For seven days straight we woke up early each morning and went off to get breakfast in the city. This is the only time of year we have great weather so we were determined to be outdoors as much as we could.
Day 1 – The Nutcracker
What we ordered: Mushrooms on Toast, Salli Eggs, Belgian Hot Chocolate
The Nutcracker is a tiny café that, for all its fancy interior decoration, is pretty no-nonsense about the food. This is a great thing. The food arrives quickly, the portions are good and there’s no ironic cutlery/crockery that gets in the way of eating. The Belgian Hot Chocolate tastes like the real thing, unlike most places in Mumbai which give you milky drinking chocolate and pass it off as fancy. The mushrooms on toast were creamy and mildly spicy and the salli eggs were a healthy portion of crunchy goodness. They have a menu with enough variety to allow you to choose but not so much that it gets confusing. Also, an unrelated bonus is the music. Good job on the playlist, whoever is in charge.
Address: Modern House, Dr VB Gandhi Marg, Opposite One Forbes Building, Fort, Mumbai 400023
Day 2 – Cafe Madras
What we ordered: Idli, Dosa, Upma Podi, Filter Coffee
We reached at 7:30 am and the place was already full enough that separate groups had to share tables. If you’ve been to Cafe Madras as a kid you already know the drill. Sit, eat, drink the coffee, leave. It is brisk, efficient and very satisfying. If this is your first time, be ready to eat good and savour it fast. There’s no lingering over your coffee with a book here. The food is consistently good but I do think the portions of their excellent coconut chutney are slightly smaller (but I’m really greedy for it, so what do I know). Well worth the effort to make the trek to Matunga from wherever it is you are in the city.
Address: No. 38-B, Ground Floor, Kamakshi Building, Bhaudaji Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai 400019
Day 3 – Taj Mahal Tea House
What we ordered: Parsi brun maska with homemade jam, Taj Mahal Tea House special fluffy omelet with toasted besan bread, Kashmiri Saffron Tea, Bold Spices Tea
Reviews of the Taj Mahal Tea House have no choice but to begin with this big cliché – ‘housed in a bungalow in a quiet leafy bylane of Bandra’. No choice because all of these things are true. It is a bungalow, a sprawling one at that. Decorated like you want your house to be, all mood lighting, hand-crafted Indian furniture, classic tiles and books in tiny nooks…okay I’ll stop now. The ‘leafy bylane of Bandra’ part is true. It’s off the main road, there are lots of trees and it is in Bandra. So don’t roll your eyes if someone describes it to you like that. Just ask for the address and find your way there. We took the long route – walked from home to the station, took a train, walked from Bandra station to the Tea House. It took us one and half hours and the breakfast felt well-earned. The brun maska is delicious. They have a super fine sugar and light cinnamon dusting on it that is perfect. The special fluffy omelet could be a real conversation piece. It’s tall and really really white. When you cut into it, it’s like cutting through foam and eating something like it is not an experience I’ve had before. It melts in your mouth not unlike cotton candy but with a bit more heft. This is the kind of place where you can linger, so take a book, or a friend and enjoy a sunny afternoon over multiple cups of tea.
Address: 36/A, Sanatan Pereira Bungalow, St. John Baptist Rd, General A.K.Vaidya Marg, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050
Day 4 – Cafe Irani Chaii
What we ordered: Kheema-pav, Bun maska, Bun maska with jam, Chai
Three people, in the space of two days, told us about this new cafe in Mahim. We set off at 7 am, got a bit lost but eventually found our way to the warm, brightly coloured place where you sat at the tables that the resident cats hadn’t staked a claim to already. I was convinced I couldn’t eat meat first thing in the morning but one taste of their kheema made me change my mind. It was buttery, lightly spiced and the kind of thing you just want to keep eating. We may have drizzled it a little too generously with lemon juice, but it was the exact opposite of the heavy, intense meat I was imagining. They’re not shy with the butter on the bun, and they even managed to make mixed fruit jam taste good. I don’t know what mixed fruit jam tastes like in other countries, but the dark orange kind we had as kids had a taste that you were forced to acquire if you wanted variety because otherwise your only option was strawberry. Either the taste has grown on me, or something about dipping a butter-soaked bun with mixed fruit jam in chai on a coldish Mumbai morning is magic.
