By the bay, no more jazz
Jazz has been erased and it's not just from the name of this restaurant. Talent thrived in this area about half a century ago, when live bands performed at bars and bistros all the way down this road. Now, ambiance and cuisine take centre stage
With a makeshift canopy at the entrance and white boards inscribed with a polite note asking customers to bear with them as they complete renovations, Pizza by the Bay doesn’t seem to have any trouble drawing the throngs. Braving scowls, we maneuvered past a small group to the glass doors at lunchtime over the weekend, only to have a stewardess armed with a clipboard regretfully inform us that we may have to wait for half an hour. The place was bustling. Half an hour seemed a tad optimistic. We would return on a weekday.
Much better! Curious passers-by walked in to examine the chic space, occasionally, and small groups occupied a few tables at the other end of the room. We had our pick of tables, by the bar. A couple of velvet-cushioned jazz stools positioned on a sliver of a wooden stage added a splash of colour on the otherwise all-white canvas.
“But it’s for show, that’s all — no live acts,” our server informs us. Elvis, Huey Lewis and The News, Freddie Mercury and a string of assorted ’80s artists preserved in an iPod, did however infuse a touch of nostalgia as did a mirror near the bar, etched on which is a list of the place’s previous avatars — our Iced Tea even came with a Talk of the Town stirrer — though, aside from this writer, no one present seemed to notice or care.
Atop the extensive menu, the name of the restaurant is inscribed across a black and white image of the bay in a font that reminds us of an old American TV show — Miami Vice, perhaps? We can’t stop thinking about it, until our Gorgonzola and Poached Pear Salad (Rs 350) arrives but after that, the food occupies us, entirely.
The rocket is fresh and the sweet pears and beetroot complement the sharpness of the cheese wonderfully. We would go back for more. A Scampi and Avocado appetiser, or to be specific, three spicy but insufficiently seasoned prawns on a bed of pulped avocado and pita served with a mild Thousand Island dip was less impressive (Rs 400), and the pizza — a simple Margherita (Rs 575) — was very good if not a tad too sweet. Don’t let the one-page menu fool you, the variety is tremendous and everything looks appealing enough to sample.
The dessert list is interesting despite the inclusion of that now-tiresomely familiar “molten chocolate” dessert. We ordered three desserts, two and a half really, given that we picked one Blueberry Panacotta (Rs 225) off their list of “small desserts.” It was not small. It was also not great. We enjoyed the Tiramisu (Rs 265), and the Banoffee Surprise (Rs 225) was lip smacking. The surprise in the dessert, we thought, would be the scoop of vanilla ice-cream that replaced the traditional pastry or biscuit component, but the real surprise, and a lovely one, was the perfectly-prepared toffee.