Braving the heavy rains and waterlogged Camac Street on Monday, I entered the newest gastropub in the city. The monkey they love in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi has swung its way to the 9th Floor of Fort Knox building on Camac Street. Yes, the much awaited Monkey Bar is finally open in Kolkata!
I was invited for a preview of Monkey Bar on Monday before the official opening on the 6th and that was the day when Kolkata received the heaviest rainfall of the season. Uber and Ola went crazy with their surge pricing and it was tough to figure out if we were in Venice or Kolkata. That did not deter us foodies from indulging in some monkey business though. Since we were brave enough to venture outside, we were promised a great time at MoBar (as its popularly called) and boy did they live up to that promise!
This was my first visit to any Monkey Bar outlet so I could not compare the decor and ambience to the ones they have in the other cities. What I liked however was the addition of the local touch. Spread across 2,800 sq ft, the interiors of MoBar make references to colonial Kolkata which brings warmth and vibrancy to the contemporary design. There is an atrium style outdoor seating space and indoors, the decor is done up Kolkata-style with warm red brick walls, high, old-fashioned windows and a large mural painted by local artists where you spot Goopi and Bagha Byne sitting on a rickshaw. The best part about MoBar is the view that it offers. You look out to a stunning panoramic view of Kolkata landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral, the Victoria Memorial, and the Vidyasagar Setu.
MoBar has added the local touch not just to the decor but also to the food and drinks. There are some new cocktails created specially for the City of Joy like Toast To Calcutta (gin, basil and house Gondhoraj lime cordial) and Pack-A-Punch (rum, brandy, apple, cinnamon and thyme shrub. You also get old MoBar favorites like Maanga (vodka, aam panna, cumin, sweet lime and salt), Copper Monkey (whiskey, orange juice, bitters, passion fruit and mint) and Tipsy Sherbet (rose syrup, lime, tequila and egg white). In case you are wondering if I tried all these cocktails, the answer is yes :). And I loved all of them but I’ll have to be slightly partial towards Pack-A-Punch.
In the food menu, newbies include Kerala Red Rice Salad, a mix of red rice, raw mango, baby spinach, coconut, peanuts and salted chilli from down south. This tangy concoction will go very well with the desi cocktails. We were served an incredible amount of food that day but what really stood out for me was the Baked Brie (Brie with Caramelised onions & Marmalade, stuffed in Puff pastry & baked) and Butter Chicken Khichdi (creamy mung daal khichdi with butter chicken folded in. Served with ghee, papad, dahi, salad & achaar). The Baked Brie was heaven on a plate and the Khichdi, the perfect comfort food! Other favorites were Tiger Beef (slices of steak tossed with chilli paste, black beans, galangal, ginger, bean sprouts, lemon, bok choy and peppers), Chicken Chapli (soft and juicy chicken kababs served with egg paratha, mint and chutney), Tikki of Joy (Kolkata inspired Bhetki chops with kasundi, fennel seed & coriander, served with mint chutney) and the Med Platter (falafel, spinach, cheese filo parcels, hummus, smoked baba ganoush, roasted peppers, olives, with pita bread & labneh).
No meal is complete without dessert and MoBar has some decadent ones on the menu. For chocoholics, there is the Snicker Bar, a sinful indulgence of milk chocolate ganache, dark chocolate micro-cake, hazelnut praline cream and salted caramel gel. If tangy tarts are more of your thing, try the Gondhoraj Lime Tart with lemon curd, torched meringue, lemon & mint gel, pistachio cake & cookie crust.
In a nutshell, Monkey Bar, Kolkata is awesome! The food is delicious, the drinks are innovative, the prices are not over the top and the place gives off a warm, casual vibe which I really liked. Chef Manu Chandra, now please get Fatty Bao to Kolkata too 😀
Pics courtesy Monkey Bar Kolkata