It’s good to be back with yet another exciting post. I’m pretty sure most of you have heard about the much talked about Monkey Bar – Bandra’s newest addition to its many water holes and India’s first gastropub. The men behind it – Award winning chef Manu Chandra and hospitality operations expert Chetan Rampal know what they have in offer to Mumbaikars… with an unconventional and fresh approach towards their bar and food menu, Monkey bar is the Indian avatar of a classic gastropub.
So what’s different about this place, you ask? Well, for starters, Chef Manu Chandra is reputed in the space of regional food. Yes, you read that right! Regional food in a bar space isn’t quite a favoured combination but hey, I’d like to blame it on stereotypical conditioning of our minds.
When I finally checked out the place on a weekday, it was packed, with lots of regional and fusion foods on our table and some great music which only got louder with every passing hour.
I didn’t really go overboard with tasting the drinks because I was on antibiotics and had no choice. Nevertheless, make sure you order something from the MoBar special section from their menu, if you’re looking to get high on something new and unconventionally exciting. The Copper Monkey consisting of 100 Pipers whisky, passion fruit, lime and mint, served in a copper mug definitely is a hot favourite and wins a TGLP Recommendation from me. 🙂
Coming back to the regional food, the menu has so much to offer! What truly impressed me is the variety in the vegetarian section. Being a hardcore non vegetarian myself with a strict vegetarian mother, I always hope for a menu that does justice to not just my preferences but her choices too and this place pretty much does that. The mishmash of flavours, the menu is indeed very unusual with preparations from all across the country – from Dal Pakwan to Mochar Ghonto Chop, their Adhunik Pani Puri is nothing like what your neighbourhood chaat wala would serve. Also, I noticed Jackfruit Biryani on the menu. Yep, there’s enough and more reasons to go back for more.
Here’s a list and my verdict of everything we tasted on that particular night. 🙂
We began our evening with some Butterfly Chicken – sweet spicy crispy bits of chicken with sesame, chilly, honey and peppers, stir-fried and served in their signature butterfly shells. Honestly, this dish could very well become an easy favourite. It’s the perfect kind of finger food to go with your drinks. The shell adds a playful touch of crisp with every bite, so don’t try eating it with cutlery – I noticed a couple on the next table struggling with the same and it wasn’t a pleasant sight.
Laal Maas Phulkas
One of my favourites of the evening, the evidently hyped Laal Maas Phulkas pretty much lived up to my expectations. A little extra spice wouldn’t kill but I guess that’s a very personal preference from my end. Visually depicting indianized tacos, the red chillies and spice braised Bannur lamb is served with mirch achaar mayo, ker sangri sabzi, onions and white radish slaw, garlic and coriander chutney. If you’re a fan of red meat, then didn’t that description tempt you enough?
Up next, we took a shot at the Crab Rangoon. If you love crab but avoid it only because you dread the idea of eating it out of it’s shell, then this might just be your go-to crab craving deactivator. Served as deep-fried wontons, the stuffing includes crab meat and cream cheese (OMG, yes) and is accompanied with 2 sauces – sweet chilli and ginger. Simple yet so flavourful, I could eat this without the sauces and still enjoy it.
Tikki of Joy
Bhetki is one fish I don’t get to eat as often as I’d like to, so when I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to taste Monkey Bar’s version. Unfortunately, it tasted more like an aloo tikki than a bhetki cutlet and that didn’t really fulfil the joyful expectations. I wonder if it was some sort of blend they tried and failed at, but the mustard drizzle from the top didn’t do much for the dish either. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with these Tikkis of Joy and I wait for another day when my bhetki craving will be deactivated soon.
If you’ve been following TGLP religiously and know me enough, you’ll know that I am an ardent fan of seafood… especially prawns. So when a menu entails the same, I know I have to try it. Which brings me to the Bang-alore Prawns we tasted. Although a tad bit too oily, I loved the subtle flavours that came together with the mustard seeds and onions’ tadka tossed along with succulent prawns. The onions were a bit undercooked but the prawns as it is tasted wonderful. A hint of black pepper and coriander only enhances it further. Also, in my opinion, the buttered bread on the side didn’t really serve a purpose.
Butter Chicken Khichdi
I almost thought I read it wrong when I saw Butter Chicken Khichdi on their menu. One can’t honestly imagine two very distinctive preparations like these come together like the way they did. The idea of khichdi definitely changed after this visit; and now I love butter chicken more than ever. A fascinating confluence for sure, this main course is served with papad, kachumbar, ghee, raita and achaar – aka khichdi ke paanch yaar and is a good bet if you haven’t stuffed yourself with finger foods.
PS. The menu says they also have a vegetarian option available.
My favourite main course of the evening, the Prawn Gassi was stunningly gratifying. Served with either idlis or dosas, the homely approach of flavours makes it a unique experience since you’re actually eat it at a bustling bar. The curry consists of prawns and salt roasted onions stewed in coconut, raw mango and aromats and goes perfectly well with home-style dosas & idlis.
Old Monk Chocolate Cake
I guess by now you know what I mean when I say the menu comprises of regional food and fusion finds… Like the Old Monk Chocolate Cake we tasted. It’s gooey yet it’s not a lava cake and the ice cream only makes you want to devour it some more. The sprinkled nuts add a crunch factor and more importantly, the blend of chocolate with the country’s favourite dark rum is a win win situation one wouldn’t mind biting into, often.
Rasmalai Panna Cotta
Even though the name says it all, I believe a dessert as lovely as this deserves attention for all the right reasons. I am not a fan of Indian sweets but I do swear by panna cotta (the vanilla being a classic!). So here I was, ready to check out our next dessert, with of course, a couple of inhibitions on my mind. Being experimental when it comes to my food experiences, I am glad to have given the Rasmalai Panna Cotta a chance because it was delish! The texture and overall feel is that of a panna cotta but the flavours are classically rasmalai. It was easy to love this dessert a bit more with every bite and what better way to end a fun evening like this!
PS. Both the desserts we tasted were eggless so yea, the vegetarians are in for a treat.
This definitely was the first time when I monkeyed around with a whole lot of food and came out feeling absolutely stuffed. The vibes are great but if you’re looking at making conversations at your table, drop in early (by say 8pm?) because the music is bound to get louder as the evening progresses.
Monkey Bar is ideal for a bonafide dining experience which has outdoor as well as indoor seating options and also a variation of the same – from bar stools to cushioned group-friendly tables to regular table and chairs. Works for any occasion, right?
Do share your experience with me when you finally decide to monkey around too! 🙂
Meal for two without alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs. 1200++
Meal for two with alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs. 1800++
Address: Summerville, Junction of 14th & 33rd Road, Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai.
Contact No.: 022 30151853 | 022 26005215