A spot of sea blue in the bylanes of Worli Koliwada is abuzz again as a once-popular restaurant and bar reopens with new flavours and the same classic vibe
A new invitation to an old haunt and the promise of a good meal has us wandering down the gullies of Worli Village, in search of Slink & Bardot on a sweltering Thursday. Past a fleet of fishing boats, before the path narrows into a cluster of hutments, stands the aqua blue façade of Thadani House. It houses the resto bar that’s starting a new innings after a pandemic-induced pause. Slink & Bardot, we’re reminded, has now moved on from being a modern French eatery. But its spirit lingers on, we find as we step into its arched doorway. Divorced from its Koli neighbourhood, the charming bungalow — a textile factory in the 1950s — can easily tempt you with a rewind ticket to the house parties and clubs of 1920s’ Paris.
Me so morel
You’d have to be negotiating a mild hangover of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) to imagine that the chequered tile corridor leads you to a rogue-red bar that could have hosted the Fitzgeralds, or that Cole Porter could’ve well played the grand ol’ piano in the far end of the room. This lived-in intimacy wraps us around as the new host and partner, Vicky Singh, gives us the tour of the four dining areas and a hideout bar under a skylight. Singh joined hands with restaurateur friend Riyaaz Amlani to give the eatery that opened in 2017, a new lease of life. “By the time the second wave hit, Nick Harrison and Alexis Gielbaum, who were running the space, took a call to move back home [abroad]. Vicky and I hang out quite often, and it occurred to us to do something together. A place like this needs a particular sensibility and he had some wonderful ideas,” explains Amlani, CEO and MD of Impresario Handmade Restaurants.
As a nod to its flavourful past, the 120-seater space now offers a host of personal plates, small plates, large plates and desserts, not bound by cuisine but by influences across borders, Singh says. “That’s how we eat even at home, right? We don’t want to restrict you to courses; it’s an unshackling experience,” he shares.
Jackfruit; (right) aeropress negroni
Like all good things, we kick off our meal with a drink — jackfruit (Rs 750) — by head mixologist Santosh Kukreti, who’s designed a bar menu inspired by the history of cocktails. With the purple-hued jackfruit, he manages to craft the distinctive sweet notes of the summer staple without any of the fruit at all. A blend of feni, pineapple, lemongrass, kaffir lime, coconut milk and rum, it’s one of those drinks you linger on. Complementing its freshness is executive chef AliAkbar Baldiwala’s tropical ceviche (Rs 160) — sweet pineapple doused in bold gochujang and a sharp wasabi buttermilk. Next up from the bite-sized personal plates section — an economical pick to pair with drinks — is an umami bomb from Kashmir, me so morel (Rs 310), that packs a miso custard, odd scraps of the mushroom and is glazed with morel water. It’d be hard to stick to one portion. We wish we could say the same about the wing (Rs 180), the chef’s take on the classic chicken wings with goji berries and fermented berry hot sauce that is a tad too sweet. We remedy this with the gin and campari-based aeropress negroni (Rs 1,200). An ode to the Italian cocktail from 1919, this boozy drink will literally wake you up to smell the coffee.
Vicky Singh and Riyaaz Amlani
Chef Baldiwala’s fare, apart from infusing influences from across the world, is also a play on his memories. This nostalgia comes alive in a tiny bowl of quail egg (Rs 180) showered with meat floss or gustava, a Bohri delicacy and a culinary art of preservation that’s slowly fading. The egg-y treat is quite a mouthful with the crispy buff gustava, a peanut podi and tamagoyaki foam. Similarly, as a hat-tip to his time in Goa, buff toast (Rs 445) brings together a smooth pastrami-like beef tongue over a tangy kasundi sourcream that we’d love to return for.
Chequered tiles, opulent chandeliers and dark distressed pastel shades lend a vintage touch to the space. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
For mains, we enjoy the eggplant (Rs 575) — smoky, sweetish and wholesome, with pomegranate molasses. As we round off the visit with the light and coconut-ty passionfruit and yuzu tart (Rs 395) and head out of the aqua blue bungalow, we’re grateful that this old-world hideout has decided to come back to the party.
Slink & Bardot
Opens June 3; 6 pm to 1.30 am; Mondays closed
At Thadani House, 329/A, Worli Village.