For the love of good food….
Irani Cafes are known to be iconic, value-for-money eating joints with a basic setup in some of the most high visibility locations. But the one thing that most of these cafes have the bull’s eye on is more often than not the food. While Mumbai is known as a city with the most well-known surviving Irani cafes, it came as a surprise to me that nearby Pune too had it’s share of these places brimming with contemporary history. One of the best-known Irani Cafés we explored in Pune is Café Good Luck, replete with a namesake chowk – Good Luck Chowk.
Café Good Luck is a much-talked about and touted eatery in the college-heavy area of FC Road. Started in 1935 by Haji Hussain Ali Yakshi, this joint has been a popular hangout of students from colleges all around including Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). The patrons for this cafe have included the likes of evergreen star Dev Anand (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dev_Anand), superstar Rajesh Khanna (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajesh_Khanna) and Bollywood movie director David Dhawan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dhawan) to name a few. In 2001, the reins of the case were handed to the founder’s son Ghasem. If you look up Café Good Luck on Zomato (a popular food and restaurant search app), you can still see people swooning over it’s timeless specials like brun maska, bun omlette, bheja masala, Irani chai and caramel pudding.
We went there on a pleasant Sunday morning. At first glance the joint can look a little unkept, but it is actually just very old. To describe the place in one word you could simply sum it up as – busy! You can see people standing around looking one way to another to grab a table. You can see waiters loaded with plates going from table to table to regular patrons, some of who are daily visitors. What you also see is huge vessels of butter being liberally spread on buns and bread slices.
We started with an order of Anda bhurji, Bun Omelette and Mutton Kheema. The anda bhurji or scrambled eggs tasted exactly like they were home-made. Made with turmeric, onion and chillies every bite tasted of egg, onion, chillies and had the scrambled texture.
To me, one of the big surprise was the bun omelette. While there are places serving pav omelette, having a thick omelette folded into a sweet bun was a first for me. The bun was a typical Irani bun, thick and sweet with red and green tooti frooti in places. The omelette was a surprising orangish in colour probably lent to it by the tomato and the red chilly, liberally sprinkled with green chillies. Together, it was an interesting medley of taste – sweetness of the bun, chunkiness of the tooti frooti, thick and soft omelette and the occasional sharpness of green chillies.
The mutton kheema was served with 4 slices of white bread. It was a little different from the kheema we tasted at other places. Unlike the spice and chunkiness experienced in earlier places, this one was tangy and completely minced up, giving it a very paste-like texture.
We then decided that we could just not leave an Irani café without having a brun maska and Irani chai. The brun maska was huge and cut into 4 pieces horizontally with the whole bun cut into vertical halves. There was a generous slathering of butter between the two halves and a thick dab of butter on the top of the bun. If you are counting calories, close your eyes, bite into the bun and just savour the richness of butter with the soft sweet taste of the bun, forgetting the word calorie even exists.
The special tea was served in small ceramic cups and saucers. The tea was super strong and could wake you up from a slumber in a minute. There was also the mild taste of some spices in the tea to make it taste quite different. Dip the brun maska into the cup, eat the soggy breaking bun and drink the tea with a small pool of butter in it. Yum! The good life. While we went there for breakfast, even with lunch or dinner there is rarely a chance you can go wrong with Café Good Luck. Sip on a cup of their special Irani chai, have their spicy bheja fry or the sinfully delicious brun maska at your own pace while you watch everyone busily running to cater to the unending list of loyal patrons.
Name: Cafe Good Luck
Specialty: Brun maska, Bun Omelette Irani chai, Bheja Fry
Address: Fergusson College Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Gokhale Chowk, Pune
Veg/Non Veg: Both
Value for money: 4.5/5
Food quality: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5