There has always been a sense of romance associated with The Sea Lounge, the classy tea room in the heritage Palace Wing of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
It has been the venue of many a match making session between South Mumbai families.
For folks growing up in the pre-liberalisation Mumbai, where there were very few five-star hotels, the Sea Lounge at The Taj, was the place to head to for a special date.
The tables by the window, looking out on to The Gateway of India were, and remain, to be most prized.
The staff was very courteous and gentle and would never make you feel rushed even when the place was crowded. The elderly waiters would smile indulgently as young couples would come here with carefully saved up funds from one’s pocket money or first salary.
I remember going there a decade and a half back, with my then to be wife and ordering one plate from the chocolate buffet as two portions would be too expensive. The waiter serving us noticed this and got me another plate, smiled and went away.
When I shared this story on Instagram after a recent visit to the Sea Lounge, someone else reminisced about being given an extra cup when he had ordered a pot of tea for his then girlfriend. Apparently one pot would normally get you one cup only.
The dish of choice for dating couples in the 90s and early 2000s at the Sea Lounge was the Dream Boat.
A dish with a few scoops of ice creams and wedges of brownies in between, doused with chocolate sauce, which the couple would share and feel very posh. A chocolate cigar roll would be put in the dish to give the effect of a gondola.
We went to the Sea Lounge on Sunday and bumped into friends of ours who too had courted over the Dream Boat before they got married. The Dream Boat is not on the menu any more. We were thrilled to discover that the kind folks at the Sea Lounge reprise this dish for those who come here chasing memories.
Except, now that the couples are married they order individual Dream Boats instead of sharing them!
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.