The new replaces the old

By Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

An eatery has opened up at the same spot where Three Wise Men once stood, but it needs to up its game

Spaghetti Carbonara

In Kitchen Confidential, his warts-and-all account of the food industry, Anthony Bourdain wrote that a new restaurant that comes up at the same spot where an old one shut down is likely to fail even before launching. The reasons he gave are that the location itself might be a problem, and that past associations make it difficult for the new establishment to form its own identity. And if his theory is indeed true, then things don't bode well for Old Times' Sake, which launched exactly a week ago in the same Santacruz space where the wildly popular watering hole, Three Wise Men, used to be.

But since we aren't the sort to jump to conclusions, we decide to check the joint out on a weekend afternoon to form our own opinion, and our autorickshaw draws up before a pile of rubble and a façade covered in blue tarpaulin. It looks like this place has had a premature delivery. The doorman is almost surprised that there are customers at 2 pm. Inside, the waiters are caught equally unawares by our presence. But then they bring us the menu when we settle down at a corner table indicating that, yes, we are indeed here to eat and drink.


The beer-battered prawns

There's not much to ponder over this menu, though, since it's a one-page affair. So we ask for beer prawns (Rs 349), considering those are our two favourite F&B words, and spaghetti carbonara (Rs 349) paired with chardonnay (Rs 240). Now, here's a question: what is it about the Indian palate that compels us to make carbonara with a heavy dose of cream? Any self-respecting Italian will tell you that the sauce in this dish should consist only of egg yolk, which gives the spaghetti a yellowish tinge instead of the bleached-white colour we are accustomed to. You actually don't need anything apart from the pasta, bacon, yolk and seasoning to make an authentic version. But no, that's not for us Indians, who are likely to say, "Mazaa nahi aaya," if that's what we are given.


The interiors themed on retro music

Personally, however, we prefer the Italian method, and are thus left to rue our decision when the carbonara arrives with a noticeable layer of cream. Let's just say that it's not our cup of tea. So we wait with bated breath for the prawns in beer batter, thinking, "Who in the world can mess up this all-time classic?" The answer, sadly, is this eatery. The prawns haven't been fried enough with the coating on it, which gives it an overall kachcha feel.

It turns out then that Old Times' Sake needs to up its game if it wants to keep the legacy of its location alive. The interiors are themed on retro music, which touches a chord with us, especially when we turn the menu to a photo of Daft Punk, our favourite electronic outfit. But that won't be enough to pack the crowds in considering that all the Linking Road hotspots are a hop, skip and jump away. So, the food at this eatery definitely needs to be shaken up, more so given the lack of options. Otherwise, Bourdain's words will have stood the test of time, even if his mortal remains now lie buried.

TIME 12 pm to 1.30 pm
AT Rajpipla, opposite Santacruz police station.

CALL 30151483

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