In my experience, very rarely do restaurants in this neck of the woods aspire to the heights of perfection that Rituu Memani has achieved with her heady tribute to Prohibition-era speakeasies. Cocktails were the drink of choice in speakeasies, required to mask the taste of the inferior liquor common in these establishments. But, rest assured, only top-notch spirits are poured here, and in such inventive and refreshing combinations that you’ll find yourself thirsting for more.
Located in the very central Cross Point Mall, the bar expects to tap into Gurugram’s vibrant afterwork scene. True to spirit, it’s set behind a discreet door with minimal signage. Of course, it’s all perfectly legal. It’s quirky (funny posters, and a wall of changing letters which, when I visited, admonished, “If these walls could talk”) and classy (velvet upholstery, nice glasses, spiffy staff).
We munched toasted fox nuts while waiting for our drinks. The largely liquid lunch kicked off with the Rising Sun, an uplifting cuppa of bourbon, yuzu and green tea which came in a slender teapot and, for my companion, a Popcorntini, a vodka-based concoction which had a paper cone of popcorn dangling from the glass. We followed this up with a Milano Spritzer and the unusual Black Ink (gin, dry vermouth, basil flavour and black sesame oil).
Cocktails can be tricky. How often have we been disappointed and retreated behind a straight drink. I’m, therefore, glad to report that, quirky presentation apart, these were jaw-droppingly good drinksas well. I do, however, draw the line at serving a drink to a grown man in a breakfast bowl, which is exactly what Cereal Killer (cornflakes, milk, vanilla and bourbon) turned out to be.
After these superlative cocktails, I wondered if the food would be able to match up. We were high, and so were our expectations. The sampling began with some promising hickory kathal tacos and petite gouda naans. The burnt onion prawns convinced me that, till that point, I had been eating these delicious crustaceans all wrong. Rum & coke wings and truffloni flatbread (starring pepperoni and truffle oil) were up next. We needn’t have fretted. The food was no afterthought. For the cautious, there are a lot of popular, comfort options on the menu, including competent kebab platters. Health food is by no means prohibited, and we piously tucked into two salads: goat’s cheese and orange, and a revelatory Burmese tomato salad with its contrasting textures.
This is also a bar where you can have a conversation; the canned music is at a sane decibel. There are live performances on Friday and Saturday, strictly jazz and retro. Lock & Key would be right at home in any world city. For a change, we’re the lucky ones who’ll unlock its secrets.
Shop No 105, 106 & 107, First Floor, DLF Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase IV, Gurugram, +91-8882018888