Transformation Tuesdays are indeed a reality at the eclectic Irani-Parsi café and bar ‘Moombai & Co.’. Contrary to the chic surroundings of The H Dubai it is situated in, the ambience of the space nestled bang at the front of the hotel has been ‘transformed’ to match the legacy of traditional Irani-Parsi cafes, which flourished in Mumbai during the 50s.
Jonathan Mangham, design director for TGP Design—the team that brought the café to life—remarks: “The 310sqm interior space is located on the ground floor, and the designs were to include a bar plus dining space, allowing for a great atmosphere to be created, as you would find in the traditional Parsi cafes. The design really is more than the sum of its parts, with the visual overload being key to the whole atmosphere. It’s hard to isolate any particular feature that is my favourite, but the brick vaulted ceiling with all the fans and looped pendant lighting has a great impact when you walk through the entrance.”
The restaurant is one giant splash of colour—think resplendent Indian shades of magenta, saffron, peacock blue, and lemon yellow. A number of things catch your eye when you step into the eatery—the walls are adorned with vibrant framed posters and wallpapers depicting the Indian films from the 50s and 60s. Vintage artefacts like dial phones, retro TV sets, and figurines of Indian trucks and glasses of tea in wire racks are tastefully littered across the restaurant space.
A sweeping set of wooden shelves groans under the weight of a number of classic VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and scores of paperbacks. There are a number of Parsi café staples too– ceiling fans, exposed brick, mahogany furniture, Italian marble table tops, bent cane chairs, and pendulum wall clocks. Many of these items have been handpicked from the bursting markets of Mumbai. French windows lead to the outdoor seating space, where one can enjoy a dewy-eyed meal under the shade of umbrellas and strings of lights. Naturally, this area finds favour during the cooler months. The café also boasts a separate bar known as the Permit Bar, where you can find all sorts of eclectic bottle-aged cocktails, cold drip coffees, and chai.
The food is made to match the décor; chef Ashish Kumar heads the kitchen team, bringing extensive experience and authenticity to the table. Indian songs play overhead as you dine, not prejudiced against which decade or region in India they originate from—you might detect the occasional Pancham Da track followed immediately by a peppy MGR song. The café successfully combines all the elements of a typical Mumbai Irani café and promises to celebrate a bygone era in a new-fashioned environment, whilst offering hearty, delicious, and honest food alongside warm and generous hospitality.
Menu worth trying
Popular dishes on the menu include Keema Pao, Chicken Berry Biryani, Patra Ni Macchi, Nalli Nihari, Auntie’s Bhuna Gosht, and the legendary Kulfi Platter, served on a bed of crushed ice, accompanied by freshly cut fruits. The café runs a weekly Saturday brunch, where you’ll find everything from all-day breakfast options to unlimited packages. As the café puts it, “it’s like visiting your aunties house back home where everyone is welcome, and no one leaves hungry.”