Bombay Circa 90s...
A rolly polly boy of only 96 kilos is getting excited....his extended family is visiting.....which when your Marwari means only one thing......food....glorious food.....fatty fried.....unapologetically unhealthy and tasty food...
And when the relatives were ex-south-bombayites the places they wanted to visit were pretty much cut in stone, kobe sizzlers, cream centre, kyber, shamiana etc..
You couldn't possibly think of going to cream centre on a Sunday.........so an appropriate weekday would be selected and with a ratio of 7 per Maruti, we would reach chowpatty, one male kid and male elder would drop of the family and then proceed to find parking , after invoking the gods ofcourse, if you were lucky you would find it within 500m, most days not so.
The dropping of the family was not merely chivalry, even on weekdays there was always waiting to be seated, and even today the chain does not accept reservations.
The curt attendant at the gate, would write down the names, and we would hover around outside......too scared to even pace around, lest our name is called and we miss our turn.
Once seated we would pounce on the famous aachar........only looking up to confirm which refreshment we would be having, thumsup float, lime ice, pink fantasy, etc.....
The decision to be made was.............how many chole bhatures would you be having.
2 chola bhaturas, and loads of pickled onions and bowls of aachar later, we would be faced with the biggest decisions of the night.
Which paans and mukhwaas to have at the paanwalas outside.
All this and the bill would be about 150-200 a head.
Fast Forward to Mumbai circa 2014.
The furniture may have changed but its still the loud, "pure vez" and jain frequented cream centre on chowpatty.
The staff and the attendants still feel they are doing you a favour by feeding you and still no signs of reservations.
The menu is now huge though.
After the chain split with the neighboring New Yorkers they introduced an entirely new menu and more.
Cream Centre is now a complete "Pure Veg Jain Friendly Multi Cuisine Restaurant".(no Chinese mains only in sizzlers).
Everything here is "Indian SomeCuisine", and the taste ranges from good to the Excellent Pizzas.
If youre the "Pure Vezz Jain types " who wouldn't be caught dead in restaurant that serves Non-veg, this place is heaven.
For normal eggetarians like me who are forced to come here to re-live their childhood memories of taste, I can say one thing..
The Price of this childhood memory is now 750rs.