It has been in existence for 100 years,pampering palates and occasionally modifying the menu to gel with the changing food habits taking care to not camouflage its original flavour.
Sassanian Boulangerie has everything that makes up the quintessential Irani cafe: bun maska with chai,pudding and the jolly bespectacled Parsi man at the counter.
Sassanian,which turns 100 this year,remains one of the few remaining Irani cafes in the city and has retained its old-world charm.
Started by Rustom Yazdabadi in 1913,Sassanian was in 1947 taken over by the Kola family,which continues to manage the cafe.
Meheraban Kola,who has been looking after the cafe after his father died over 10 years ago,recalls how,for all these years,Sassanian has been a part of the breakfast of every person in living in the vicinity.
The cafe used to open at 5 am and the within a couple of hours,people would start streaming in to purchase bakery items to take back home,or sit and have bun maska and chai as they flipped through newspapers. The Irani jockeys in pre-Independence days would visit us every morning for their cup of chai before heading for Mahalaxmi racecourse for their polo matches, Kola says.
Apart from selling essential bakery products and tea,the cafe at one time doubled as a provision store as well.
The cafe would stock hair products,tooth brushes,pastes,chocolates and soaps. It even held a record of sorts for selling the maximum number of Polsun butter packs over a period of few years.
In the 1960s they stopped selling grocery items and became a full-fledged cafe. Even today,what they sell best are what the favourites were 100 years ago: plum puddings,mawa cakes and of course,Irani chai.
In 1990,Sassanian expanded its menu and introduced chicken rolls,pastries etc.A few years later,they introduced chinese cuisine and dhansak which is a favourite among most regulars. During Easter and Christmas,this place is packed for orders of hot cross buns and cakes, says Deepak Rao,a history professor and a regular at the cafe and who often brings his students to Sassanian to give them a taste of Bombay.
Unlike many of the Irani cafes which have either shut down or have been revamped to cater to a slightly high-end section of the eating-out community,Kola has no such plans for his beloved Sassanian.
He is attached to every part of the place,including the polished bentwood chairs imported from Poland which have been there since the cafe first opened.
Just because a place is air-conditioned and has fancy interiors does not mean it is satisfactory for the customer. Here,at regular prices,we provide fresh food and in substantial proportions. One can just drop in for a cup of tea and relax in the cool interiors inside. Our patron list ranges from lawyers to high-ranked police officials and college students to office-going crowds.
It is the authenticity of the place that has made it run for so many years and hopefully,for many more years to come says Kola.