In Nordic mythology, “Valhalla” is a hall where warriors or “the chosen dead” go after their deaths. Some consider it the paradise of food and wine.
Small helpings: The complimentary petits fours.
Worlds, centuries and ethers apart from the glorious dead warriors are the lawyers, bankers and brokers of Nariman Point, Mumbai, for whom Valhalla is a new business lounge for meetings, conferences or lunch with colleagues. The business lounge, as a concept, is yet to catch up. So far, the Chambers at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Belvedere at the Oberoi were the two places favoured by top executives in south Mumbai.
A fortnight ago, Valhalla opened where Starters and More, a restaurant and bar in Churchgate, once stood. The spacious lounge, with a bar lining one side, has the informal air of a pub, but with large alcove tables and cushioned wooden chairs. Come evening, it is a hot new lounge and tapas bar. We visited during the day and after sundown.
The good stuff
The business lounge has Wi-Fi connections for laptops, services such as courier, fax and television screens on demand, and a food menu that suits the health conscious executive.
The Spanish-influenced food, with some Indian elements, is light on the stomach and perfect for a luncheon meeting. Yet, there are some gourmet dishes suitable for impressing the difficult client. Our picks: the warm asparagus salad with sun-blushed tomatoes and chevre; and the lemon grass-flavoured rawas with steamed noodles and nori. They have soups, sandwiches and paella; the petits fours (small pieces of cake) are complimentary with tea and coffee. The two conference rooms, built away from the lounge for privacy, are equipped with the best office technology.
On a Friday evening, we caught a performance by percussionist Jonqui, who plays at the hottest nightclubs in Mumbai. He plays percussion instruments such as the drums, tabla and dhol and jams along with the DJ’s mixes. That night, the music was energetic, the lights were on soft glow, and the wood-and-jewelled decor looked plush.
We tried the Watermelon Caipiroska, which was great, starting out strong and mellowing as the ice melted, but it could have done with more watermelon. The sangria, a fruity tasting mix, was even better. But the real after-dark star of Valhalla were the tapas. Don’t miss the Albondigas—beef mince dumplings with spices and melted manchego cheese. The meatballs were moist and dissolved in the mouth. The Jamon Serrano —mountain cured Spanish ham—and Cajun prawns were also delicious, with generous quantities.
While the space itself is large, there isn’t enough distance between tables for meetings to progress in complete privacy. One wouldn’t book a conference room for a meeting of four or five. Some design elements seem out of place—an oversized carved wooden throne with velvet upholstery in the middle of the lounge, in keeping with the Valhalla theme.
In the evening, sitting at the bar is probably more comfortable than being in the seating area. The large tables and comfy chairs may be perfect for a business meeting, but when you want to chill with friends with drinks, it’s constricting. The chairs are bulky and manoeuvring them to listen to conversation at the other end can be difficult.
The soups and salads are priced between Rs125 and Rs355; sandwiches between Rs300 and Rs425; and main courses range between Rs395 and Rs995.
Cocktails are Rs450, a beer is between Rs200 and Rs300. Tapas range from Rs300 to Rs625.
For reservations, call 9619195233.