Tardeo gave our city two great institutions back in the year 1999, Crossroads, Bombay’s first mall that everyone dragged their mothers to, and Westside, a clothing store that everyone’s mother dragged them to. A lot’s changed is then; Crossroads has been renamed to SoBo Central (because apparently they thought they could get more customers to a failing mall by changing the one thing people liked about it) and the only reason people go to Westside anymore is to try out new clothes and then go home and buy them on Flipkart. Tardeo isn’t cool anymore; it’s just a place that had its moment in the sun and has long since faded into obscurity. But maybe we can change all of that.
They say Sardar Refreshments has the best pav bhaji in all of Bombay, and maybe they’re right, it was up to the brave journalists of the Bombay Report to put that theory to the test and risk life and limb in a second class train compartment at rush hour because an intern who I will not name didn’t want to pay 50 bucks for a first class ticket. After getting off at Grant Road which turns out was a terrible idea (as getting off at Grant Road generally is) and a twenty minute walk because we were pretty lost, we finally managed to find Sardar Refreshments.
Sardar Refreshments is actually a pretty nice place, unlike its suburban rival, Amar Juice Centre; it’s an actual restaurant with luxuries I’d expect from any place that caters to the liberal elites of South Bombay, electricity, chairs and tables. It’s about the same price as Amar, which actually means it’s cheaper considering one’s a legitimate restaurant and the other’s a glorified stall under a tree. Now about the food..
For starters Sardar’s pav bhaji is a tiny bit spicier that Amar’s. The pav isn’t just dipped in butter; it’s drenched in it, and served at a temperature that won’t completely burn off your finger tips when you touch it (unlike at Amar). The bhaji was a god bit more buttery than Amar’s, but not to the point where it was unappetising, though I have to say it still makes for an exceptionally heavy meal, even for a veteran of eating food for a living. There’s a always a waiter roaming around the restaurant with extra buttery pav, so it’s available on demand and you don’t run the risk of your bhaji going cold every time you order a fresh batch.
For all its deliciousness, I do have one grievance with Sardar, the plates they served the bhaji in. They’re tiny, and can barely hold the bhaji without a good percentage of it overflowing onto the table. This might sound like nitpicking but it’s actually pretty irritating when you have to spend what’s supposed to be an enjoyable meal trying to manoeuvre your pav into your bhaji in a manner that doesn’t make a gigantic mess.
Our Decree: Overall I’d have to say that while Sardar Refreshments is a way better place to eat pav bhaji by virtue of it having a roof and running water, we’d have to give our vote to Amar Juice Center for its pav bhaji. While Sardar’s pav bhaji was amazing, I still think they could have gone easier on the butter, it just makes the meal way more heavy than it needs to be. That being said, if you’re a butter enthusiast and are looking to die before your parents, I couldn’t recommend it more.
A regular pav bhaji at Sardar Refreshments is Rs.145 which sounds expensive but is still way lower than the MRP of the amount of butter they put in there.