Bombay Buzz Café at Fort can take you on a nostalgic trip to old-style Irani cafes, or transport you into a contemporary age with a range of innovative dishes
When Amarjeet Kohli was a schoolboy, he used to relish the kheema pao and bun-maska that his favourite Irani restaurants in South Mumbai would serve. As Irani restaurants in the city began
closing down in the city, he realised he had to try and fill in the gaps. His family was in the construction business and owned a printing press, but food was his passion and for years, he and his brother ran a hugely successful restaurant at Andheri called Balle Balle. “People in the United States who had visited it would ask about it,” he says. They also have a bakery and offer the most delicious cakes. Plus, on the fourth floor of a building very close to Shopper’s Stop, he runs the Niblette restaurant; it’s a hidden gem with just a few tables in a spacious room that converts into a party hall.
In January, Mr Kohli began a new venture in the heart of South Mumbai—Bombay Buzz Café at Crescent Chamber, 2nd Homi Modi Cross Street at Fort. If you are looking for quick and memorable meals at great prices right in the heart of town, then Bombay Buzz Café is a wonderful option. It’s a short walk from the High Court, and very close to Bombay House.
Here, you can get some of Mr Kohli’s old favourites (yes, the Kheema Pav and Bun Maska!) but there’s also a whole range of other dishes. From Chicken Cordon Blue (Rs 250) to Lemon Basil Fish (Rs 250); pastas at Rs 150 (add chicken for Rs 30 and prawns for Rs 50) and roast chicken in Demi Glaze Sauce, served with Basil Rice (Rs 300), this café has it all. The ‘Yummm… story’, as he calls it, began only after more than ‘hundred trial and testing (oops, tasting) sessions’, with the close involvement of Sannjit Kaur, the daughter of the family.
The extensive menu has various sections, such as the breakfast options under ‘Good Morning Bombai (French toast, pancakes, kheema pao, Baida Kheema Pao and Kheema Ghotala); Ande Ka Funda (a variety of eggs, all served with Butter Pao); Crunch and Munch with dips of your choice, including Mexican Salsa and Dil Honey (chilly cheese samosa, Schezwan Cheese Fries, Chicken Samosa, some delicious potato wedges and much more; you will get four samosas on a plate for just Rs 90). There’s also a long ‘Chattar Pattar’section with intriguing dishes such as the GoGreen Kebab and Pesto Chicken. The Bambai-Style Pasta and The Duo’s (Paneer Ratatouille served with basil rice at Rs 250 and Meat Loaf in Black Pepper Sauce served with butter rice at Rs 300, to name just a few options)… all these add up to a menu that offers mind-boggling choices designed to satisfy diners who like both traditional and innovative meals.
There are two varieties on the menu that Mr Kohli is particularly proud of. The first is the ‘Original Fokaa’s’. “It’s not a sandwich,” he insists. “Like a burger is a ‘burger’, you don’t call it a sandwich!” These consist of focaccia bread—they make their own breads, worthy of five-star hotels—and Bombay Buzz Café stuffs them with fillings that range from fried fish to crispy paneer and even chicken steak, all served with potato wedges. (The veg ones are at Rs 140, the non-veg at Rs 190, and it certainly makes for a very hearty lunch! “I have 40 preparations of Fokaa’s and will put out four at a time,” he says. So no matter how often you eat here, you can be sure of something different at each meal! The Fokaa’s are made extra delicious with Mr Kohli’s signature sauces; ours had honey-mustard, tangy and sweet, made robust with chicken steak.
The other must-try on the menu is the range of ‘Indi Pitzas’. “That’s how the word ‘pizza’ is pronounced,” says Mr Kohli. Expect to find some zing here in ways that go far beyond what the big brands offer; at Bombay Café Buzz you will get dishes that have been lovingly and painstakingly created by Mr Kohli and his team. There’s the Pineapple Chutney Pitza (Rs 180), for instance, or the Chicken Fajita Pitza (Rs 220). Or how about the Spinach Cantaloupe Cottage Cheese Pitza (Rs 180)? If unique food is what you are looking for, go no further! And if you are feeling nostalgic for the Irani restaurants of yore, you can’t go wrong with the Bun Maska Chai or the heavenly Mawa Cake.
While there’s no liquor on the menu, the ‘Chai Coffee & Drinks’ section is also quite extensive Try the Desi Kahwa Chai (Rs 80) and be transported to Kashmir for a few minutes, or the Nuttela Cappuccino (Rs 120) in the Hot Coffees section; relish Caramel Frappe under the Cold Coffees or get experimental with mocktails like Pearly Pink (Rose and Lemon Refresher) or Cinderella (Orange and Pineapple Refresher, both at Rs 120).
Mr Kohli plans to take Bombay Buzz Café to ten branches in the near future, with five opening up over the next six months. If you are looking for quick, filling, healthy meals on the go at prices that are kind to your pocket, make your way to Bombay Buzz Café; it’s sure to put a smile on your face!