Restaurant review: Mahalaxmi gets a new lounge bar

Lower Parel is too crowded and town is too expensive? A new lounge, Tonic, that is tucked away in a bylane of Mahalaxmi, might become your weekday go-to place

Metallic walls, upholstery to match, projector screens and 3D mapping on the walls and cocktails that are called Passionate Orange, Swimming Pool and Mad Scientist, it’s got all the signs of a hip suburban bar, ready for music nights and match days. The food at these places, you’d expect, would be greasy, loaded with cheese, high on carbs and run of the mill. At Tonic, the new lounge in the same space as Auriga, the story is a little different.

Roasted Bell Peppers, Micro Greens and Pesto
Roasted Bell Peppers, Micro Greens and Pesto

For our exclusive preview, Chef Ameya Mahajani, who has at some point fed almost every professional working at Lower Parel during his stint at Meal Box Café, laid out a spread that was simple, subtle and hearty.

Passionate Orange Cocktail.
Passionate Orange Cocktail. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

The start of the tasting was limp, quite literally. The Tempura Prawns with a sweet chilli dip (Rs 450) was by far the most disappointing dish of the afternoon. The prawns although cooked well were let down by the batter that wasn’t light, thin, crunchy and airy like Tempura should be. For the six-piece portion, it wasn’t worth the price.

Flavour play
Prawns aside, the rest of the tasting was quite the treat. The platter full of crostini topped with Roasted Bell Peppers, micro greens and a delicious pesto (Rs 250) was a vegetarian’s delight. In fact, we’d order that over the Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Caper Crostini (Rs 500). There was nothing wrong with the Salmon appetiser; it was subtle, moist and full of flavour. It’s just that we’re absolute fans of Chef Ameya’s Pesto sauce from his Meal Box days. The other star dish of the evening was the Cottage Cheese Steak Ratatouille (Rs 450). The price may seem a bit steep for a cottage cheese dish, but the big portions and the bold flavours made up for it. The highlight of the dish was the rustic, bold, garlic-ey Ratatouille made with aubergines, zucchini, bell peppers, olives, pine nuts heaped on top of a hunk of creamy, moist cottage cheese steak.

Tonic’s interiors exude a metallic vibe
Tonic’s interiors exude a metallic vibe

Raise the bar
The Black Pepper Basa (Rs 425) coated in a sticky Oriental sauce might be great bar food, but we thought it was strictly passable. The huge portion of Thai Spiced Chicken (Rs 380), with a liberal dose of fresh red chillies, subtle flavours of coconut and tender chicken pieces, on the other hand, would definitely be a hit with the beer guzzlers.

Cottage Cheese Steak Ratatouille
Cottage Cheese Steak Ratatouille

One of our other favourite dishes was the steamed Broccoli, Corn and Cheese Dumplings (Rs 260). Delicate rice paper sheets rolled into perfect dumpling stuffed with the crunchy broccoli, soft and moist corn and sticky cheese, this one may seem a misfit in a bar, but is definitely recommended for those who appreciate subtle, authentic, Oriental flavours.

While the food at Tonic is good, especially the vegetarian options (trust us, it’s rare), the Cocktails (average at Rs 350) disappoint. Heavy on tropical flavours from pineapple, coconut to strawberries and kiwi, the drinks are not boozy enough and can be cloyingly sweet. Ask the bartender to go easy on the sugar and syrups.

Tucked away in a quiet lane, Tonic with its decent food, spacious interiors, an airy al fresco section and menu prices inclusive of taxes, is a great post-work lounging option, before you hit the dance floor at the next happening party in town!

At: Dr E Moses Road, Famous Studio Lane, Mahalaxmi.
Time: All days post 5.30 pm (Happy hours till 11 pm from Sunday to Thursday)
Call: 43472505/8

This was a preview and hence, not conducted anonymously.

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