BONOBO, BANDRA, MUMBAI
Bandra is infamous for its short-lived restaurants. We Bandraites have seen bars and restaurants shut within months of opening, so we no longer get terribly excited when a new eatery opens. We wait and we watch. But this one offered a novel experience: an “interactive bar”. Did that just mean shaking your own cocktail? We found out.
The good stuff
The airy terrace restaurant, with a lot of room between the tables, was the first thing I noticed. My dinner companion is a diehard cocktail enthusiast, and soon after getting ourselves a table, we headed to the bar.
She chose the Green Tree (Rs300) cocktail and I, Curried Passion Fruit Martini (Rs300), which I got to make myself. It was a first for me and involved filling the base of the cocktail shaker with a few curry leaves, the hot new ingredient in cocktails these days, and then crushing them gently with a manual crusher. I topped the mashed leaves with ice cubes, poured 30ml of vodka, added Triple Sec and passion fruit syrup to taste, and shook the concoction hard. The cocktail connoisseur found it a tad too sweet, but the Green Tree, a divine cocktail of vodka and white wine with basil and lemon grass, washed away the sweet, fruity aftertaste.
The bar needs more jazzing up and the bartenders are sorely lacking in chutzpah. Quite strangely, the restaurant is open air but the bar is not. Shouldn’t it have been the other way round? Making the cocktail on my own under expert supervision seemed more like a chore, rather than a fun thing to do.
From the food menu, we ordered a Mezze Platter (Rs300), Smoked Salmon Crostini (Rs330) and Dijon Herb Shrimp (Rs300) for starters, and Bonobo Chicken (Rs320)—grilled chicken served with dijon mash, thyme mushroom and chicken jus. Except for the Mezze Platter (falafel with hummus, labneh and muhammara), which was perfectly done, we had a gripe about every starter. The topping of the salmon crostini was too salty, the shrimps lacked the flavour of the herbs and the chicken was harder than a regular broiler chicken.
Most starters begin at Rs200 and the main courses range from Rs300 to Rs450. A meal for two with cocktails cost a little over Rs2,000 (inclusive of taxes).
For reservations call 022-26055050
SALT WATER CAFE, BANDRA, MUMBAI
Riyaz Amlani’s Impressario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt. Ltd has consistently given us good eateries, and every time they come up with a new one, we are eager to grab a bite. This one’s called Salt Water Cafe, named after their beachside restaurant Salt Water Grill at Girgaum Chowpatty, which shut about a year ago.
The good stuff
An eclectic menu in a deli, restaurant and a bar—Bandra needed a place such as this. The restaurant is open through the day and has three separate menus besides an all-day menu. Our meal got off to a perfect start with the Prawn Ajillo and the Salmon with Mozzarella that the chef recommended from the bar menu. Prawn and squid in olive oil, lemon and a few spices and juicy salmon with mozzarella—perfect examples of what fresh ingredients and simple spices can do to a dish.
Salt Water Cafe, Bandra.
The chef is obviously inspired by molecular gastronomy—the menu is peppered with dishes such as hot asparagus soup topped with cold white asparagus foam. It had the perfect creamy consistency. The Pan Seared John Dori won us over. This simple fish recipe, served with risotto sprinkled with sunflower seeds and puffed rice for a crunchy bite, will draw us back for sure. The Tiramisu was one of the best we’ve had.
The view of a road under construction and traffic jams spoils the cafe’s relaxed ambience. Wooden benches without backrests do not spell comfort. The bar area upstairs is small and uninviting. The chef’s experiments don’t hit the mark every time. The combination of flavours in the Chocolate Truffle Risotto just did not add up. The lemon tart tasted too sour and graceless though it is, we had to spit out the first bite. The Strawberry Souffle was like having a strawberry-cream flavoured cloud in our mouth, it was way too sweet.
Salads and sandwiches start at Rs180 and go up to Rs400. Pasta and risotto start at Rs220 and in the mains, the chicken and meat dishes are Rs350 onwards. The John Dori is Rs550. (VAT and service charge extra).
For reservations, call 022-26434441