I recently wrote a review on Café Mondegar for the Parsi Times and a few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from the restaurant saying their owner wishes to meet with me. I must admit my first thought was that he didn’t like the review and wanted to say something (insist I write about new dishes, it happens sometimes) but usually they just deal with the paper directly and don’t really bother with me. Imagine my surprise when the staff seems so excited to meet me and keep whispering loudly “That is Roxanne.. Parsi Times walli.. paper ma lakhech na”. I must admit its wonderful to know they read what I write, but everything pales in comparison when the 80 something year old Rusi Yezdegardi the Mondegar patriarch shakes my hand with a large welcoming smile and tells me he just wanted to meet the young lady who wrote such a nice article.
I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon chatting with him, listening to his journey, stories about the restaurant about how it got its famous jukebox and many such tales. I saw the real heart of this glorious restaurant schmooze about with his customers in his own way and charm and delight his staff. I left the restaurant feeling delighted to have met him and I made a promise to Rusi uncle that when he’s back in town next time( he now lives in his home in Deolali, his son currently manages and owns the restaurant) we shall meet again and chat away over ‘ some grub’ as he calls it. Till that review happens I thought I’d share the article I wrote.
Many generations can boast of fond memories at Colaba’s beloved Cafe Mondegar. Mondy’s as it’s fondly referred to is an adorable old school styled cafe located at the start of the popular colaba causeway strip. Its walls have been generously painted by the Goan cartoonist Mario Miranda in his signature style and has been a unique trademark for everything at the cafe. From their t shirts, signature plates and mugs all of them have the famous doodles on them.
During my college time, Mondy’s was and still is a popular spot at night to go drinking and gorge on some delicious food while listening to great music. It’s one of the handful of places left in the city that has an original old school jukebox which is still in working condition. Even today it attracts a crowd on most evenings and the weekend always has a waiting period to get a table. One would imagine this only attracts the younger college crowd but that’s just an assumption. The reality is that its universally loved by families (they have a slightly quieter ac room inside) young teenagers, office going folk , tourists, out of towners and almost anyone who just wants to enjoy good food, drink and a great vibe.
Mondy’s has an extensive menu which is strategically placed under the glass on each table with ample to choose from. Continental, Chinese, Indian, Tandoor etc there is enough to please almost every whim and fancy. Their continental dishes are a hot favourite with many and even their Chinese food makes for great grub while enjoying a couple of drinks but my personal all time favourite is their breakfast menu.
They serve breakfast from 7am to 11.30am and even though we sat down at 11.40am they were nice enough to serve us. The menu has a couple of fixed breakfasts for e.g., the Mondy’s special which is priced at Rs. 260 and gets you 2 eggs to orders, ham or bacon or sausage two pieces of any one, 2 slices of toast with butter and jam, fresh fruit juice and tea or coffee. They also have other fixed offers like the energiser and le petit dejunier. The other items on order are of course eggs, whichever way you’d like them, akuri on toast, masala eggs, kheema pao, kheema gotala with pao, pancakes, baked beans, French fries, garlic toast, chilli cheese toast and even French toast.
Mondy’s holds some pretty special memories for me. I’ve caught a quick breakfast on many occasions before my college classes and sometimes even after, a big part of my surprise 21st birthday was at Mondy’s early morning when I went for birthday breakfast with my friends and in fact a lot of great work meetings have happened over breakfast here. So it seemed fitting that when I did a review, I should focus on their breakfast.
Their freshly squeezed watermelon juice is the best way to kick off the breakfast and ours was refreshing as always. The great debate was whether to do eggs or not, I was very tempted with their akuri but instead opted for the kheema. Since we were missing the eggs we decided to get the Kheema gotala which seemed like the perfect solution to the egg problem ( gotala is when the kheema is cooked with egg).
The kheema gotala with soft buttery pao was excellent. The mildly spicy, warm kheema with crunchy onions was cooked perfectly. Its slightly heavy so if you’re a mild eater chances are you’ll be full with just this one dish.
I’m a pancake freak and no matter how many fantastic breakfasts options are in front of me I am always partial to a pancake. I like mine thinner and more crepe like (which explains my love for chapats) and Mondy’s is one of the very few places in town that does thin pancakes. In retrospect I should have opted for the pancake roll (which I usually do but slipped my mind this time) which is basically where the pancake is stuffed with banana and honey or apple, cinnamon and honey. The pancake is huge and so if it’s plain like mine it can get a wee bit boring. The stuffing makes it really interesting and the banana one is delicious.
The one thing we couldn’t resist ordering though it’s not a breakfast item or on the breakfast menu is their spicy pork sausages. These are fiery red diced pork (you could opt for chicken) sausages and full of chilli and beautifully chopped pieces of garlic. The dish is more a starter but it’s spicy, greasy, oily and incredibly yummy! Very Chinese like flavours and it was too great a dish not to eat when we were already at Mondys. Of course it is spicy and slightly heavy so a chilled lemon ice tea to wash the feast down was a cool end to our gluttonous breakfast. Mind you I skipped lunch that day, because I was so satisfied with my brunch.
Cafe Mondegar is simple wholesome food and a very relaxed and different ambience from any other restaurant and bar. Yes it can get very crowded at night especially on the weekends but breakfast lunch or even the evening is a great time to catch a snack or a meal. The staff is friendly and prompt and in all my years of visiting, the cashier and two or three men along with him behind the counter always say a polite thank you and wish you well. It’s a small gesture but one I remember over the years and much appreciate making me always want to eat here.