Only if you didn't call it that
In another world, with another name, and without the token bawa-ism, a new eatery in Andheri might just have worked well for city foodies
If you are anything like us, then predictability becomes off-putting because of its inability to excite you. It's almost like presuming that you are easy to please.
So, when we arrive at House of Daaruwala, it comes across as a pleasant place. We enter through late-19th-century saloon doors to be greeted by an al fresco area covered in artificial grass. The air-conditioned space inside is freezing, but the balmy vintage lights hanging overhead wooden tables provide concessional warmth.
If this was our first day in Mumbai, we would have been impressed. But it isn't, and neither is the restaurant's decor something we haven't seen before. It's nice, but predictable.
We sift through the menu divided into seven sections and take a while to mull over our order. The dishes pique our interest but upon careful consideration, we realise much of it have bawa names but are not really Parsi dishes. With a few authentic eats on offer, we begin with the mutton cutlet, patra ni macchi, cheese chilli on brun toast, and an in-house cocktail, moby dikra (Rs 400).
Not being too fond of mutton, we hurriedly nibble on the spicy cutlets, and wash them down with a sip of the whisky-based cocktail that has a faint, almost evanescing, scent of figs that is overpowered by a bitterness that we later learn comes from angostura. The patra ni macchi wrapped in banana leaves is smeared in green chutney that is too spicy and despite not knowing what the authentic version of this cherished Parsi delicacy tastes like, we can tell that what's on our plate isn't wholly genuine. The cheese chilli toast is nice, like any guilty food with lots of gluten and cheese is, but there isn't anything to write home about.
For the mains, we order masoor ma gosh, kolmi no patio, and veg berry pulao. The bawa-style prawn and potato curry is reminiscent of a simple Bengali potato and prawn curry with a light shorba-like consistency that we remember devouring with steamed gobindobhog (small-grain rice popular in Bengal) rice served with a dollop of pure ghee. However, unlike here, our aunt back in our ancestral home never overcooks the prawns, not even slightly. The masoor ma gosh is tasty and again, akin to the daal gosht we grew up eating. So, while our non-bawa background poses itself as a predicament, our exposure to Muslim food (which shares similarities with Parsi cuisine owing to the geographical proximity of places of origin and shared historical roots) becomes the litmus test for this restaurant. We enjoy the saus nu fish as well, but have reservations about the otherwise tasty berry pulao. We find out later that this dish, too, falls short on authenticity, at least in so far as the berries are concerned.
The new eatery sitting in the heart of Lokhandwala is perhaps a decent place for a meal or two, except for its claim of being a Parsi restaurant. However, if the recent group of aspiring actors that periodically keep migrating to Andheri, Versova and Lokhandwala from across the country (who really believe that Mumbai sapno ka sheher hai), and who are looking to belong to the city by trying to imbibe its ethos (even if through tokenism), is whom the folks at House of Daaruwala want to lure, they are sure to do well.
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