Sacru Menezes was a passionate man, but mostly about hockey and food. And he loved to chat. And he needed a place to do all this in. And his answer was a “City Kitchen”.
Set up in 1964, this former India player dropped his boots at Ballard Estate – the home of the shipping and business district, which attracted a lot of Goan ‘Curwallas’ (club for seamen). And he fed them what he loved most, his mother’s cooking. And Sacru’s cooks followed her methods and style and served up simple fare.
And as in a home, the food offered was what any Goan housewife would lay on the table. And typically it would be a fish dish – either fried or a curry, a pork dish – either a vindaloo or a sorpotel, a dal / vegetable combo dish, and a cutlet or a chop. All this mopped up with either rice or pao, accompanied by freshly sliced onions and cabbage on the side. And the day’s dishes would be chalked up on a black board, no fancy menu cards here. Because as in a home, the next day’s food would be different.
46 years later, not much has changed. The food is still cooked once. And it still offers a limited daily menu. And it still remains as unpretentious and simple. And romances still start over a plate of vindaloo. Sacru’s daughter, Edna, who now runs the place, makes sure it stays this way. And as a fan who’s being going there for almost two decades, this pleases me no end.
A slightly expanded menu (10-12 dishes) is on offer these days. The favourites (vindaloo, sorpotel and curry) now feature daily. A smattering of steak and ‘English’ food appear occasionally. And year end seasonal specialties like suckling pig and roast turkey feature. As you can see, vegetables are given scant respect here, true to the Goan culinary style.
And most importantly, the food still tastes the way Edna’s grandmother and her father would have liked it. Wholesome and tasty.
For a leisurely lunch, go closer towards 2 o’clock. But don’t be too late or they would have run out of the favourites. And who knows, the vindaloo might just work that magic again if you are single.
301, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort, Mumbai 400001. Tel: +91 22 22610002. Open 11.30 am – 3.30 pm, 7 pm – 9.45 pm. Sunday closed. No Credit Cards.
Restaurant Update: City Kitchen has shut down. A while ago actually. It’s such a pity that the owner chose crass commercial exploitation of the premises over serving great homestyle Goan food. A landmark has been erased. Let us all observe a minute’s silence in its honour.