It was not even a weekend and I could hear the buzz inside Monkey Bar Bandra, from the road, as I stepped out of my vehicle.
New in Mumbai, after making its debut in Bengaluru in 2012, this gastro pub is already the talk of the town. Oops! Suburbs.
The place was teeming with youngsters and even a few older couples and friends. I was almost transported to a pub in Europe. The bar counter was packed as many people stood there, sipping their beers or cocktails.
I settled for an Aam Panna strongly recommended to me, as I was not having any alcohol. My partner opted for a Masala soda. My aam pana was a bit too salty and synthetic. Nothing to write home about.
Our Peppered calamari rings arrived along with the prawn pickle and pao. The calamari was fresh and well fried, with a dash of garlic, curry leaves, spices et al, which was good to whip up an appetite. The prawn pickle was delicious, but not exactly a balchao. The kadak pao or brun pao was too kadak for my liking and a tad too chewy. These perked up our taste buds nevertheless.
The menu was quirky and unusual. Loaded Nachos, Butterfly Chicken, Tikki of Joy and Goan Chorizo Pao. Also Char-grilled burgers, a delicious selection of small plates, soul-satisfying main courses to cater to every palate, cocktails in Nutella jars and copper tumblers, as well as delicious desserts.
The pricing struck me as affordable and the dishes innovative with the right twist. Everyone seemed to be having a good time without a care in the world. A great place to unwind and relax.
I loved Chef’s value addition to the Indian dishes, as well as regional favourites like Laal Maas Phulkas, served with mirch achar, ker sangri sabji and coriander chutney or Aunty Pereira’s sorpotel pickle pot. Innovation at its best!
Even the mains were unique. We settled for a Butter chicken khichdi which was abundantly flavourful and comforting. Well presented too. But it was the Jackfruit biryani that was the star of the evening. Aromatic, with subtle flavours, it was appetizing to the core. Good portions too. Well-prepared succulent pieces of jackfruit and the delicately flavoured biryani rice, were married perfectly. I am never going to miss a Mutton biryani again.
Other fun dishes were Chandraji’s Mutton Curry Balti (a succulent mutton dish served with Gobindobhog rice), Peshavari Chicken Chaapli and Via Amritsar (a really cool take on the humble aloo vadi); hearty meals for meat lovers like the In ‘N Out (Monkey’s version of Scotch eggs),Duck Boti Roti (Peking-inspired duck confit and egg baida roti served with onions and mint chutney), Crab Rangoon etc.
Chef Manu Chandra has really let his imagination run riot and yet, kept his food so authentic and of great quality. No element of monotony at all in the menu. Absolutely laudable.
The Rasmalai Pannacotta was a bit of a dampner as the flavours were not upto the mark and did not appeal to us. The Chocolate popcorn proved to be our saviour. One can never go wrong there.
The exposed walls, cosy nooks and corners, mismatched, yet warm, lights and fixtures, all culminate in giving a fun, yet warm appeal to this place. It beckons you instantly, making you relax and enjoy. And we were no exception. We stepped out after a fun evening.
Rating : 4/5