Murals of Maharashtrian pride — a nath (nose ring), a pagdi (turban), a jiretop (headwear), a dhaal (warrior shield), and the logo of Aaswad on a Rajmudra (royal seal) with the words ‘Swadisht Sevechi Sattvik Parampara’, meaning carrying a legacy of serving delicious and authentic cuisine, etched on it, and a Bhikbaali (earring) — now adorn the walls of the newly furnished Aaswad Upahar and Mithaigriha in Dadar West. Its owner Suryakant Sarjoshi is excited about the reopening of his restaurant next week at its original location. Three years ago, the building that housed the legendary eatery [their misal pav had won the tastiest vegetarian dish of the world in 2015] underwent redevelopment and so, the restaurant had to shift base from the buzzing Shiv Sena Bhavan junction to another location a few lanes away.
While the restaurant was to reopen on Gudi Padwa in March, the lockdown delayed the schedule. In June, when deliveries had resumed, they continued to operate from the temporary location near Our Lady of Salvation church, Dadar. Last month, during Ganapati, they started the sweets and parcel counter from the renovated space but the reopening of the entire restaurant during the pandemic is a different line of business altogether. “The government’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) came only last night,” he tells us over a call on Sunday evening. “We have called back our staff who had gone to their native place during the lockdown and will need a few days to ensure we adhere to all the norms, including re-sanitising the whole space and conducting health check-ups for the staff. We also need to ensure they have accommodation close by as we cannot have them live on the premise. A restaurant cannot be a used as a dwelling place,” informs Sarjoshi.
The new two-floor space is a complete shift from the simple canteen-styled establishment Aaswad was known for. Sarjoshi, who worked closely with interior designer Vivek Gadre, says, “We have tried to showcase our rich history and culture with these symbolic art pieces as we serve authentic traditional Maharashtrian food. This blend of art, culture and cuisine will surely interest the guests and make them curious to know and read more about our great heritage.” The in-house lift has been thoughtfully installed for the convenience of senior citizens.
As for the food, all the old favourites, including the pithle bhaji bhakri, puri bhaji, misal, kothimbir wadi, thalipeeth, kharvas and modak will continue to be on the menu. “A few weeks down the line once the kitchen is set up, we will see if we can add a few more items to the menu,” says Sarjoshi, who is grateful to the efforts of the The Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) and the Maharashtra government to act on the reopening of restaurants as a large number of families were affected by it.
Reopens October 12
At Gadkari Chauk, 4, Sanskruti, Lady Jamshedji Road, Dadar West
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