Address: Rosary Building, Mia Mohd Chhotani Rd, Geeta Nagar, Mahim, Mumbai 400016
Day 5 – La Folie Lab
What we ordered: Shakshuka, Croissant Croque Monsieur, Macchiato, Americano, Marigold Tea, Pain au Chocolat
The day we went for this breakfast began with a series of misadventures. An early morning trip to the bank to run errands started out badly because halfway to the bank I realised I had forgotten one of the papers we needed. Came back home, took the paper, went to the bank to find out – it was closed. 4th Saturday of the month. The new rule is that banks will be closed every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month and the only people who can keep track of that are bank employees who know when they don’t have to come to work. The rest of us are doomed to stand helplessly in front of shuttered doors feeling utterly stupid and hating everything. We dragged our sorry butts to Bandra, by now ravenously hungry, and settled in at the very chic La Folie Lab. All slick, chrome, open plan kitchen, big sunny windows – it looked promising. I’m afraid the breakfast didn’t exactly deliver. I ordered a Croissant Croque Monsieur which arrived looking a bit like a midnight snack that I have made sleepily at some point. A large sized croissant sliced in half with a slice of smoked ham folded around a piece of melted cheese. The parts by themselves were fine. The croissant was flaky and light, the ham was smoky and the cheese was flavourful. Put together, the ratio was all off. For that large a croissant, it needed at least one more slice of ham. I ended up rationing the ham+cheese so that I wouldn’t have to eat large chunks of the croissant dry. There was a mention of a bechamel spread but I’m not sure where it was to be found in this preparation. E’s Shakshuka fared better. A “baked red pepper tomatillo and sunny side egg with feta, sourdough toast and herb butter”, it’s the kind of thing you eat when you’re planning to skip lunch. My marigold tea sounded more exciting than it was, although to be fair I’m not sure what I was expecting. It just tasted like a clear tea with some hint of flavour. I’ve never had a drink with marigold in it so maybe this is what it is supposed to taste like. The pain au chocolat was kind of meh. Sorry, that’s the best I can do. Two chunks of okay chocolate somewhere inside a square croissant-type bread. Maybe we were just having one of those days where things go wrong. I’ll probably try it out one more time before making any sort of decision about the place.
Address: Shop No.1, Libra Tower, 70, Hill Rd, Opposite Saint Peters Church, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050
Day 6 – Cafe Mondegar
What we ordered: Masala Omelet, Sunny Side Up Eggs with Bacon and Sausages, Service Tea,
I love that all the neon signs were on inside the restaurant even at 8 am when we arrived for breakfast. The place was awake and doing brisk business at that early hour on a Sunday – the tourists were already in, locals came with friends, family and even by themselves. The breakfast was delicious – a proper masala omelet with tomatoes, onions, chillies and coriander with a buttered toast that tasted of garlic. The sausage that accompanied the sunny side up eggs was so good I’d have ordered more if I had room to eat more. I asked for the Service Tea because I liked the name. It was more basic than the masala tea but it had the kind of flavour that reminded me of the tea you get at small hill station hotels. They gave us a 2016 calendar and postcards on the way out. I want to say ‘Mondy’s forever!’ Or something silly like that.
Address: 5-A, Metro House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Near Regal Cinema, Colaba Causeway, Colaba, Mumbai 400001
Day 7 – Good Luck Cafe
What we ordered: Kheema samosa, Bun Maska, Chai
This is as cheap and cheerful a breakfast as you can get and it worked well for us on a day when we had to rush back to work. Two kheema samosas per plate with ketchup, a sweet bun with a healthy dose of butter and hot chai in cups-to-go. Nothing to complain about and a good option if you’re in Bandra and need a quick bite.
Address: 106 Mount Carmel Rd, Near Mehboob Studios, Mount Mary, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050
All reviews were conducted anonymously and we paid for the meals ourselves.
All photos: Elvis D’Silva
If you know of a great breakfast place, leave us a tip in the comments below.