2 September 2014
Dadar Parsi Colony, behind Dinah Manzil, Dadar, Mumbai.
Café 792 isn’t your average Parsi or Irani café.
Named for its block number, a gravel-filled garden and a cobbled pathway lead you into the newest entrant to Dadar’s food landscape. The outhouse of a bungalow in a quiet and leafy Parsi colony is home to a café that is better described as 'a takeaway joint with some seating'. It serves quiche, beef rolls, stuffed breads, papaya salads, hummus, paneer bhurji, brownies and chocolate biscuits. In short, it serves everything you wouldn't expect to find at a Parsi café.
This tiny café is run by Jehan Nargolwala and her partner, Danish. As it happens, Nargolwala's father, Gustad Dehmiri, is one of the partners at those other Mumbai stalwarts, Café Universal and Café Leopold. And while it is early days yet for this tiny cousin, this café with room to fit only two tables, already it feels like an old friend. All-grey inside (with the odd splash of red), there is a kitchen, a serving counter and those two tables. The staff are friendly and the chef (they call him that) will ask your food preferences and recommend a dish accordingly.
I asked for something meaty and was given the beef chilly wrap (Rs 130). Stuffed with tender chunks of beef, spicy green chillies and just a hint of mayonnaise to cut through the spice, the maida wrap was a touch on the thick side, but it worked, because the outer casing soaked up the juices of the meat without collapsing. The vegetarian quiche (their chicken version was sold out) had crumbly pastry and a moist, cheesy filling punctuated with steamed corn for extra texture. Among the cakes, eclairs and mousses, we’d still recommend the baked yoghurt (Rs 65) above all the rest. Similar to Bengali bhapa doi, it was mild, sweet and delicately flavoured with vanilla. Their banana cake is usually sold out, and with good reason, but if it isn't available, the carrot cake is a worthy stand-in.
Café 792 is cosy and peaceful, peddling comforting fare that is super eaten in or taken out. Their creamy hummus, topped with boiled chickpeas and olive, is super to take home, as are the slices of the tender smoked turkey (Rs100 for 100gm). And in the tradition of the Parsi cafés, there is always a dish of the day, which tends to include Parsi staples like berry pulao, chicken farcha, and prawn patio, but could star anything from Goan mutton curry, and steak and potatoes to Spanish rice, shepherd’s pie, chicken Chettinad or lasagna. These all require you to order one day in advance.