Colaba in Mumbai is home to the pan-Arabian restaurant Maffy's, designed by Jatin Hukkeri
Named after a fictional character, it traverses a culinary landscape that covers the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean
A minute’s amble just south of the iconic Gateway of India is a swathe of colour and cuisine that transports you to the souks of Marrakech and its ilk. The Pan Arabian/Mediterranean restaurant occupies part of the ground floor of the Hotel Sea Palace in Colaba, Mumbai. It is named ‘Maffy’s’ after a fictional character who scours the faraway lands in search of epicurean adventures. His travels are said to be a reflection of the various journeys that owner Mufiz Rakhangi has embarked upon, around the world. It traverses a culinary landscape that covers the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean.
The restaurant has been divided into four distinct zones – one indoor and three alfresco – and as you enter Maffy’s, you are welcomed by the alfresco spaces. The two areas to the front of the hotel building give you a view of the sea and the Gateway of India. Besides being a relaxed and casual space, it also has a live counter that dishes out specialties from the menu. One end of the open area is lined with stone pillars, and the entry to the outdoor space also has a rather large stone centrepiece with flowing creepers.
The third alfresco area, which is on the left of the building, is reminiscent of a shamiana (cermonial tent) with flowing drapery on the ceiling and strings of light bulbs interspersed with crystal globes that give it a festive ambience. This space is peppered with a mix of seating styles, where guests have the options of sofas or straight-back chairs. Colourful cushions in lively prints and patterns dot the seating to ensure that guests have long and leisurely meals here.
Walking into the indoor part of Maffy’s, your eye is first drawn to the blue wall facing you with its collection of small sculptures of the classic Hand of Fatima – a symbol that is a protective sign, believed to bring happiness, good health and fortune to all around. Sheer curtains drape the edges of this wall, giving it a sense of depth. The other walls have a range of paintings as well as decorative mural work in patterns of colourful, floral vines. Also adorning the walls are the classic blue-and-white patterned dining plates, characteristic of the Mediterranean region.
The ceiling design draws inspiration from Morocco with its seamless floral patterns, lined with mirrored wooden arches. The lighting is simple and subdued, and it takes a second look to realise that the lampshades above each table are actually a tasteful take on the inimitable Turkish fez cap. Since it is located in an older building, the restaurant has a huge floor-to-ceiling height that elevates the grandeur and spaciousness of the place. Though Maffy’s does not serve alcohol, there is a quaint little bar in the corner that serves up some eclectic mocktails that incorporate the flavours of the region.
The palette of colours incorporated in the restaurant design mimics the Pan Arabian region with earthy and marine hues. “The design of the restaurant represents a variety of elements from various countries, which Maffy’s has travelled and visited during his culinary journey. The restaurant design is modern…as well as it keeps the traditional and authentic elements from each country, which makes it more lively,” explains Rakhangi. “The whole idea behind the design elements and [the brilliant] colours was to make the restaurant more vibrant and transport the guests back to the bylanes of the Arabic world.”
Be it the upholstery, the drapery, the flooring or the paint – colour plays the hero in the design story of this restaurant. “Deep shades of Flamingo and Teal were the primary colours chosen for the project,” says the man responsible for the design, Jatin Hukkeri from WDA, “We carried out extensive research of spaces which have a parallel existence – in the Middle East, North Africa and South East European regions. We dug deep into internet reserves and looked up personal archives from my travel to all these countries, which were extremely instrumental in arriving at the right marriage of materials and design elements in the shortest possible time span.”
The design brief was to create a space that was in sync with the gastronomic sensibilities of the restaurant, to be able to assimilate a suitable hospitality design from all the geographic regions where food had been hand-picked to be served at Maffy’s. All this was achieved “by maximising the space available in the alfresco area and by putting together the right set of furniture, apt drapery, wall murals, choice of colours, choice of lights – all of which were in complete consonance with the brief,” discloses Hukkeri, adding that most of the lights used in the space are power-saving LEDs. Also, the fabric element used in the alfresco area to provide shelter from weather conditions is cotton, again a sustainable material.
Maffy’s is a gastronomical and visual treasure chest – and though it is situated a road’s-width away from the appropriately named Arabian Sea, it does take you on a magic carpet ride to the land of genies and Aladdin.