If one takes a good look at the city’s foodscape, chances are one will find more restaurants reinventing Indian cuisine today than until half a decade ago — city favourites such as Bombay Canteen are doing it too. The concept for MasalaBar, Bandra, is me-too at first, but then it’s the latest property by Zoravar Kalra’s Massive Restaurants, which set the benchmark in the department with Masala Library. This one, however, is a bar, mostly serving small plates to go with the drinks, and the only highend eatery on the Carter Road stretch otherwise dominated by QSRs. It offers a lovely view of the sea against the setting sun, before candlelit ambience takes over.
This also sets the mood for drinks. On our visit, we tried their signatures, prepared/ served with elaborate theatrics, as expected. In a tiny corner of the bar, MasalaBar has set up a “lab”. The potions and reductions brewed here are served with much drama. So The Great Hornbys Cloud, a whiskey-based drink, was served under a spice cloud created with the help of a table-friendly apparatus. Sunset @ Carter was a whiskey in a rosemary and orange mix with almond foam. An Evening at Chowpaty, a vodka and coconut mix, was infused with curry leaves fumes.
The drinks were good, especially the ones with whiskey, and the curry leaves flavour worked well with the vodka-coconut mix. But Bollywood Bhaang, a milky concoction, seemed too sweet. And while the theatrics were entertaining, one wonders how that works once the bar is full.
With the food, one has very little to complain about. We stuck mostly to the bar items and were hardly disappointed. The Channa Tempura Chaat (Rs 245), crispy fried chickpeas tossed in spices and served with pine nuts and roasted garlic pods, and the spicy Podi Crusted Onion Rings (Rs 300) were the perfect chakhna to accompany our fancy drinks. The Litti Chokha Profiterolls (Rs 300), their take on the Bihari dish, used gram flour for soft and fresh profiteroles, which came stuffed with aloo chokha mash and a dash of mascarpone. They were our favourite part of the evening.
We were excited about BBQ Pulled Kathal Burger (Rs 300) but were disappointed as the sauces overpowered the flavour of the jackfruit. The Chunky Mutton Boti Galouti Sliders (Rs 350), however, more than made up for that. The boti added texture to what would have been just melt-in-the-mouth galouti, without taking away from the flavour.
There’s also a tiny main course and desserts section, which serves items like risotto phirni (Rs 350), deconstructed, and Baileys Lolipop (Rs 395), prepared using rabdi. However, MasalaBar aims to be a bar first — something it manages to do fairly well.
Meal for two with a drink each: Rs 2,000