Mumbai Food: Bandra cafe and bar gets a classic makeover with a twist
An old cafe and bar gets a facelift and we give the new menu with Prohibition-Era inspired drinks and classic fare a thumbs up
Last year, we became fans of House of Nomad after tasting their sharp cocktails and honest food. Now, within the same property, Atrium Bar and Lounge has undergone a makeover. Restaurant manager Jiaan Lam has woven the menu with a classic touch by resurrecting drinks from the Prohibition Era.
The lounge, which used to have a coffee shop-like vibe, now, looks hip with an expansive bar in black and gold finish donned by two grandfather clocks that chime together once a month. You want to be there when that happens, for they mark the occasion with a special cocktail for everyone around. The hotel lobby and the lounge area are separated by a mid-length translucent glass.
The drinks menu is divided into lightly spiked sundowners, non-alcoholic cocktails and cocktails from the golden age. First up, Lam introduces us to white lady (R800). Made famous by two Harrys, it has an interesting back story. The creator of the drink is Harry MacElhone of Harry's New York Bar in Paris, and Harry Craddock included it in his 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Gin, fresh lemon, sugar and egg white come together in a refreshing format. We enjoy the botanical kick it has.
Pendennis special (R800), a vintage cocktail, again gin-based, comes with the deep sweetness of apricot liqueur, peychaud bitters and freshly squeezed lime juice. From Sundowners, we order Americano (R750), a stiff drink made with campari, sweet vermouth and soda, served with a slice of orange.
Bifana slider. Pics/Shadab Khan
Clover club (R800) which has raspberry syrup, lemon and sugar is shaken together before being served. Named after the literary society from the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, and featured in the 1897 book of the same name by Mary R Deacon, this one is too sweet and fruity for our liking.
The food menu complements the bar menu beautifully and chef de cuisine Phillip Kurian has kept it simple. It includes flavourful options that represent a backpacker's journey across Europe, with a focus on Spain and Portugal. "The Indian dishes you see are for the homesick traveller," he adds.
The lounge opens at 8 am so it has a wholesome breakfast menu with eggs to order, followed by a lunch, tea-time and dinner menu. We begin with chicken empanada, which lets out a warm steam when we break through the puff pastry. The confit chicken is marinated with pine nuts and cheese, and served with sour cream and spicy tomato salsa.
We love the roast pumpkin tortellini which is creamy and sweet and comes with vegetable mash that is seasoned with rosemary. Rechado rawas (R925), deep fried and coated with semolina, represents the home front. The fish is flaky inside and Goan rechado masala is sourced from a Bandra-based lady who makes it especially for the hotel, so the authentic spicy-tangy flavours are robust. A side of onion completes the Goan delight.
There's also mini vada pav (R650), complete with ghati masala, green and meetha chutney and the good ol' Mumbai masala sandwich (R800), which he calls the best performing underdog of the menu. The taste is rustic but we're not too kicked about the high price for such raasta favourites.
The bifana sliders (R925) have peri-peri pulled pork belly extracted from a Portuguese slow-braised pork stew and Belgium pork belly marinated for 12 hours. Filled with an apple slaw, salty manchego cheese and toasted sesame, the dish is an unhealthy-but-desirable mess.
Time 8 am to 12.30 am
At Taj Land's End, Bandstand, BJ Road, Mount Mary, Bandra West.
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