What was to be Delhi's first Gastro pub had me buzzing for weeks. I waited patiently to let the opening fluff and failures to balance out. Perhaps I waited too long. Or perhaps it was never destined to please me. The third possibility is that they accidentally labelled it gastro pub food, when all along they simply meant to call it pub food! Voila I believe that is my answer. ! What exactly is gastro pub food? Well it is the gourmetfication of pub food - pub food in a tux. So it still very much needs to be "fine food". And simply serving a sort fusion pub food does not make it a gastro-pub. Lets face it, the food is not bad but it is a far cry from "fine".
However, the place is ram jammed with mainly students. They have taken over what used to, years back, be Ministry of Sound. The shell is essentially a glass pyramid, that not only floods the restaurant with light through the day but lends a cool industrial vibe to the place. Just keep in mind it is rather loud in there but well within their rights - it is a pub after all!
I cannot comment on the service much because this review was on invite. Though the staff were very pleasant and attentive. Our server Rajesh was exceptionally good.
One sip and I understood why there were so many students in there - the drinks were loaded! Cocktails in my opinion are the most abused item on the menu. In a city where food is seldom consistent - imagine the state of affairs at the bar. But unlike food, not as much of a fuss is created with a bad drink - so they easily fall under this cloak of accepted mediocrity. Sad, nothing beats a well made-cocktail. Rarely, and I emphasise rarely, in this city will the same drink, several rounds later, taste exactly the same, and this isn't the effect of the alcohol talking. And what is up with the cloyingly sweet cocktails in this city? Isn't the aim to have us drink more of them, rather than be sugar-scarred after the first? I am ranting and going a bit off tangent - my rant above isn't all related to Monkey Bar but a general summation of drinks in the city. So the cocktails weren't all that bad here - yes most were too sweet, and too strong - yes there is such a thing, you'll get it once you cross 25. But they are at least trying to do something beyond mojitos, which I appreciate. We tried the Copper Monkey - a blend of whiskey, orange, passion fruit, mint & bitters - not bad but a bit off balance (too sweet, too strong) - whisky orange and bitters is always a winning combination. And the Mangaa - Vodka, aam panna, sweet lime & jeera salt - Quite enjoyable, though again a little sweet. A few other interesting cocktails on the menu to check out too.
Excuse my pictures - I might have said they don't do justice to the food but in this case it really didn't look much better than this.
- Tikki of Joy - Bekti Fish Cutlets. Not quite my idea of joy to be quite honest. After biting in to it, the first thing that came to my mind, was how defrosted the fish tasted. The only thing nice about this was the kasundi mustard sauce on top.
- Butterfly Chicken - One thing worse than food that tastes like very little is food that tastes like too much. What were to be crispy bits of peppery, honey chicken in this pastry shell - turned out to be an over tangy, over seasoned, not-quite crispy, chicken; with no clear flavour that only a carelessly heavy-hand could have achieved. I just felt bored eating it.
- Chubby Mushrooms - A promise of mushrooms stuffed with feta, soft onions and herbs- turned out to be more of a mushroom do pyaaza - couldn't taste the feta - just some generic cheese with lots of peppers. Not a restaurant worthy dish, and so terribly mundane.
I would have liked to try the Sorpotel Jam Pot but they didn't have it .
- Pork Belly Sliders - I was quite excited for these but silly me. Firstly, its great to keep this simple and not clutter it too much but that is if you get that pork belly bloody right. The pork belly was a tad dry, and flat in flavour. The condiments didn't stand out at all. Actually the dish itself didn't stand out. It lacked vibrancy. The best way for me to describe it would be "Meh"...
- Tomato Butter Garlic Prawns - This was one of the better starters on our table. A bit salty for my liking but at this point I was just relieved to have something wake up my bored tastebuds. I loved the very Bengali flavours of tangy, sweet, spicy, tomato sauce with that lovely flavour of kalonji.
- Liver on Toast - Liver pate on toast, topped with more chicken liver (blackened cajun style). Firstly, I know I shouldnt complain about generosity but there was too much liver on that pao to even pick it up and bite - balance is everything. Secondly, though I did find it quite tasty, the flavours were far from cajun and much closer to kakori. !
- Tiger Steak - Couldn't taste the black bean but the galangal flavours were nice. But again nothing memorable .
- Steak Cubes in Black Bean Sauce - If i remember correctly they brought this for us to try, after complaining of the missing black bean flavours in the last one. However, again could not taste the black bean, which is surprising because it isn't exactly the mildest of flavours. Either they ran out or are using a poor quality ingredient. As for the flavour - it tasted quite nice, nothing unique at all but not worth complaining over either.
- Tempura Calamari - The calamari had a slight smell to it, and it was undercooked (no I hate my calamari overcooked and rubbery - but also raw!). The batter was nice and light, though it did get soggy within 30 seconds of being on our table. Smelly, soggy, undercooked - definitely doesn't warrant a repeat order in my books.
Yes we ordered a lot. Besides the fact that their menu is massive - I just had bigger hopes for the food. And despite one mediocre dish after another, I still wasn't able to accept it till I tried one more just to be sure. I'm glad I did because at least now I know it wasn't a one off thing.
- Mobar Caramelised Ribs - Sadly, the ribs reached our table a bit cold. But otherwise they tasted pretty damn good and the meat was tender and fell right off the bone. A sweet sticky mess, just how I liked it.
- Mobar Burger - Now that was one mammoth burger, with a 300 gram tenderloin patty. It really would be a task to finish alone. One of the best things we ordered - packed with flavour. Still doesn't make it to my list of favourites but its definitely one of the better ones at a price point of Rs. 400 something.
- Goan Chorizo & Sausage Fried Rice - For a rice eater and a porcine freak, this is my kind of comfort food. Seductively smoky from those high wok flames and sausage. Desi-style fried rice, I catch myself still craving.
- Mobar Pineapple Onside In - Brioche bun baked with a rum soaked pineapple. Not exactly what I would call a brioche, but a combination between an American-style pancake and a malpua. Was fairly enjoyable never the less.
- Flourless Chocolate XS Cake - I think this was recommended to us, otherwise I have no logical excuse for ordering this because there were more intriguing desserts on the menu. Unfortunately the simple can be good thing didn't apply here either. It wasn't bad, but neither was it wonderful.
- Rum Mousse - Some cake and mousse combo if I remember correctly. Again it was just, what is the word I'm looking for... okay. I should have tried the sticky toffee pudding!
I really was quite excited for our first gastro-pub. I hoped to try some innovative, feel good food but instead got something mundane, and fairly average. Nothing was bad or inedible, and the place will do well it seems regardless of what I think. They have managed to provide their customers, value for money. In other words, the quality of the food, does exceed its price point. But it just didn't do it for me to warrant a return all that fast. Though their mammoth brunch/breakfast menu (sat & sun lunch) looks very enticing. The food lacks balance and finesse to be labelled a "gastro-pub". If you are in the area, definitely give it a try, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it either, at least not just for the food.
* This meal was on invite*
Outside Seating: No
Budget: Affordable - Dishes ranged from Rs. 250 - Rs. 500.
Plot 11, Upper Ground Floor, LSC, Pocket C 6 & 7, Vasant Kunj