Holding the fort
In an area teeming with eateries, a revamped restaurant is a competent addition offering Indian, Chinese and Continental fare and a family-friendly vibe
George will officially launch in August. Pics/Ashish Raje and Dalreen Ramos
When a new restaurant opens in one of the back lanes of Fort — sizable enough to be recognised — it's easy to predict if it will stay a classic or get a pauper's funeral. This, leaving aside how good the food is, also depends on if a space manages to carve a distinct identity for itself. Over a month ago, if you spotted George under construction, a new restaurant at Mumbai Samachar Marg's pretty Raja Bahadur Mansion, the interiors resembled a bluer, modern version of Gaylords. And that's exactly what it looks like if you walk into the restaurant and bar that's now open.
On a Sunday afternoon, the dimly-lit area is vacant barring a family of three. The bar is at the centre, highlighted with chandeliers. The server informs us that George, named after Fort George (given to the remnants of the once-fortified Fort, which this area was a part of), opened in 1971 with Traffic Pub on the mezzanine level. Then it shut shop eight years ago, before taking over both floors in a new avatar this year.
Make in George pizza
The menu is quickly handed over: Too many pages to flip through. The cuisine comprises Indian, Chinese and Continental fare. But after spotting soft tacos and placing an order for the vegetarian variant, the server informs us of its unavailability. He suggests the crispy chicken balls (Rs 320) and drums of heaven (Rs 325) and requests us to wrap up the order as the kitchen will shut shortly. In a rush, a make in George pizza (Rs 425), a baked macaroni and cheese (Rs 480) and a George special khatta meetha (Rs 275) seem like a good idea. Liquor is also unavailable since the bar is awaiting its licence and is likely to procure it in the first week of August when the space officially launches, opening up the mezzanine area.
Mac and cheese
The drink comes first in 10 minutes. It's a refreshing kokum cooler rimmed with chaat masala. Albeit overloaded with ice and a tad expensive for the quantity, the syrup isn't too tangy for a sore throat. The chicken balls, laden in mojo verde red sauce, although plated well with a drizzle of carrot and beetroot sauce, is a disappointment. The coating is too crispy and the minced chicken doesn't melt in your mouth. But the drums of heaven — chicken drumsticks packed with a mixture of garlic and coriander truly lives up to its name. The masala blends well with the tender meat; all six pieces are polished off by the three of us at the table.
Gelling along with its old-school vibe is the music — there's a lot of John Denver. And before we realise we're crooning while we have a go at the pizza and pasta. The former is a star with the mozzarella topping wrapped with sausage and chicken bits, but the crust falls short, as it's too soft. The mac and cheese tells a similar story. While the sauce is superb — giving a whiff of the milk and cheddar — the pasta is undercooked. The chefs are in some hurry, but it's not particularly bothersome. By entertaining queries and being gentle as multiple pictures were clicked, the staff, wearing 'I am George' T-shirts, surely makes one feel at home. And isn't that what the spirit of the city is all about?
George special kala khatta
At George Restaurant and Bar, 20, opposite State Bank Of India, Mumbai Samachar Marg, Fort.
Time 12 pm to 12 am
4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE
George didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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