Hic, hic hurray

Updated: Feb 12, 2020, 09:41 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A bar in Chembur serves excellent cocktails at cheap prices, though the food evokes mixed reactions

Carbon nachos
Carbon nachos

Food: Average
Ambience: Dive
Service: Promising
Cost: Reasonable
Verdict: 1/4

We walk into Sandy's Den, a bar within a mall complex in Chembur, to find four musicians occupying the tiny central area, performing non-offensive tunes. Even though it's a Thursday night, the place is packed to the brim. A staffer says initially that we'll have to wait a while for a table. But then another person seats us at the far end of a long table, right next to the musicians. We settle down and ask for the menu, even as the band starts wrapping up their show.

The food at this place involves a mix of bar bites, Indian fare and continental dishes. The first thing that strikes us, though, is an obsession with activated charcoal that the place has. Everything from pizzas to chapatis has a "carbon" option included. Curious to find out how good or bad this idea is, we ask for the carbon nachos, apart from masala peanuts — a classic bar staple — and a margherita pizza for the mains. From the drinks section, we opt for a whisky sour, white wine sangria and long island iced tea.

Whiskey sourWhiskey sour

The drinks arrive in the blink of an eye. The waiter had confirmed before hand that we like our whisky sour with egg in it, and for a mere Rs 219, it's a perfectly competent version. The drink has the right amount of froth and a pleasant zing from the lemon juice. But the sangria suffers from the use of inexpensive wine, though we weren't expecting much more given that it's priced at only Rs 229. In fact, even the long island iced tea is equally cheap. This one, though, is an excellent concoction where the potency is evident in every single sip.

Long island iced  teaLong island iced  tea

The food is also served in a jiffy. The charcoal lends the nachos (Rs 190) a black colour, and each piece is filled with crunchy goodness. The combination of cheese, bell peppers and salsa is lip-smacking and we polish off the plate in no time at all.

The peanuts (Rs 90) are a bit too bland. You'd get better versions in dive bars, because this one here fails to get the right spice mix. It's not that the dish is the have-one-bite-and-shove-it-aside type. It's just that it doesn't have the right tangy flavour that we were hoping for.

picMargherita pizza

The margherita pizza, meanwhile, is neither here nor there. The crust is a tad too thick and there is an overdose of cheese. The flavour is subtle, and while we wouldn't go as far as to say that a local from Naples — where the dish (Rs 260) was invented — would give it a thumb's up, chances are that the person wouldn't turn his nose up either.

Masala peanuts Masala peanuts 

So overall, Sandy's Den is a nice enough addition to Chembur's nightlife. A person approaches us after we have paid the bill and introduces himself as Sandeep Shetty aka Sandy, the owner of the establishment. He tells us that his father runs the popular Sandeep Restaurant and Bar in Mulund, while he opened this place to fulfill a long-cherished dream he had ever since he worked behind a bar in London. The joint is down the road from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Sandy says that he gives its students a special discount. But given how cheap the prices are, you wouldn't feel the pinch even if that offer doesn't apply to you. So, we suggest that you drop in to the place the next time you're in Chembur.

Time 12 pm to 12.30 am
At Sandy's Den, Shop 10/11, Vasant Vihar Complex, next To Cubic Mall, Chembur.
Call 7304608592

Food review rating: 4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE

Sandy's Den didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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