Monkey Bar is finally here in The City of Joy. Bought to us by Olive Cafés South Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Olive Bar and Kitchen Pvt. Ltd, one of India’s premier stand-alone restaurant brands, helmed by award winning Chef Manu Chandra and hospitality operations expert Chetan Rampal, it was first launched in Bangalore in mid-2012, the gastropub currently has two outposts in Delhi, one in Bangalore and one in Mumbai and now opens in Kolkata with Avantika Saraogi coming on board, giving the brand a national footprint. Monkey Bar, the Indian avatar of the Gastropub, puts its own unique spin on the internationally popular concept. It has the essence of a pub backed by excellent food and service.
I am a huge fan of the brand and have visited the Monkey Bar in Delhi on a number of occasions. I was rather curious to see its Kolkata avatar and when I was invited for a Blogger’s tasting last week I absolutely adored it. They have retained the vibe of the other Mo Bars with the exposed brickwork and the touches of green, however they have successfully blended in the local Kolkata vibe as well which I really appreciate. A massive wall art depicts the hustle and bustle of the city, amalgamating the chaos, warmth and joy of Kolkata with its heritage architecture, brought to life by local Kolkata artists Sumanta Dey and Partha Roy in collaboration with Aradhana Dalmia. Light fixtures sourced from local markets add to the charm and the views are spectacular from the tall windows that give the space such a colonial feel. The outdoor area beckons with comfortable seating and creates a lovely space to chill out with friends and come the cooler months will become everybody’s favorite corner at Mo Bar.
Being the first Gastro Pub in the country and headed up by the fantastic Manu Chandra the menu is a smorgasbord of delights for both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians. From small plates with a contemporary taste to comfort food with a twist it’s all there. The Menu available at Mo Bar, Kolkata has retained many of their signature dishes but also added new ones. They have a whole range of Pizza’s here along with their fantastic burgers. But it’s the small plates with influences from pan India and world cuisine that are the highlights for me. Some of those we sampled were absolute gems. Mac & Cheese Croquettes with Broccoli & peas – golden fried comfort, Smoked Beetroot and Beans Galouti- melt in mouth veg galouti, Med Platter – Falafel, spinach, cheese filo parcels, hummus, and baba ganoush, with pita bread which was brilliant. Prawn Pil Pil – tossed in olive oil served with garlic rubbed toast, soak up the bread in the olive oil its delicious, rustic and soul satisfying. Tikki of Joy – Kolkata inspired Bhetki fish cutlets served with mint chutney. Tiger Beef – Slices of steak tossed with chilli paste, black beans, galangal, ginger, was one of the highlights the beef slices perfectly cooked and the flavors of galangal, blackbean and chilli make it an absolute delight. Their signature dish Butterfly Chicken is a crowd pleaser – sweet, spicy, crispy bits of chicken stuffed in their butterfly shaped shells. The other personal favorite is the MoBar Caramelized Ribs – slow cooked pan caramelized pork ribs with house made barbecue sauce which are absolutely a must order for me. The delicious Chicken Chapli Kebab – indian spiced marinated delicious kebabs that are juicy heavenly nuggets of delight .The Butter Chicken Khichdi which was one of the highlightsof the wet rainy evening for us – creamy mung daal khichdi with butter chicken folded in. Served with khichdi ke paanch yaar – ghee, papad, dahi, kachumbar & achaar was the dish that surprised us most, I mean khichdi is not a dish you think of ordering in a Gasropub ! And yes they do have a vegetarian version. The awesome Goan Chorizo Pav – chunks of goan sausages, sautéed with condiments stuffed inside toasted cocktail sized pav was superb. I sampled these delights over two meals incase your all wondering how much I possibly ate!
Dessert was outstanding, we sampled the Gondhoraj Lime Tart – delicate, delicious and if you like citrus flavors a must order. The Snicker Bar – milk chocolate ganache, dark chocolate micro cake, hazelnut praline cream and salted caramel gel …. Sinfully delicious and highly recommended. Those who read my blog know how much I love chocolate and this was delicious!
The whole Monkey Bar experience is accentuated by their superb cocktails. Some are the signature ones like Copper Monkey which is a personal favorite made with Whisky and Orange Juice as primary ingredients. Mangaa is the other Signature cocktail a delightful and refreshing mix of Vodka and Aam Panna. We also sampled Mad Men (Whisky,Coffee) , Pack-a-Punch (Rum,Brandy and Apple) and Toast to Calcutta (Gin,Gondhoraj Cordial) all of which were lovely and went down easy. As quirky and cool as their names.
However this blog would be incomplete if I did not write about what it is that makes me love this place so much beside the wonderful food and great cocktails served up. It’s their vibe, the mojo you feel that all the Monkey Bar’s seem to have …. it’s fun , it’s cool , it makes you feel like you’re a part of it and embraces you , sort of grabs your hand and says come let’s play and yet it has an underlying laid back elegance that blends beautifully with all the quaint quirks and makes it different from other similar places. It’s the MoBar Mojo! Pay the place a visit and experience it for yourself!
Wallet Factor: Meal for two without alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs. 1200++
Meal for two with alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs. 1800++
Open from: Tuesday to Fri 4 pm to 1 am; Sat & Sun 12:00 noon to 1:00 am.
Monday closed, Thursday dry Day.
DISCLAIMER : The Culinary Commentator was invited to Bloggers Meet’s hosted by the Management. However the views expressed are entirely my own.
Picture Credits : Suneha Saha