Mumbai: This Juhu wine bar boasts of variety galore
Swipe your card and pick your poison at the wine ATM, which boasts of 56 varieties at this Juhu bar
We cannot get through the landline to book a table at Wine Villa. A friend, younger in age, quips, "Here, I booked a table on a food app." We walk in on a Wednesday night, and the lady at the reception takes us to our table. What’s with this trend of "witty" quotes on walls taking over restaurant walls? The one at the entrance reads: Hell is empty, because all the angels are here.
Only once we are seated, does our server inform us that the air conditioning of the entire building is off. It is stuffy, but we decide to hang around. The server gives us our ATM card to swipe on the wine tap that offers 56 Indian and international wines. We ask the server to teach us how to man the slot and it’s pretty easy (even if we are technologically challenged). The wall above the wine ATM reads: Wine Me, Dine Me, Sixty Nine Me. The counter below is lined with red wine glasses, while the ones for white wine sit chilling in the cooler below.
We ignore yet another tripe quote and slide the ATM card into the slot, hold up a glass to the nozzle and select our option of 15 or 75 ml of pour. We choose the 15 ml affordable option; so we can taste more varieties. The wine we decide to buy by the glass gets waived off, we learn.
Our first pour is a Chateau Goumin Bordeaux (Rs 101) a blend of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The flavour profile is high on tannins and medium-bodied. We move to Villa Guilia Sangiovese-Rubicon (Rs 91), which has a spicy finish. Among whites, we try a Weingut Jurtschitsch Gruve (Rs 163), an Austrian make which is floral with hints of green apple. But our favourite is the Mannara White Pinot Grigio (Rs 108), which has a more citrusy and zesty mouth.
The process is seamless thanks to the servers’ knowledge which ensures we are able to pick a wine according to our palate. After four wines, we move to twisted illusionist cocktail (Rs 550), which comes under a smoked cloak and a rosemary twig under a tea bag covering that the server lights. Notes of lapsang souchong and whiskey and hints of bitters ensue. The drink is neat, with sweet smoky notes in every sip.
We order a chicken Varuval with yogurt and pomegranate (Rs 495), a Tamil-style semi-dry curry that has a peppery spice. The yogurt dip eases it to an extent, but what we miss is a side of bread. Our snapper with spicy sambal (Rs 625), a main, comes dressed like a starter, and sans a side. The fish literally crumbles at the touch of the fork and melts in the mouth the moment we take a bite. The sambal is garlic-y, fishy and laden with chillies.
For our vegetarian pick, we order crystal wild mushroom and hazelnut dimsum (Rs 445). This is probably the first time we are trying hazelnuts in a dimsum. While we keep thinking of it as a misfit, our companions, a hardcore meat eater, gives the vegetarian dish a double thumbs up.
The Guide first reviewed Wine Villa in October 2018. We conduct select, anonymous follow-ups to assess maintenance of standards
Our dessert is a scatterbrained concoction of an undercooked moong dal halwa - we remember how our nani would insist that the darkened colour was sign of it being well done. The halwa is wrapped and baked in a buttery filo pastry and served with lychee rabdi, which is sweet but without any hint of the fruit.
The wine-on-tap idea is innovative, and the food is wholesome in spite of missing details of sides, but the building, we hear, is in some trouble with most occupants not receiving the footfall they expected. Next time, we’ll insist on booking a table on the landline to confirm if the air conditioning is operational.
AT: Third floor, Hotel Horizon, Juhu Church road, Juhu.
TIME: 12 noon to 1.30 am
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