Experience a taste of India, without borders. The Bombay Canteen, the award-winning restaurant and bar (Hunger Inc. Hospitality); located at Kamala Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai, presents an unparallel dining experience if you want to eat your way through India. It offers the classic yet unexplored charm of our country’s diverse culinary offering, marrying them expertly with familiar flavours for a truly gourmet experience; while the bar has a unique selection of re-imagined classic cocktails with firm Indian roots. Housed within a recreated old Mumbai bungalow, an ode to the city’s art-deco inspired architectural history, The Bombay Canteen effortlessly transforms itself from day to night, making it a great choice for a hearty lunch, drinks after work, a night about town or dinner with friends and family. Showcasing the wealth of our cuisine, we recreate local, seasonal dishes and reinterpret the country’s age-old culinary traditions. We celebrate the vast, amorphous, borderless idea of India that is infinitely inspiring, with a cuisine style that showcases techniques, textures, ingredients and flavours. With an entirely unique approach to regional Indian food, that is fun, familiar yet innovative; reimagining traditional recipes using seasonal ingredients and showcasing them in a contemporary way is what inspires each season’s menu. The cuisine is best described as India-inspired with a touch of ‘Bombay love’.
Brand identity & positioning + quality of visual design assets and recall
We started The Bombay Canteen seven years ago with the idea to showcase Indian food through a new lens. While we were pushing boundaries with the food we served, we wanted our branding and design to be familiar and comforting to not make the entire experience completely unfamiliar and unapproachable.
Over the past years, The Bombay Canteen has continued to innovate and evolve. With the recent renovation and brand refresh, the design and brand identity has evolved into something more mature and bolder. However, we have ensured to keep it honest and relatable – that guests and patrons continue to be comfortable with. The change of material, colour-palate, design and tone of communication is a general upgrade to be on top of mind while keeping our core philosophy and vision the same with which we started.
SPATIAL EXPERIENCE DESIGN
- Moment of truth – Impact upon entry!
Raising The Glass – The Bar and Cocktail Program at The Bombay Canteen
The bar, a great place to hang out at The Bombay Canteen, has a selection of reimagined classic cocktails with firm Indian roots. Inspired by our culinary ethos, local and seasonal ingredients are used in infusions, bitters, shrubs and tonics to create spectacular signature cocktails. The cocktail program pays tribute to the untold stories of Mumbai and each edition of the bar menu takes on a unique design to bring that story to life.
The Bombay Canteen’s current bar menu and Canteen Cocktail Book is inspired by the ‘People of the Promenade.’ This menu celebrates the people who we meet on the sea-facing promenade – Marine Drive in South Mumbai. From star-crossed lovers to starry eyed-travellers, winded runners to dawdling dog walkers; Bombay’s patchwork of people come to this very oasis of calm to pause, to love, and perhaps just to be. Each cocktail from the ‘People of the Promenade’ inspired drinks menu will surprise you and awaken your love for unconventional pairings, handcrafted, smooth libations and in-house infusions. Sip on drinks such as Tickled Pink a heady mix of rose-infused gin, grapefruit cordial and lime; Mighty Aphrodite made with gin, watermelon vermouth, cherry brandy and orange bitters or the Stolen Kiss a concoction of tequila, pickled starfruit and pineapple. Don’t judge good times by its size and order the Mini Martinis like Canteen Gibson – an interesting blend of gin, dry white wine and seasonal pickle; Plum Manhattan that comes with whiskey, house-made plum vermouth and biers or the Dreamy Daiquiri, a medley of light and dark rum topped with a zesty citrus mix!
If you’re cutting out alcohol, just want to be sober and curious or are the designated driver, the “Free Spirited Cocktails” are drinks without spirits that are as thrilling! There’s C&T a refreshing combination of cucumber cordial, tonic water and mint; Clear Colada that combines house-made coconut and pandan syrup with fresh pineapple and coconut water; Chamomile & Cranberry Tea made with our signature cordial.
Over the last few years, the menu has gone from being a playful pop-up art book paying tribute to the Art Deco architecture of the city; a vibrant calendar inspired by the slang heard and colours seen on the streets of Mumbai to a historical guidebook that takes you on a trip down memory lane to the golden age of the cinematic Talkies.
- Overall guest experience and service excellence; what are those small touches that make the bar experience memorable
– The server knows the secret!
One of the highlights at The Bombay Canteen has been the service experience. Our servers have been very receptive of sharing opinions of what they like or don’t like on the menu, so that the guests have the best dining experience. We have recently introduced a ‘Server Recommends’ feature into our menus where the servers or captains in each section of the restaurant recommend their favourite dish, drink or the special of the day.
– Free-Spirited Cocktail Menu
The menu at The Bombay Canteen is designed to be inclusive for people with all preferences. The Free-Spirited Cocktail menu features non-alcoholic beverage offering featuring well-balanced yet unusual concoctions that are fun, easy drinking and refreshingly delicious! So, whether you’re cutting out alcohol, just want to be sober and curious or are the designated driver for the night; these “Free Spirited Cocktails” are just the drink you should order!
