Grin and beer it

Updated: Feb 10, 2020, 09:15 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A revamped Bandra bar serves incredibly cheap IMFL drinks, but offers a mixed bag when it comes to food.

African grilled chicken
African grilled chicken

Food: Average
Ambience: Loud
Service: Excellent
Cost: Reasonable
Verdict: 1/4

Let's start with a confession. Take us to the classiest fine-dine that serves exotic cocktails with all sorts of essences and infusions, and chances are that we'll still opt for a domestic brand of beer. Go ahead. Call us unrefined. Give us a catty look while you sip on your elderflower gimlet. But you'll still hear us telling the server, "A pint of the mild brew, please." There's something so comforting about this drink that it puts us at ease with every sip. Others might prefer more new-fangled beers. But our love affair with the old favourite is only growing stronger with each gulp. The philosophy is simple enough — if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Rum-infused barbecue lamb cubes
Rum-infused barbecue lamb cubes

So imagine our happiness when we open the menu at Bora Bora Duty Free, a revamped Bandra bar, and find that our favourite pint is priced at '100. That's a mere '10 above MRP! Head out to any other similar establishment and you'd dish out at least '250 a pop. Even the other IMFL drinks on this special menu are priced just a notch higher than what you'd pay at wine shops. So without further ado, we ask for the usual and survey the scene around while waiting for a friend who's stuck in traffic.

Now, if you've ever been to the Bora Bora outlet at Juhu or to the earlier avatar of this new-look Bandra joint, you'd know that things get so loud at night that you'd struggle to hear the person sitting next to you. And it's no different while we are there for this review. The speakers in the al fresco smoking area are blaring chartbusters that teenyboppers and 20-somethings are singing along to. There is a table next to us from where raucous laughter collectively rises above the rest of the cacophony. An army of staff members is scurrying around with attentive eyes and an eager-to-please attitude. And we have just asked for the third pint when the friend arrives ready with a host of excuses for her inordinate delay, which we graciously accept.

Despacito. (Right) Draught beer
Despacito. (Right) Draught beer

She's not a beer person, and thus asks for despacito ('395), a whiskey-based cocktail with orange peels, sugar syrup and apple juice. Well, more fool her, since this drink is so sweet that you might as well have it for dessert. A well-made cocktail should ideally have a subtle hint of the flavours without any one ingredient overpowering the palate. But here, the sugar syrup and orange peels take centre stage while the whiskey and apple juice are relegated to the shadows. So, she labours through it while we polish off our pint with a contended gulp, before we decide on what to eat.

The two dishes we choose are African grilled chicken ('345) and rum-infused barbecue lamb cubes ('495). The chicken arrives first. The only benchmark we have to compare it with is a joint in Marine Lines where we once had an excellent African meal. But if this dish here is "African", then dhokla is a Chinese treat. The flavours are almost Indian and, unfortunately, not very good. Such that we put it aside after a couple of bites and even decide against packing it up for later on.

Pics/Ashish Raje
Pics/Ashish Raje

The lamb cubes save the day, though. The rum lends each piece a measured sweetness that the sugary cocktail we tried earlier should have embodied. The meat is also tender despite retaining its chewiness. The dish makes for a perfect bar bite, and you'd do well to ask for it with your choice of drink from the duty-free menu.

And all said and done, that menu is the best part about this watering hole. There is no other joint in the vicinity — not even Bandra's famed dive bars like Janata and Yacht —where you can get three pints of beer for '300. So the next time you head out in the Queen of the Suburbs, don't burn a hole in your pocket. Start your night here. Trip on their list of incredibly cheap drinks. And finally move on to the next place once you've had enough of the chartbusters and feel the need for some peace and quiet.

Time 12 pm to 1 am
At 155, Waterfield Road, Linking Road, Bandra West.
Call 50646820

4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 Very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.5/4 Average. Bora Bora Duty Free didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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