Sparkling Wine in a Heritage Bottle

Mumbai has its Gateway of India.

The Gateway has its Taj Mahal Hotel and Towers.

The Taj Mahal Hotel and Towers has its Shamiana.

The analogy is as simple as that.

Taj’s iconic 24 hour coffee shop Shamiana, which opened way back in the 1970s and relocated to another area many years ago is back, back to where it always belonged.

Folks, it’s pure nostalgia time at the Shamiana, and we were the privileged ones to savour it as soon as it opened its doors about a week back.

In its new avatar, Shamiana stands where Starboard and Zodiac Grill used to be earlier. Now reaching out to a hipper generation, its new look is modern with clean lines, yet retaining its class with a warm ambience.

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It hosts an open kitchen and is a dessert lover’s haven with its live dessert section. Beautiful coffee table style cookery books invite you to open their pages; the wall of fame, which is a more a hall of fame, is a must see to view photographs of its old patrons. The coffee shop overlooks a small but cosy open air sit out which beckons you to have your favourite drink there, provided you can brave Mumbai’s balmy weather.

The food of course now. Zodiac Grill lovers, do come out of mourning, as the old favourite, melt in the mouth, Double Baked Camembert Soufflé is being served here. Then there is comfort food, Rajma Chawal, cooked to perfection, just like grand mom did. There’s of course good old Mac n Cheese, a vegetarian burger, and some excellent fish and chicken dishes that our non-vegetarian friends vouched for, among world foods. There’s a section on the menu that also lists the most loved dishes from all its properties around the world. And the best part of it all? None of the food prices run into 4 digits. Prices have almost been halved from the older menu. Only a certain section of the spirits rise beyond the 3 figure mark.

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The best section of all though, remain the desserts. The Baked Almond Cake wins the gold, warm, not too sweet, a perfect accompaniment to the single shot Espresso. The silver goes to the tangy V.S.O.P. Chocolate Mousse, and the bronze to the deconstructed Lemon Tart, or rather the tartlets, which looked like mini meringues served on a strip of a tart base.

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Revive old memories, lovers of Shamiana 1.0, welcome back to the new age Shamiana 2.0, modern, classy, warm, personal (ah ‘Tajness’), as only a Taj restaurant can be. Generation Z, savour modernism amidst old world charm and heritage, and witness coffee shop history being re-written.

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