Roadside chaat, kebabs and biryanis in Mughlai establishments, omelette pao at Irani cafes, fancy pasta at Italian fine-dine restaurants — Mumbai has something for every taste bud.
However, when you decide to eat a meal at a decently expensive restaurant in Mumbai, the food and the experience both are equally important.
A great ambience, fantastic service coupled with bad food make for a royal waste of money. And with time, Mumbai has gotten itself some great places that win on all counts and make for a great culinary experience.
However, I often find myself seated at these restaurants that have absolutely no sense of privacy. No, I don’t mean the ‘no one can see me’ privacy; I mean the kind of privacy where the next table can’t hear about my traffic woes and I am not forced to overhear saas-bahu jhagda being discussed at the next table.
I understand that space is expensive in Mumbai, and restaurants want to fit in as many covers as they can at one given time. But does that hold true for fancy restaurants that have cropped up in the last two years across town?
I understand Udipis, fast-food and budget restaurants forcing you to share tables. Hell, I’d even say that it adds to the charm of eating at such establishments, but fine-dine restaurants that arrange tables like one would pack sardines in a tin make me feel cheated, irrespective of the quality of food.
For example, a French restaurant in Mumbai serves reasonably good food and has excellent service but requires you to be a trapeze artiste to make your way between tables without knocking a glass or two.
All the tables for two are thrown next to each other, barely a foot apart. At another one of these fancy restaurants, I excitedly suggested that we order dessert and the guy at the table next to mine responded with a ‘Why not?’.
Our tables were so close to each other that he mistook my voice for that of his date. Awkward! This makes my dining experience akin to that at a south Indian restaurant in Matunga (at ten times the cost, mind you).
Across the city, the table for two is often tiny, with barely any space for plates and maybe a salt shaker. My friend in the hospitality business tells me this is because, on an average, the per-person bill at a table for two is less than that at a bigger one.
But if a pair of diners decides to settle at a table for four, isn’t that a bigger loss for the restaurant on a busy day? I can’t solve this puzzle, but I do wonder why the table for two receives such a stepchild-like treatment across Mumbai restaurants.
If you know the answer, let me know. And if you’ve stumbled upon a restaurant with a comfortable table for two, definitely let me know!