A writer’s always editing, and not just on the job. The breed finds all written word, everywhere, fit for consumption (or criticism) — the back of trucks, billboards, and even restaurant menus. The more fastidious lot, we hear, don’t spare emergency signs at hospitals either.
So, when we find a lounge and bar in Bandra where at least 100 framed news cuttings hang from the ceiling, we are delighted. The Daily, which opens tomorrow, hopes to be Bandra’s answer to “good news and great times” according to its co-founder, Dishant Pritamani. Pritamani says he spent the last few months scouring newspapers for positive and quirky news to put up at The Daily’s walls and even the restrooms (we lurk a bit longer in there while reading about the 94-year-old man who sired a son. And no, the editor inside us found no errors). The Daily’s interiors, done up in rosewood, have been designed by the Busride Studio.
We decide to begin with the appetisers and the cocktails, which promise to be unusual at The Daily. The ever-affable and excitable man behind The Daily’s bar, Topson Pires, places the Banana and Passion Daiquiri, a tiki cocktail on the table. We are bowled over at first sip — the rum-based drink hits you, of course, but first for its blend of flavours and then for its alcohol content. Next comes the Orange and Dil Mojito, again prepared with great care and balance.
Next, we turn to the Loaded Nachos. Splashed with salsa sauce, black lentils, and cheese, the nachos will not fail to impress even the most regular nachos eater. The Lemon Pepper Fish has a great texture, is well-seasoned and has the deliciousness that comes with subtlety alone.
One of us, who is usually sceptical of sea food at bars because he feels not enough attention is paid to dishes anyway, is surprised at the attention to detail. And honestly, we expect chicken wings (Spicy Chicken Nibblers) at a place like The Daily. So we are glad when we see that the chef has tried to raise the bar by coating them crisp with barbeque sauce. Only the Cheesy Quesadillas are a tad disappointing and could do with a more distinct character. No one ingredient or flavour stands out to buttress its otherwise-delicious smoky taste.
Nearby, we notice Pires playing with smoke, catch the word ‘molecular cocktail’, and head to the bar again. He picks vodka, passion fruit and orange smoked with kaffir lime and basil to make the molecular concoction, Oriental Passion. It does exactly what Pires claims — you taste some flavours and inhale some others, and the experience is heady, just the way we like it. Other flavours that seem raided from the kitchen and thrown in to impress include Gypsy Queen, made of vodka, orange and bay leaf. Pires will also serve the US Prohibition Era drinks (drinks prepared during the national ban on alcohol sale and manufacture between 1920 to 1933 in the US) at The Daily.
The Daily’s main course includes Sundried Tomato Risotto with grilled vegetables, Penne in Paprika and Cream Sauce and Pan seared Basa. The fish, we could tell by now, was something The Daily’s chef, Liton Bhakta, does really well. And we were right — the basa was tender and delicious. The risotto — a dish we are extremely wary because not everyone really gets it right — is nailed by Bhakta. The penne, too, was generous and knew its flavours well.
Clearly, The Daily has its drinks on its mind, and we wonder what Bhakta tries to achieve with his food — the grub at the lounge and bar goes beyond the regular quick bites. He replies with a shy smile and says though he’d love to go wild with beetroot and saffron risotto and bake his own bread, he’s prepared to take it easy at first. But in no way, he adds, will the food at The Daily be predictable, safe or reserved in its menu and flavours. We trust him.
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