I simply loved watching the Dexter’s Laboratory cartoon during my childhood days! The thought of running a secret laboratory by myself simply marvelled me. Much to my dismay, my school and college chemistry labs weren’t even half as fun as the one I remember watching on TV. And after all these years, I found myself wonderstruck by all the apparatus arrangements on the bar counter as we took a tour of this new venture by the culinary bigwigs – the Kalras.
Located on Carter road in Bandra, this is one of those rare restaurants that carry off minimal lighting in style! As a dark flight of stairs leads you to the restaurant upstairs with only a few candles to lighten them up post sunset, get set to enter into a magical world! The ambiance is simply breath taking! This place opens at 5pm, and as the evening progresses towards sunset, different hues and shades of sunlight pierce through the hexagonal glass windows giving you a very scenic view!Post sunset, the place is completely lit up by a variety of candles on table tops, corner shelves and hanging from the ceiling. B-e-a-utiful indeed!
THE BAR & THE COCKTAILS: 5/5
The long bar counter resembles a Mini laboratory with equipments like Distillation unit, boiling unit, vacuum unit used for infusing a variety of flavours in the cocktails without having to mix the ingredients together, the glass cooler, a plethora of conical flasks, round bottom flasks, ground glass joints, volumetric flasks, retorts and tubes all around! The cocktail menu seems like a chemistry manual with equations and schematic diagrams all around.
Each and every cocktail made here has a very unique name and has a story or a theme behind it’s existence in the menu. Interesting indeed! Also I must say, this place offers potentially strong and robust flavours in terms of cocktails and food, both ensuring our taste buds unconventional but mind-bogglingly brilliant flavours!
Sunset @ Carter
The cocktail was presented to us in a conical glass placed on a bed of ice in a round container resting on top of a unit letting out fumes of rosemary ensuring us all an olfactory pleasure right before sipping into the cocktail. The cocktail comprised of a concoction of chocolate Whisky infused with Rosemary and orange flavour which was topped with a thick Almond foam made by infusing it with nitrogen in an emulsifier. WOW!
An Evening at Chowpaty
A Vodka based cocktail comprising of Vodka, Curry coconut mix (I.e. A mixture of Coconut water and curry leaves infused using an equipment called the Hot Infusion Siphon) and topped with Coconut fizz. This one was served inside a cage which they called ‘ the cafe of happiness’ along with some chana zor garam clipped onto a side of the cage. Superb!
The cocktail apparatus comprised of a Thandai like mixture made inthe house served in a glass bottle, Vodka infused with basil in a small corked round bottom flask, a bigger one containing Vodka basil dragon smoke which could be inhaled while sipping onto this concoction. The homemade mixture and the basil infused vodka were mixed together and served in a mug shaped like a human skull representing the fact that bhaang messes with the human brain. Thoughtful indeed and tasted superb too!
Malabar hill is one such place in Mumbai where you see the unison of earth/ground, hill, sea and clouds. This cocktail is so named based on the concept that the different ingredients that go into the making of this one represent those different elements of nature. The apple chamomile reduction represents the earth, the vodka represents the sea, apple represents the hill and the thyme foam represents the clouds. This one is again served in a very unique glass that’s shaped as an upside down cliff and the concoction contains vodka and Apple chamomile reduction and is topped with Thyme foam along with a container releasing fumes of apple and chamomile extract for olfactory pleasure! Amaaazinngg!
The Great Hornby’s Cloud
As the name suggests, this cocktail pays tribute to William Hornby. Comprising of a concoction of sweet Whisky and Homemade spices including cinnamon, star anise, clove and dehydrated vanilla, this one is placed in an enclosed chamber containing the Hornby’s favourite spice cloud which infuses a variably spicy and robust flavour into the liquor. A cinnamon stick is served alongside to be used as a stirrer. Brilliant, yet again!
