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Updated: Dec 02, 2019, 09:43 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani | Mumbai

First look: Restaurateur Avik Chatterjee's new bar turns the rules of old-world gymkhanas on its head

A common signage that is flashed in films to recap the mood during the days of the Raj is 'Dogs and Indians not allowed'. While the British left India, what remained was the nature of segregation across its clubs and gymkhanas.

This is what restaurateur Avik Chatterjee, 27, is keen to change with his new bar, Episode One. Located in Powai, it's an offshoot of the Kolkata outpost that opened six months back. "The Bengal Club continues to retain strict rules from the past. I am not allowed entry for breakfast if I am wearing jeans. With such practices, these spaces have kept younger members away. I want to change that with Episode One," he says.

The bar will serve four curated cocktails on tap. Pics/Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Being a Mumbaikar who also has a home in Kolkata, Chatterjee is aware of the gymkhana culture in both cities, and has cheekily played on tiny details. For example, a portrait of a bubblegum-blowing British aristocrat hangs behind the concierge desk. Inspired by ballrooms, verandah spaces and dining halls at gymkhanas, the bar is divided into sections, separated by islands of plants.

The ballroom area will be rid of its tables on weekends when DJ sessions take over; The chambers is a club-style dining area. The 8,000 sq ft space has a separate glass-walled section called The Veranda where Chatterjee will host high tea sessions, and a separate Bidi Room for smokers. Chatterjee has collaborated with artist Sajid Wajid Shaikh, whose hand-drawn illustrations form the backdrop of the bar, while artist Hanif Qureshi's installation announces 'Brown is Beautiful' to patrons.

The bar will serve four curated cocktails on tap. Pics/Dhara Vora Sabhnani
The bar will serve four curated cocktails on tap. Pics/Dhara Vora Sabhnani

One of the highlights is their bar, The Taproom, where cocktails will be served on tap, using custom-designed tanks that will ensure the consistency of every drink is maintained. "Cocktails can be ordered in different sizes and can be tweaked to a light or strong preference," says Shishir Rane, head of beverages. Rane has designed four such taptails, each meant for a different kind of drinker.

Berries and rose (R495 for 500 ml) is a vodka cocktail that uses a cranberry shrub and a red berry tea mix, all the infusions and shrubs are made in-house. The lychee lemongrass carbon lemonade is a take on the lemonade served with chutney sandwiches at gymkhanas. For a lighter option, pick the blue tea and gondhoraj (R595) gin cocktail made with gondhoraj lemons grown at Chatterjee's home in Kolkata. "My father [restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee] is particular about gondhoraj lemons, such that even though he isn't into gardening he's planted a lemon tree at our home and gifts them to guests," says Chatterjee.

Avik Chatterjee
Avik Chatterjee

For food, there's a croissant version of chicken dumplings (R375) where mini croissants are served with a chicken stuffing. Our favourite is the truffle mushroom bun (R345), a visually delightful plate with light-as-air buns. Chatterjee loves sliders and has included a dish he tested during his student days in London — Cheetos crusted chicken slider (R125 per piece; they also do a veg version) — for which he imports a particular hot flavour of the snack.

Chatterjee recommends the chicken meatballs (R375) that were inspired by the malai chicken tikka at the Tollygunge Club. Dunked in truffle malai sauce, it has a sprinkling of aloo bhaja. The small plates section has influences from Tangra Chinatown in Kolkata, and Asia. If in the mood for a heavier meal, wood-fired pizzas (smoked duck, R495; spicy margarita, R445), pastas and risottos or Asian curries come to the rescue.

Delphi Building, Orchard Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai

At Delphi Building, Orchard Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. (Opens on December 3)
Time 12 pm to 1 am
Call 7506813554

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