Music composers Dhruv Ghanekar and Ashutosh Phatak, film-makers Mahesh Mathai and Srila Chatterjee, and former investment banker Simran Mulchandani played a wild card when they opened blueFROG in Mumbai in 2007. It revolutionized the city’s indoor live music scene, hosting greats ranging from Zakir Hussain to the Austrian beatboxing group Bauchklang, while also providing a platform to up and coming performers. It was only a matter of time before a second edition was due.
BlueFROG New Delhi, which opened on Thursday, is situated in a 100-year-old sarai (traveller’s inn), overlooking the Qutab Minar. It is a 6,000 sq. ft space with a seating capacity of around 100 in 13 pod-like enclosures and a standing capacity of 600-700.
Music rings: A view of one of the 13 sitting pods.
BlueFROG New Delhi will have the music aficionado blow a trumpet. The fine-dining has been segregated to an outdoor area called The Courtyard. Drinks and “one-hand food” will be served inside, says Mathai.
This is a blessing: Infected Mushroom goes down better on the palate without an extra helping of garlic butter. Or the clinking of champagne flutes at the next table, thank you.
Mathai says this resulted from feedback over the years. “In Mumbai, we tried to address this gnawing issue by spacing table seating (8.30pm) with the gigs (10pm), but it was still not right.”
The sound design—by Soundwizard from Auroville, with equipment from German audio giants d&b audiotechnik—is an upgrade from the Mumbai venue as well. The space is a design delight, with the sarai ruins beautifully restored by Serie Architects (London/Mumbai), who were also responsible for blueFROG Mumbai’s metamorphosis from a century-old mill compound to a plush concert venue.
BlueFROG New Delhi will run live music six nights a week (Mondays closed), with international artistes featuring regularly. There won’t be giant leaps in terms of the programming. But while genres have ranged from jazz, Blues, funk, soul and Afro/Latin to electronic club rock folk and more, the Delhi space will open its doors to Indian folk music and dance on the open-air terrace starting February.
Executive chef Mrigank Singh, who has moved here from Mumbai, describes his food as “Modern European with underlying Asian textures”. We tried the Corn and Tofu Cakes, Crumb Fried Mushrooms, Shotgun Chicken and Kerala Calamari appetizers while the kitchen was on a test-run and came away impressed. The cocktails are inventive too. Get Fresh (vodka with fresh watermelon juice and a dash of kaffir lime) is wickedly flirty.
The square footage of both the Mumbai and Delhi venues is pegged at 6,000 sq. ft, which seems misleading: The Delhi space appears decidedly smaller (not necessarily a bad thing) but organizers insist it is, in fact, larger.
BlueFROG New Delhi lacks the lavish, high-ceiling vibe of the Mumbai space, which almost emulates a modern opera (it’s hard not to draw comparisons with a second edition).
Mathai does quell the floating rumours of blueFROG New Delhi having a “separate VIP entrance”. “Absolutely not,” he says, while adding that there are VIP group tables— a special for flash-obsessed New Delhi—which can be booked for a minimum charge. Bottle service charges will differ depending on the gig but start at Rs20,000-30,000 for 10 people for a pod with dedicated butlers.
Entrance is free before 9pm. After that you pay Rs300. Cocktails are priced from Rs500-600. Appetizers, Rs300-550.
BlueFROG, The Kila, Seven Style Mile, Mehrauli, New Delhi.