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Is Bandra's newest bar worth a visit? Find out...

Sante, a new bar in Bandra West, could become your go-to place to bury mid-week blues or to resurrect your weekend

As I look at the artistically-hung lamps in the indoor section of Santé, the new bar at Bandra West which replaces retro-pub Ground Zero, I recall drawing diagrams of light bulbs and learning how they work in my fifth standard Physics class. An electric current passes through a filament wire to heat it, until it glows.

Bottle-shaped lamps and wooden interiors lend a cosy touch to Santé. PICS/PHORUM DALAL
Bottle-shaped lamps and wooden interiors lend a cosy touch to Santé. PICS/PHORUM DALAL 

Here the dull yellow incandescent light, and neat wooden interiors, the same old theory is replicated inside bottle-shaped lamps that decorate the bar. While my school friend and I joke about seeing things in a ‘new light’, we spot a blackboard with the day’s specials scribbled in chalk.
I am here on a Tuesday night, and while the Monday blues are gone, the mid-week blues are just round the corner. We settle at a corner table, in the hope to rejuvenate our overworked minds.

As if reading our thoughts, Gaurav Dabrai, co-partner, Santé, orders a Dairy Milk Martini (Rs 295) for us. We’ve had them before, and we know what we need — a hard kick of the spirit and the right dose of chocolate. A bitter swig is finished with the familiarity of cocoa. Cheers!

The Dairy Milk Martini
The Dairy Milk Martini

To keep the flow of cocktails going, we opt for a Jack Black (R295) which comes with freshly-muddled apples, cloves, caramel with whisky and sour mix. The sweetness of caramel goes well with the tartness of whisky. Apple seems to have a better use here than in a pie, one of us jokes.

For our rumbling appetites, we try the Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Chilli Wonton (R200). A relief from the usual bar menu of jalepeno poppers and crispy potatoes, they are stuffed with creamy cheese and sliced chillies — both red and green. They set a calculated fire in our mouths. These crunchy, deep-fried wantons are a must try if you’re craving comfort food with a twist.

As we munch on the appetiser, we try Canned Bull (R425), a cocktail of four spirits, Blue Curacao and Red Bull. Too sweet for our liking, the taste of Red Bull is overpowering. We’d skip this one next time.

While a college group is gulping down shot after shot, we reminisce about school days and embarrassing moments. Memories make you hungry and we call for a Rann Burger (R250) and a French Disconnection Burger (Rs 225).

The former has pieces of roast leg of lamb, marinated in garlic, yogurt, garam masala, chilli powder with hints of saffron. Juicy and succulent, this Afghan delicacy seamlessly disguises as a bar food in a bun, on a bed of lettuce, cheese and onions.

The French Disconnection Burger has sautéd French fries in a sweet and hot honey chilli house sauce. It is then smoked like a barbeque dish. The result is a fusion of South East Asian flavours with a barbequed aftertaste. While fusion foods have been doing the rounds in the city, such as Asian pizzas and Italian sushis, this progressive burger does justice to both cuisines.

The Kheema Ghotala in a Malabari Quesadilla (R225) transports us straight to the streets of Muhammad Ali Road. Shredded tender lamb is marinated in garam masala and cardamom and stuffed in baida naan. Our server suggests we squeeze a wedge of lemon over it. Flaky yet soft, the wholesome naan folds a generous amount of filling inside. The tang of the lemon juice elevates the taste of garam masala and chillies. The chef gets a thumbs up for not attempting to tame this classic street food.

Kheema Ghotala in a Malabari Quesadilla
Kheema Ghotala in a Malabari Quesadilla

As we sit back and attempt to decipher the delicious ‘Ghotala’ that hit us, the last dishes — Fork IT! Paneer Chilly on Noodles (R195) and Chicken Chilly on Noodles (R195) — are placed before us. A sautéed piece of chicken (paneer in the veg version) sits on six mounds of al dente noodles tossed in a hot house sauce. While one of us finds it way too fiery, the other one, who has a more flexible palate, devours it till the last bite. If spicy is not your thing, skip; but if you have a dragon’s tongue, order.

Team Santé, which already owns Copa and Kino’s Cottage, plans to experiment with their present mix-bag menu to garner consumer feedback, based on which they will introduce a full-fledged menu. But we don’t think you should wait till then. Slide into a corner table for an intimate conversation in the yellow ambiance outdoors, or simply hit the bar.

We cannot rate the experience as it was a preview.

At: Santé C’est La Vie, ground floor, 164, Hill Road, Bandra W
Service: Well-informed 
Food: Comforting
Ambiance: Lively 
Call: 61322222

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