This cocktail highlights a South Indian’s love for a hot and refreshing filter coffee. The cocktail apparatus arrived onto the table in a miniature garden-like set up simply implying that wherever there’s coffee, there’s heaven on earth! This concoction consisted of Coffee and bitters along with vodka infused with spices like cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom and dehydrated apple skin. A star anise and a small peel of an orange skin were set ablaze using a blow torch and dipped into the cocktail right before we took a sip! Tasted so rejuvenating!
This Gin based cocktail was such a beautiful reminder of how matinee shows have always been an integral part of a mumbaikar’s life! This one was made of a mixture of gin, grape fruit, orange skin oil and a homemade sattu fizz (sattu made of roasted chickpeas powder, salt and turmeric). Brilliant stuff!
The words ‘Bem Vinda’ mean ‘Welcome’ in Portuguese. This one consisted of a mixture of clear whisky, apple, fig and a mumbai masala reduction and was served with some caramelized fig soaked in whisky. Superb again!
Their food menu comprises of finger food or starters to go with their cocktails. And following are the ones we tasted –
Channa Tempura Chaat
Crispy tempura fried chick peas and spinach were tossed in a unique togarashi spice mix and served along crunchy pine nuts and roasted garlic pods. A brilliant finger food to have with your cocktails.
Chicken 65 Lolipop
Spicy chicken lollipops were fried, tossed in butter-garlic-pepper glaze and served along with roasted bell peppers coulee. Delicious and spicy!
Scallops pan seared in ghee were served on a bed of absolutely creamy and smooth fennel flavoured beet and potato mash along with dehydrated lentil grits and purple potato chips. Yummmm!
Since, I’m allergic to mushrooms, I avoided eating this one as this contained truffle oil, but my pals who tasted this were all going ga-ga about it. Crispy Fries made in the house topped with finely grated Parmesan Cheese, drizzled with Truffle Oil and garnished with shavings of Parmesan cheese on top!
Baby Cashew Idlis Kafir Lime Gunpowder
Steamed mini idlis were tossed in butter, ginger, green chillies and a variation of the south Indian gunpowder or ‘Molgapodi’ containing Kaffir lime and served along fried cashew nuts. The flavour of the kafir lime being too strong and overpowering, this dish didn’t quite please me taste wise.
Prawn Dynamite Slider
Wonderful dish, this one! Squid ink coloured burger buns were filled with delicious and spicy tempura fried prawns along with oodles of sriracha mayo. Loved it!
BBQ Pulled Kathal Burger
Barbequed jack fruit or Kathal were hand pulled and tossed in indian masalas and then stuffed into burger buns along with kale leaves, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. This one was such a pleasant surprise! I would have easily mistaken the stuffing in this one for a spicy pav bhaji or kheema, had I not known the name of the dish.
Pan Tossed Shrooms
Yet another dish that I couldn’t try due to my mushroom allergy. This one was a platter of flaky bruschettas topped with a mixture of assorted mushrooms cooked in Indian spices.
Lollipops filled with milk Rabdi and Baileys liquor and coated with dark chocolate. Amazing! These were served to us in a tree like apparatus with lollipops placed on it’s branches. WOW! They simply melted in the mouth and tasted so yummilicious! Take a bow MasalaBar!
The classic phirni was cooked served with a twist in the form of a risotto made with arborio rice, garnished with pistachios, pistachio cream, parmesan shavings, blueberry and mango coulee and thyme seeds. Well done! Tasted amazing but missed out on the consistency of a risotto.
The service is very kind, warm, welcoming and attentive. The attendants have thorough knowledge of all the dishes and cocktails they serve and are extremely patient and politely answer all your queries. They are all ears to your suggestions and feedback as well.
Cocktails – 5/5
Food quality – 3.5/5
Food quantity – 3.5/5
Ambiance – 4/5
Service – 4.5/5
VFM – NA (This meal was courtesy an invitation by the restaurant for tasting their menu).