10 Downing Street: an address associated with good girls going wild. You may think we mean British prime minister Theresa May and her decision to call an early general election, and you wouldn’t be wrong.
A byword in cities such as Hyderabad and Pune, the 10 Downing Street chain of pubs hold special meaning for many boozers who were part of the first generation with the time, money and freedom to order pitchers of beer, mountains of refried nachos and watch cricket on a large projector screen in the company of strangers.
It was also the first and only place we’ve been to with an unlimited-free-drinks policy for women on ladies’ nights, and the origin of this writer’s short-lived career as a woo! girl. (Moving back to Bombay and becoming a journalist doesn’t do wonders for your social life.)
Imagine our surprise, then, at discovering that this hefty and highly unusual discount has been carried over to 10 Downing Street’s first branch in Mumbai. We can’t wait to see the flowers of BKC trample over one another in a bid to refill their Cosmopolitans.
Over a more staid weekend lunch with old friends, 10 Downing Street is rather less like the setting of an early-2000s romcom and more like a cheery, if manifestly fake transplant from Mrs May’s country. The chairs are cosy, the staff friendly, and our neighbouring tables are occupied with young families gratefully face-hugging chilled beers while their little children stomp around the pub in squeaky shoes.
Longtime readers know how little we love big, anything-goes menus and over-sweet cocktails. 10 Downing Street is unabashedly guilty of both: but that’s not all. We all deserve better than the dross we’re fed at most “multi-cuisine” restaurants under the guise of relaxed, undemanding eating. But this – a multi-functional space, well-lit and safe, with room for cricket watchers, solitary boozers, party girls, emo kids who want to listen to Pink Floyd cover bands live, and even toddlers – this we understand and enjoy.
Cocktails + bar bites
It will not surprise you to hear that the watermelon martinis we last drank a decade ago tasted better at the time. However, the staff are understanding and quick to accommodate requests for more chilled and less sugary drinks. Our brunch companion’s virgin pina colada is impeccable, on the other hand: sweet, fruity and frothy.
Their gochujang fried chicken is one of the nicest pub snacks we’ve eaten in a long time, soft, springy and peppery
The food is largely unmemorable: onion rings and a (staff-recommended) “crispy corn” taste like they were meant to be eaten several drinks down, when the only flavour you want to process is grease. A mushroom and cheese pizza has gummy, chewy toppings and fresh sauce and vegetables to love, but is let down by a base that’s closer to Marie biscuit than pizza bread.
But something tells us that there’s enough on this multiple-page menu of pan-Asian, Indian and “world” (read: American diner) pub grub for people to find a favourite and stick to it. Ours is gochujang fried chicken, which is literally just long-fingered chicken pakora with a side of lettuce salad and black bean sauce – and, surprisingly, one of the nicest pub snacks we’ve eaten in a long time, soft, springy and peppery.
Their unlimited-free-drinks policy for women on ladies’ nights is alive and kicking in Mumbai as well
As we’re settling the bill, a toddler staggers past our table, stopping to offer us a sweet smile, looking like he wished he had a French fry in his hand to give us. We leave contemplating the circle of life, feeling kindly towards all the woo-girls and -guys, past and future, who will be accommodated in this big, easygoing barn of a pub. For now, we Brexit.
Getting there: 10 Downing Street, Vibgyor Towers, opposite The Trident, Bandra-Kurla Complex. A meal for two with a round of drinks costs approximately Rs 2,400.
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