Carter Road is famous for many things – the promenade, beautiful sunsets, friendly faces, even a tattoo shop and food, so much food. You can find everything here from Shawarma joints, to FroYo shops, Subway, ice cream parlours, even a Chinese and Mexican food restaurant (in one), and Café Coffee Day at the corner (that has been around for almost half my life).
But tucked in a small corner above CCD, one can find the new age, uber chic restaurant ‘Masala Bar’. If you’re passing by on a midnight drive, you might even miss it, but definitely not ever since the rave reviews and reception the restaurant has received.
It is the hippest new joint in Bandra, almost impossible to get into, albeit completely worth the wait. With an all-black theme, dim lighting, fancy cocktails, fancier Indian food, and riding on the brand name of the Kalras, this restaurant offers the perfect mixture of food, drinks and ambience.
As you enter, you will walk past red walls, black stairs with melting candles on both sides of the staircase giving it a very gothic look, reminding me of Poe’s ‘The Raven’.
We had not booked a table (BAD IDEA on a weekend, but doable on a weekday), but since we were early the staff gave us a table of our choice (politely reminding us that we would have to move to the bar in case those who had booked it showed up on time). The restaurant is all black and boy does that add to its charm. The lighting is only through lamps on every table and the candles I mentioned earlier, creating a very intimate setting. (That can be a bit of issue while reading the menu though).
Bollywood Bhang (Rs. 700) and Filter-Kafi Uska (Rs. 700)
If you’ve been to Masala Library, you know that presentation is everything. The same concept applies here. Bollywood Bhang, was served in a wooden tray with vodka, thandaai and a flask with vodka and basil leaves. True to theatrical flair, the server used a blowtorch at the bottom of the flask to create smoke which we were asked to inhale. The basil flavour of the smoke set the tone for the bhang, which was phenomenal. I am not too big a fan of creamy cocktails, but this one is definitely worth trying, especially with its skull-shaped glass.
Filter-Kaif Uska – largely coffee based, the drink (with copious amounts of vodka), had a hint of cinnamon as well. It had a very strong flavour and frankly I could not finish it because it hit me pretty fast (!). I’d say you could give it a miss and consider their whiskey cocktails.
Mushroom Soufflé Nuggets (Rs. 350), Pan-tossed shrooms (Rs. 350), and Litti Chokha Profiteroles (Rs. 300).
The nuggets were to die for! The truffle flavour was impeccable and despite the fried covering, the calories were worth it. A must try for any truffle lover.
From left to right: Mushroom Soufflé Nuggets (2), Pan-tossed shrooms, Litti Chokha Profiterolls
Since I love mushrooms so much (clearly), we ordered the Pan-tossed shrooms, which was like a mushroom bruschetta, the twist being good old khaki biscuit used as a base. The flavours worked perfectly together especially with the mint green chutney that accompanied. The Litti Chokha Profiterolls was a Bihari dish, so we thought we would experiment. It did not go down well with us 😦 On the outside it was a soft bread roll, filled with vegetable stuffing. While it looked gorgeous, I didn’t find the taste all that appealing so you could give this a miss. This could be replaced by the Carbon Pav Bhaji, a dish that I will try out the next time.
Truffle Shitake Steak Burger (Rs. 310) and Puffed grains and Pesto Khichdi (Rs. 395).
The Burger was accompanied by potato crisps on a skewer, which were a delish blend of crispy and soft. The burger patty was amazing, sadly the truffle flavour was not very evident. There were too many caramelized onions on top of the patty affecting the taste. The pesto Khichdi on the other hand was the highlight of the night. Accompanied by olives, papad, and ‘mamra’ the flavours were brilliant. If mom could make khichdi at home like this, I’d gladly fall sick everyday!
We ended our dinner with another drink, the Malabar Point (Rs. 700). Our server told us that this was inspired by Malabar Hill, an iconic location in Mumbai. The drink was themed as a blend of all the elements – sea, land and the sun. It was fruity, with apple and cinnamon topped with thyme foam. I was a little worried about the foam but the flavour was minimal. Again, the presentation of the drink was superb, with flasks and what not taking me back to Chemistry class! Definitely one to try for a vodka lover.
Zoravar Kalra and his levels of creativity never cease to amaze me and once again with Masala Bar he has most certainly set the bar extremely high !
Address: Carter Road
Price: Meal for two Rs. 5,000
Reservation: Highly recommended
Overall Rating: 5/5