“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Sir Winston Churchill
While so many new restaurants and eateries with similar concept and serving similar food are sprouting up in Mumbai, the fact that SamBar is one of the few restaurants that have something novel to offer in terms of food, really intrigued me. There’s no doubt that the concept of establishing Mumbai’s first South India themed bar serving finger food inspired by the South Indian culinary culture along with booze (also served with a Southie twist) is one of a kind and unattempted till date, but never does just the strategy or the concept alone ensure the success of a restaurant. Perfect execution of the concept as well as consistent performance are also equally necessary so as to make it a hit!
The ambience and decor is young and full of colour owing to the colourful seating arrangements in the form of couches, chairs, tiny stools and tall bar stools, paper windmills and colourful face masks on every table and hand-paintings on the walls which can be a little difficult to appreciate in their dimly lit interiors though. The music is upbeat and live musical performances on certain evenings further brings this place to life! Although, I would like to suggest that they either brighten up the lighting in their indoor dining section or change the colour combination and/or increase the font size of their F & B menu so that it enables people to read the menu without straining their eyes.
While the vodka, white rum and whisky based Talli Imli was a well balanced sweet and sour concoction; the vodka and coffee liquor based Capi Madras was excessively flavoured with cardamom; the vodka, white rum, gin and tequila based Chill Madi had a very mellow and watered down flavour of Kokam; and the LIIT Rajani with a jagermeister shot glass inside was too bitter to taste. Three misses out of the four cocktails that I sampled was a disappointing start indeed!
These boneless chunks of deep fried chicken with a thin batter fried crust revealed a spicy and heated taste along with a hint of coconut-y flavour, courtesy the flavourful blend of varied South Indian spices. The mayonnaise based dip served as an accompaniment went very well with it.
Their version of the very common Andhra styled preparation of dry chilli chicken that this was, it would have been a better treat had the overpowering flavour of coconut not effectively masked the mildly spicy flavor of the dish.
Southern Fried Chicken
We wouldn’t have cared much about these chicken lollypops with a crispy batter fried exterior had it not been for the pool of rich, thick and tangy tamarind based sauce also letting out a hint of heated taste with a mellow pungent and delicate nutty flavour of garlic, beneath.
The fact that they used a Basa fish having no inherent flavour instead of Karimeen (Pearl Spot fish) or Kingfish that’s traditionally used in this preparation, was a huge let down! While the thick masala paste covering the fish had a wonderfully spicy and tangy flavour with hints of coconut, the super flaky texture and tastelessness of Basa failed to capture the essence of this delicacy from Kerala.
“The result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution.” – Chuck Martin
The wait-staff was interestingly dressed in lungis folded till their knees paired with t-shirts and a washcloth/hand-towel hanging from one of the shoulders to go with the theme of the restaurant. The wait-staff, as welcoming as they were, seemed to be a bunch of confused souls loitering around aimlessly and the service was extremely sluggish even when the restaurant wasn’t occupied at it’s full capacity! Our dining experience was worst hit when our food started arriving on the table after more than an hour (apparently some miscommunication/no communication at all – between the owner who intended to send us his top picks from the menu by himself and the kitchen-staff that upon our enquiry half an hour later claimed to have received absolutely no order for food from our table); as a result I had to leave right after tasting just four appetizers while the rest of us staying nearby, managed to stay back and leave much later.
F & B quality – 2.5/5
Food quantity – 3.5/5
Ambience – 3.5/5
Service – 2/5