Monkey Bar finally opens its doors to the city of joy ! If we consider the scenario of Kolkata around two years back, then the word ‘gastropub‘ was just a term that we used to associate with the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. But over a short passage of time, new gastropubs are being launched in the city, making it a more happening place to live in. Monkey Bar is the latest and perhaps the best introduction to the scenario of slowly evolving gastropubs in Kolkata. The excitement for its launch was doubled when I was invited to be a part of a bloggers meet, for the pre-inauguration of Monkey Bar, powered by Communications 2.0
Popularly referred to as India’s first gastropub, Monkey Bar had its inception in Bangalore. This was followed by outlets in Delhi and Mumbai and finally one in Kolkata, which we all had been eagerly waiting for. It is located on the 9th floor of Fort Knox, Camac Street. The location is actually amazing, the sole reason being the wonderful view of the city through through the large glass windows, specially the spectacular view of Victoria Memorial ! The ambience otherwise is quirky and has a warm vibe. The space is somewhat divided into three sections – an atrium with a high ceiling and large glass windows, a large bar area and an open smoking zone. The culture and heritage of Kolkata is reflected by the painting on the top of a wall depicting Goopy Gyne and Bagha Byne on a hand pulled rickshaw, Victoria Memorial, tram, Howrah Bridge, etc.
The bloggers meet was interactive and fun-filled with a huge gathering of renowned bloggers from all over Kolkata. The owner and the staff were very hospitable, and every minute detail was taken care of ! So now it’s time to talk of the food. We were initially served the cocktails –
1. Mangaa – This is one of their signature cocktails. Raw mango had always been my personal favourite when it comes to drinks, and thus this cocktail turned out to be my favourite among the drinks. This was a blend of vodka, am panna, sweet lime, cumin and salt. The tanginess and spice were in proportions in this drink. It was perfectly chilled out and refreshing.
2. Copper Monkey – This was a mix of 100 pipers deluxe, orange juice, passion fruit, mint and bitters. It has been named as Copper Monkey since the cocktail was served in a copper tumbler and this happened to be another signature mocktail of Monkey Bar.
3. Mad Men – This had a strong flavour of coffee along with whisky, orange and rosemary. It looked somewhat like an iced tea but the taste was totally different. That’s where lies the surprise of this.
4. Pack–a punch – This was a blend of rum and brandy, with apple, thyme and cinnamon.
5. Toast to Calcutta – This was the cocktail which was served to my table initially, when the ingredient guessing competition was done. The cocktail was prepared to please us, as the main ingredient was gondhoraj lemon, which we bongs love a lot. Gondhoraj lemon creates its profound presence in every dish, and that was what happened with this. With gin and a flavour of basil, this was strong and refreshing!
6. Hipster Smash – This had vodka with cucumber, vodka and elderflower spritz, watermelon and mint.
The entrées were next in line :
1. Kerala red rice salad – This was a mix of carefully and wisely chosen ingredients like red rice, baby spinach, raw mango, coconut, peanuts and upmensinkai. The whole dish was full of different flavours and each ingredient had its own role. The rice was the base of the dish. Raw mango provided the tangy taste. Coconut and peanuts imparted sweetness and crunch. Upmensinkai, which is a salted chilli from Karnataka, did spice up the entire dish. This was indeed a balanced dish and I loved munching it !
2. Mac and cheese croquettes – This had broccoli and cheese, golden fried with chilli mayo and salsa. The surface coating was crispy. Overall, this was nice.
3. Med Platter – One plate with a lot of ingredients! This included falafel, spinach, cheese filo parcels, hummus, smoked baba ganoush, roasted peppers, olives, with pita bread and Lebaneh. The falafel was crispy and well done. The spinach and cheese filo parcels were well done and tasted amazing.
4. Smoked beetroot and beans galawati – This was nice, the beans galawati being well cooked. However, it didn’t melt in my mouth, like the way it was supposed to be.
5. Prawn pil pil – If you are a prawn lover, then this is definitely going to leave an impression on you. Juicy and succulent prawns were tossed in olive oil with chilli, garlic and parsley. The prawns tasted amazing and it was difficult to stop myself from having the whole of it !
6. Tikki of joy – Bhetki paturi is something that almost every bong would love. So this is justly named as tikki of joy! But how can one serve a bhetki paturi in a bar? So this dish comes with a twist. The fish is marinated with kasundi, fennel seed and coriander, and then crumb fried. It is finally served with a mint sauce. The taste was quite nice however I felt the outer coating to be a little thick, which was somewhat dampening the flavour of the entire dish.
7. BBQ caramelized ribs – This is something that has the capacity to make me or any other pork lover travel to monkey bar any day just for this ! Perhaps this was the best pork ribs infact the best pork preparation I had till date. The meat was so soft that it melted in my mouth. The sweet and tangy sauce was an additional bonus. This was so irresistible that I was unable to stop myself. Definitely, this was my favourite in the whole menu.
8. Tiger beef – Thin slices of steak were tossed with chilli paste, black beans, galangal, ginger, bean sprouts, lemon, bok choy and peppers. The beef was well cooked and the gravy was quite spicy.
9. Butterfly chicken – This is their signature dish where the food is place in a fried wanton, shaped like butterfly. I liked the concept. The butterfly shells were stuffed with chicken pieces tossed with sesame, chilli,. honey and peppers. This was quite nice. The chicken was delicious with proper seasoning !
10. Lal maas phulka tacos – This was a fusion of American and Indian, or better to say with Rajasthan cuisine. The tacos were stuffed with red chilli and spice braised lamb, with chilli pickle, kersangri, onion and white radish slaw, garlic and coriander chutney. I liked the seasoning that was done with the lal maas. Also , the mutton was delicately cooked.
We ended our sumptuous meal with the desserts
1. Gondhoraj lemon tart – One can assume this to be a cheesecake as it wasn’t presented like a tart but like a cheesecake. Lemon curd, torched meringue, lemon and mint gel, pistachio cake and a cookie bar were used for the entire thing. I loved the texture of the dish. The sourness of the cake was well complemented by the sweetness of the cookie bar.
2. The Snicker Bar – This was the last dish of the afternoon and turned out to be amazing ! The crispy layer of snickers was used as the base of the dish, the other ingredients being milk chocolate ganache, dark chocolate microcake, hazelnut praline cream and salted caramel gel. This is definitely heaven for a chocolate lover ! The texture was amazing as was its taste. The rich flavour of chocolate and hazelnut was something to die for ! This won all our hearts !
Overall, Monkey Bar did impress me with their signature dishes. My recommendations are the pork ribs, prawn pil pil and the Snicker bar, three of which can’t be missed at any cost. I would like to thank Gaurav, Priyam and Communications 2.0 for bringing so many bloggers under one roof and making this event a successful one.