Patina in Chennai's Besant Nagar pays tribute to Mumbai's Irani cafes with khari variants and mutton pattice
If you've visited Mumbai, you may have seen the locals obsess over their Irani cafés and short eats which are nothing but a delight. So being a Mumbaikar in Chennai, I was elated when Chef Mathangi Kumar told us about Patina, her newest diner in Besant Nagar. Co-owner of That Madras Place and The Summer House Eatery with Krithika Swaminathan, Mathangi’s menu is a combination of Mumbai classics, sprinkled with other regional favourites like Malaya Kari Fish and Peas Luchi and Aloo Saag. It also has a beverage menu which stresses on using chicory-free coffee from the Tamil Nadu coffee estates, and an exotic tea menu too.
Khari on my mind
A 30-seater diner, Patina has a cosy vibe, which shares space with Krithika’s family-run brand called Wood Pecker Furniture.“My dad is from Andheri in Mumbai and so I wanted to do something around the Irani café and bakeries, as I’ve always loved them,” 21-year-old Krithika tells us about the inspiration behind the cafe, as we sip on traditional South Indian coffee Dabara Filter. With the day’s specials displayed on one brown board, the one-week-old café is already buzzing with people. The menu has so many varieties of the classic khari (puff pastry) even a Mumbaikar like me wanted to skip the regular fare for steaming mutton kheema topped khari, the latter a favourite from all of Mumbai’s bakeries.
“We visited Mumbai a little over two weeks ago and started with Yazdani Bakery and just had fun with everything we tried,” mentions Mathangi, referring to one of Bombay’s most iconic Irani café serving fresh baked treats for almost 70 years. It is no surprise then that we start with perfectly formed mutton pattice, served with pav! It is served with a creamy coriander spread, which transports us directly to an Irani café in Mumbai’s Fort area.
The egg trail
As if an ode to Mumbai rains, the Chicken Pakoras, which come next are fried crisp are simply spiced and appear in a small brass bucket. Don’t fret if you’re a vegetarian because the Cabbage Pakoras, which were among the specials on the day, are delicious and equally crunchy with a strong hint of turmeric. The pakoras are definitely going to be our go-to when we visit Besant Nagar beach next, as it is only a stone’s throw away. However, we may just be spoilt for choice because the humble Anda Pav (eggs in bread) which comes next is nostalgia-driven. An eternal Mumbai favourite, it takes me back home like no other dish can. Sandwiched between a buttered pav, the eggs are served with combination of onions, coriander and mayonnaise, a refreshing addition.
If you love your Parsi food, the classic Papeta Par Eeda is an absolute delight as it has sliced potatoes cooked in a tangy tomato sauce and topped with fried eggs. We savoured the flavours with toasted buttered pav. Made from fresh ghee, the Mawa cake is what dreams are made of, as it is warm soft and fresh off the oven; the Ghee and Cardamom cake is heavenly, and just what we crave for to end our meal.
Meal for two at Rs 600 plus taxes.