Dhansak, omelettes, and whiff of coffee history
Started in 1948, Fort's Coffee House is not only one of the oldest eateries in the area but is also one of the last few to serve Coffee Board of India-approved coffee apart from yummy Parsi and Chinese dishes. Hassan M Kamal bit into a slice of its culinary history
When most of Fort’s Udupi restaurants have either shut down or re-christened themselves into lifestyle restaurants, the Coffee House, a 64-year-old coffee place on Homi Mody Street, not only wants to preserve its history and bring its old glory back, but also move ahead with the times.
The restaurant is now under a new management headed by Farhang Jehani, Dr Kiresh Zorabi and his wife Geeti. While Dr Zorabi is an ophthalmologist, and has no experience of running a restaurant, his wife Geeti is one of the partners at Mocambo Café while Jehani is a partner at Leopold Café. “It’s an old dream — of my wife and I, to run a restaurant, so when we heard about Coffee House, we went for it,” he shares.
Coffee House started in 1948, and was run by Shama Shetty. Under Shetty’s guidance, it not only became one of most popular Udupi restaurants in the vicinity, but also was recognised by Coffee Board of India for its Filter Coffee and Coffee Teapot. “The coffee joint reached its peak in the 1980 and 90s when it attracted Amol Palekar and Harshad Mehta.
The egg dishes, especially the omlettes were a major attraction,” reminisces Dr Zorabi. These items are still on Coffee House’s menu, and continue to be its pride. Served with generous pieces of mutton, we became a fan of the Mutton Omelette (Rs 70).
One of the few Board-recognised coffee joints in south Mumbai, the Coffee House still procures its coffee powder from the Board. The Filter Coffee (Rs 20) impressed — perhaps, the best in town.
While you are welcomed by the newly introduced open-air tandoor in the front of the restaurant, the interiors of Coffee House reek of history, courtesy the old blackboard that displays the day’s specialties, new announcements and offers. The walls have wallpaper sporting a red-and-white-polka dotted design. It catches your attention, as you also spot the old black-and-white coffee ads.
Traditionally, its menu had Udupi dishes, but the new one inlcudes Parsi, Chinese and Indian items, sandwiches and rolls from the old Mocambo Cafeand tandoor items. The Mutton Dhansak (Rs 130) was served with brown rice, and generous portions of mutton.
No wonder, well-known foodie Kunal Vijaykar called it the best Dhansak in town (signed on the café walls). Next, we tried the Vegetable Pot Rice (Rs 150), which tasted okay. Beef lovers will be pleased as the eatery offers countless options. “What we want to offer is good food, without burning a hole in your pocket.” adds Dr Zorabi. It didn’t. After eating nine items, the total bill was less than Rs 700.
At 5A, Homi Mody Street, Opposite State Bank, Fort. Call 22654892
The Coffee House didn't know we were there.
The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.