Imagine being in a park (read: well-maintained lawns) with the winter wind slightly touching your face and warm food (read: lip-smacking goodies) on your plate. Oh, and there are good cocktails too. Sounds like an ideal meal, right?
Well, the idea of this meal comes alive at Monkey Bar, Vasant Kunj. Situated exactly in the middle of a lawn, it took two minutes for my companion and I to stand, stare and admire the erected conical structure that looks nothing short of an art installation.
Revamping their entire menu across all outlets in the country to keep up with the times, Monkey Bar is now Monkey Bar Evolution. Being one of the first gastropubs in India, they’ve always been playful with their flavours whilst sticking to the original creation, the new menu is all about taking it a notch higher.
Take the Indian Odyssey Platter. Perfect for a large group and inspired by a regular Mediterranean platter, it comes accompanied by a Bengali-style baingan bhort and kaddu (pumpkin) hummus. Other additions are the salted labneh (a form of cheese made out of hung curd) and pickled turnip and carrots accompanied by Kalimpong cheese. Along with it, a selection of Mangalorean kori roti, fryums and Gujrati fafda and bonda vada make up the whole offering. A traditional twist to a platter we all hold so dear.
Kulchas are famed across the northern part of the country. A blend of Punjab and Dilli, we urge you to not miss this at Monkey Bar. We tried a classic onion and cheese and a Malabari mutton--they look ordinary but melts in your mouth. Its pillowey softness and copious fillings go very well with a spicy and traditional mint chutney.
Kerala's famed meen Pollichatu (fish masala) is delectable here. Slow cooked in a banana leaf to perfection, the fish served with coriander potato reminds you of your Kerala holiday. And the same goes for the Naga style pork belly. Served with vegetables, soy and hoisin sauces, and of course the Naga chilli, a hybrid variety grown in the Northeast, the aromas from the bowl makes you salivate long before the first bite. And the first bite definitely does not disappoint.
When the conversation moves towards pav bhaji from Mumbai's beach or roadside stalls, Monkey Bar's cheesy pao bhaji does a pretty good job of bringing Maharashtra's favourite snack to the Capital. Plus, the more cheese the better, we say!
Baos can be found everywhere these days. But we must say that the soft ghee roast baos are worth a try here. We tried the ones stuffed with chicken and prawn and let's just say, we would want to go back just for some more.
Other mentions include the paneer and tarkari shashlik, the samosa chaat, nacho nacho, and the watermelon-feta salad, each wholesome and flavourful, spices working well for the Indian palate.
In the drinks section, what we liked was that the cocktails were fresh, away from the overtly sweet ones found in eateries and bars. So, kudos to that.
At a time when every restaurant is going the same route, it's heartening to see that Monkey Bar promises flavours from across the country and each dish is well thought out with well-balanced elements. The menu is expanded but we must say that despite the list, we enjoyed each and every item we tasted. Fusion or twist, whatever you may call it, Monkey Bar's new menu is an attempt to retain the original but with a unique take.
Where: Monkey Bar, Vasant Kunj
Meal for two: Rs 2000++ with alcohol (excluding taxes); Rs 1400++ without alcohol (excluding taxes)
Contact: 011 41095155