! Is that even possible?? (Evil grin) I must also confess that we flirted with the cashier on our first visit even though it is explicitly stated in the list of rules... No Flirting with cashier. We couldn’t help it; he was cute! (Giggles)

Everything at The Irani Cafe is perfectly priced and total value for money. As they do not slather the breads/buns with butter, it would be great if they can incorporated ‘double maska’ in their menu. They can price it accordingly and people like me, who visit restaurants like Irani Cafe for such sinful stuff, would get their massive dose of maska (no pun intended). Would I visit Irani Cafe again? I definitely will!

Ambiance: 2.8/5 *it’s a simple no-frills cafe*
Service: 4/5 *thank you Shafiq for always serving us with a smile and a BIG thank you Kaseem for those samosas*
Food: 4.5/5 *Kheema Ghotala was bland - everything else was GREAT*

Address: Shop No 2, Turning Point Unit-2, Opposite Rosary School, Viman Nagar, Pune.
Tel: 020 30189278

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