The green interiors

Kamala Mills has transformed over the years into a space offering every imaginable kind of food, drink, and gimmick. When we reach Verbena BrewPub and SkyGarden, we realise that the space takes its name seriously. There is green everywhere, from the delicate creepers on the walls and the mesh ceiling to the little plants in vertical gardens and in small pots on shelves. We reach out to touch a few plants to see if they are real. They are. An island bar separates the indoor and al fresco zones; there’s a fake transistor in one corner and a flying horse in another. We soon realise that there is much to pluck in this garden.

Root Benefits

Herbal high
The food here is organic and includes locally sourced (or freshly plucked) herbs and plants; there’s a healthy section too. The Huevos Rancheros Quinoa (Rs 390) is a light, fresh and colourful salad with interesting texture, thanks to the use of tortilla chips, red onions and beans, with a poached egg yolk acting as dressing. The vegetarian version doesn’t have egg. The Baked Soy Cake (Rs 490), served on a bed of cous cous, has a lovely crunch and a very meaty flavour. The Indonesian Satay Chicken (Rs 490) has an overpowering kaffir lime flavour, but is juicy and pairs well with a sticky chilli jam.

Our favourites are the seafood dishes. The Salmon Kalimirch (Rs 1,375) is cooked perfectly — the fish is pink and has a nice char around the edges. The Chiang Mai Prawns (Rs 825) are big and juicy. The housegrown chervil (a type of parsley) gives it a light freshness that is balanced out by the boldness of the chilli and shiitake mushrooms.

Huevos Rancheros Quinoa

Botany bar
The drinks beg for repeats. Bar consultant Viju Raj has created his own special concoctions such as the The Verbena LIIT (Rs 830). This gets rid of the cola and uses botanical extracts — peppermint, orange and clove, saffron and ginger, and allspice — steeped in liquor for 15 days. The result is a potent flavour that adds a different dimension to the traditional LIIT. Another interesting set of drinks allows you to pick a sorbet flavour and liquor of choice to fuse the two.

The drinks come to us surrounded by dry ice for a bit of drama. It is not needed. Our Yellow Fruit Sorbet has tequila, tangy and sweet mango paired with fresh mint, and saffron for that extra edge. The Dark Fantasy is a heady pairing of balsamic vinegar, vanilla sugar and peppermint, and a strong hand of bourbon.

Yellow Fruit Sorbet

Of the cocktails, we are fascinated by the Citrus Tamarind Tree (Rs 410) which has whiskey, organic orange juice and an intoxicating saffron tamarind jam. It comes served with a ‘tree’ of parsley. The drink of the night, though, is Root Benefits (Rs 470) — a refreshing, drink with beetroot juice, vanilla sugar and gin served with a basil sprig stuffed in a whole lemon. Verbena offers about 35 varieties of e-sheesha (it is nicotine-free). Beer on tap will start in March.