Bandra’s Carter Road promenade is a hot spot for restaurants and cafés, but MasalaBar is perhaps the most exciting opening there in recent times. Continuing with the legacy of Masala Library and Farzi Café, MasalaBar conjures up “post molecular” cocktails that are made with science lab-like techniques and are designed to be “experienced”.
The good stuff
MasalaBar scores right at the outset with its location, which gives a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. The ambience is suitably futuristic, with shiny reflective mirrors and cobalt blue walls. The bar is lined with all sorts of science-lab equipment. The place is lit solely by hundreds of (organic) candles, which give a warm feel, but as night descends it gets increasingly difficult to see what’s on your plate. The staff told us that the management is rethinking the lighting.
Our other drink was the aptly named Sunset @ Carter (Rs.700), a lovely sundowner to go with the view of the sea-face. The whisky cocktail had an orange-rosemary concoction mixed in and it was served in a glass set inside another glass piled with ice. Both the glasses stood on a contraption that released rosemary smoke. The drink was topped with bitter almond foam, which nicely complemented the slightly sweet cocktail. To go with the drinks, we tried the Truffled Fries (Rs.350), which were generously drizzled with truffle oil and Parmesan shavings, and absolutely addictive.
We turned our attention to the tapas menu, which is replete with Indian flavours, though some of the dishes have been dressed up in European garb. Case in point, the Litti Chokha “Profiterolls” (Rs.300), which give the Bihari staple a modern makeover. The litti (dough ball) has been replaced by airy choux pastry, stuffed with sattu (roasted chickpea flour) and spices, and topped with a small dollop of baingan bharta (roasted, mashed aubergine). The profiteroles are little flavour bombs, and we would definitely return for these.
From the non-vegetarian tapas menu, we picked two dishes. We enjoyed the Crisp Calamari Rings (Rs.395), which were crunchy on the outside with the chewy bite of the calamari inside. These were served with a delectable ponzu-chilli chutney. The 12 Hours Cooked Goan Pork Ribs (Rs.350) were excellent too. The ribs are slow- cooked, tossed with garam masala and finished off in a pan, leaving them tender. We loved the texture added by the puffed amaranth seeds that studded the ribs, as well as the accompanying warm braised purple cabbage with hints of cumin.
There are four desserts on the menu, from which we chose the Black Forest Dirt Pile (Rs.350). The plate arrived piled high with a deconstructed Black Forest cake over which the server ladled some thick chocolate sauce. There were pieces of chikki (peanut brittle) and revdi (sesame candy), a few blueberries and the ubiquitous microgreens mixed in with the cake crumble. You can’t really go wrong with a combination of cake, chocolate sauce and brittle, but the serving was huge, and it’s too much of a sugar rush; we had to abandon it midway.
Our main course of Puffed Rice & Pepper Chicken Khichdi (Rs.455) was way off the mark. It was so dark we couldn’t see the presentation of the dish; all we could discern were the pieces of papad standing upright in the khichdi and the streak of cream across the plate. The dish was essentially puffed rice risotto flavoured with some weird masala, studded with overcooked chicken, sliced olives and papad pieces, and garnished with pine nuts and microgreens.
Our meal—two cocktails, one appetizer, three tapas, one main and one dessert—cost Rs.4,569, all inclusive.
MasalaBar, Level 1, Gagangiri Apartments, above Café Coffee Day, Carter Road, Bandra—West
(8451900257). Open from 5pm- 1am (Mondays closed).