Beer at Mondys
by Ishita Sinha
8 June 2009
Café Mondegar, near Regal Cinema, Colaba Causeway, Mumbai. Call (+91) 22-2020591.
It’s not a restaurant, it’s not a pub, it’s an experience – or as my Grandpa would have put it, ‘Café Mondegar is something else’.
The first thing that strikes you about the place is the caricatures by Mario Miranda decorating the walls – and if that weren’t signature enough, there is a jukebox, sitting pretty and loud at one corner. But it’s probably the sound of the beer bottles being popped open on a hot, sultry summer evening that makes you instantly decide to ask for a table in this very, very inviting place that we call ‘Mondys’.
Perched at the corner of Colaba causeway, this 80 year old pub is as much a part of Mumbai as is the Gateway of India. Its not a fancy place, mind you - not uptight and high-strung as many pubs are – it’s a place you can walk in wearing your shorts after a sweaty game of football or after a frenzied afternoon of street shopping and still feel completely welcomed, at home.
The tables are small and if you are in a big group, be prepared to huddle up. The menu sits silently under the table glass top, offering a good range of continental, Indian and Chinese food. The pizzas there are a tad special – the generosity with the cheese portions will stun you and the taste will remind you of your mom’s oven. The choice of music is largely retro: one would hear Pink Floyd or the Doors in the air, and occasionally some Elvis and Abba. It’s a favourite spot for many advertisement shoots and a place which has connoisseurs to the likes of Vishwanathan Anand, Rahul Dravid, Pankaj Kapur, Dimple Kapadia and even Gregory David Roberts.
On one wall corner there are souvenirs, to buy or simply see – mugs, plates, and funky t-shirts, one of them saying “Reality is an illusion caused by alcohol deficiency”. There is also a closed space inside, apart from the semi-open area named “The Innside Story” – but I prefer the outside space for the jukebox, the noise and the sheer energy that comes with the multi-activities happening there – the long impatient waiting queue, the shelves filled with beer bottles, the waiters making their way through the jam-packed chairs that are almost placed back to back and the caricatures on the wall.
But even if I stop raving about the food, the people, the goodies, the music and the ambience, there is still a lot about Mondys that will make you want to go there – the place has a life of its own, it has this warmth that just makes you instantly love it, and it has the nicest manager – Huxley Pimenta - who ensures that every visitor turns into a loyalist and every loyalist becomes a patron. “The fact that it is packed equally on weekdays as it in on weekends is what I like to term as Mondys’ destiny”, he says.
I have been going to Mondys for years now and nothing has changed – it’s like a time capsule where everything has been constant, from the chequered tablecloth to the same friendly staff dressed in blue to the Jukebox play list. But that’s exactly what’s special about the place, that it never changes and you want to return there for what it is. That is why, as Huxley puts it, “Café Mondegar isn’t a pub, it’s an institution”.