- Innovation in planning / layout and efficiency in usage of space
– The Cocktail Lounge
The Cocktail Lounge starts at the end of the bar counter, this lounge is created for intimate seating. This section also features a swanky high table of eight which opens up as a beautiful bar designed by SpeedX Bars that can be used for private get-togethers and cocktail workshops as it is perfectly designed for a one-on-one interaction with the bartender. Going forward, we hope to use the Cocktail Lounge for bar pop-ups, bar residencies by local and international bars for a longer period of time.
- Distinctiveness of bar and restaurant design – creation of interesting venues / sections to make each visit, experience special and new
– The Foyer
As you enter The Bombay Canteen, you will be greeted by the foyer – a quiet section where you could have a meeting, grab a coffee or just use as a waiting area before you are seated! The Foyer features Canteen Spotlight, the most-recommended dish from our seasonally changing menu.
Example: The Canteen Spotlight from the Winter Menu is the Charred Winter Carrots! Featuring the season’s best red winter carrots that are served with pickled onions, goat milk cheese and toasted pistachios.
– The Cocktail Lounge
Same as above!
– The Art Gallery Section: Bombay On A Plate
The gallery section is dotted with tasteful art, graphic design and contemporary illustrations by Mumbai-based artist Sameer Kulavoor, founder of Bombay Duck Designs. Called as ‘Bombay On A Plate’, this installation is a take on collecting different details and nick knacks from around the city of Bombay and laying them out on ceramic plates. The shape of the ceramic plates also evolves, showing the ever-evolving nature of this city.
– The Washrooms
To add an element of laughter and chuckle, we have created a separate sound system and playlist for the washroom! When you visit the washroom during your next visit at The Bombay Canteen, you will be welcomed with Hindi Bollywood music from the 80s. Songs like Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re, Mehbooba Mehbooba, Dhak Dhak Karne Laga, Hawa Hawai, Sexy Sexy Mujhe Log Bole and others will surely bring a big happy smile on your face.
- Beverage Display and Design @ Bar
We want The Bombay Canteen to be a space where one can discover Indian craft spirits! So, we have a shelf that is dedicated to Indian craft spirits and our bartenders are trained to stir conversations around Indian alcohol and also give guests a tasting of these spirits. This brings interest and awareness about homegrown alcohol labels. Our bar display also showcases jars of house-made ferments, infusions and bitters and each jar has a QR code which will give you information on the bitter or infusion upon scanning it.
The expanse of The Bombay Canteen bar is long, and through design we wanted to use it in the best way possible. Divided into sections, the bar offers our guests different experiences! A part of the bar is dedicated to wine which is called the Wine Corner, this section showcases wine bottles that are arranged along with descriptions like easy drinking – which would give the guest an understanding of the type of wine and then the bartender is always around to assist and give more details on the wine. The rest of the bar is created to showcase the cocktail making process, where the guests can closely watch how their drink is made.
- Furniture design / selection and comfort
One of the learnings from the past 7 years of The Bombay Canteen has been that guests are always looking for a comfortable bar seating, which allows them to linger by the bar for longer. Comfortable wooden bar stools with a backrest are what you will find by our bar. We have also ensured the bar has hooks allowing guests to hang their handbags and bags; there are various plug points closer to the bar that comfortably allow guests to charge their phone close to them. The dining sections in the restaurant are divided between high seating (in the sections near the bar) and low seating (in the other sections), couches and sofa seating for larger groups.
- Selection / Design of Glassware, Tableware, Cutlery & Accessories
When we opened The Bombay Canteen, the glassware was inspired by nostalgia. We served drinks in metal whisky tumblers, crystal glassware and glasses we used at home were used at our bar. With the redesign of the space a couple of months ago, we wanted our glass ware to be minimalistic, more evolved like the Nick & Nora Martini glasses, glasses with an art-deco element and more.
- Lighting and Bar Design – Ambience and fixture palette
- Creative use of materials and detailing
The design of the bar over the years has evolved from grungy and rustic to something that is elegant, charming and mature. The bar back is adorned with art-deco motifs which you will also see around the other dining areas and sections of the restaurant. The bar also features artwork by Mumbai-based artist Sameer Kulavoor, an Indian contemporary artist and founder of Bombay Duck Designs. At the centre of the bar back, you will see a stained mirror that makes the bar look busy.
The wooden bar at The Bombay Canteen is inspired by the bars inside hotels in Bombay back in the days, that aged over time. The idea behind the bar design is to give guests a sense of nostalgia, comfort and familiarity, where one can catch up with friends, grab some drinks and have a conversation.
The intimate bar comes alive with dim-lit, vintage lamps; globe lights, small spot lights that shine onto the drinks served by the bar and fluted glass. The art-deco lamps would remind you of a cosy living room of someone’s home, where you could sit and read a book. To make the bar more inviting and attract more guests to come sit by the bar, we have ensured that the lighting is warm and welcoming!
- Back-Of-House Quality & Operational Effectiveness
From the beginning of 2022, The Bombay Canteen has introduced a mentorship program by Countertop India founded by bartending veterans Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran. This mentorship helps us create better efficiency behind the bar – from minimal use of plastic, to the training on importance of fresh and seasonal produce in our bar program and offerings, storing of ferments, infusions, bitters, sustainability practices to create a bar that adheres by international standards.