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A BLUE AFFAIR

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

In an era of loud night clubs and noisy revellers, No Vacancy is a fun but relaxing place to enjoy yourself, and a few drinks. Trisha Ghoroi stepped into the newly opened bar and bistro and left awestricken

With subtle blue lighting that grows dimmer through the evening and music that gets louder, this bar definitely captures the essence of Mumbai’s night life in its full sense. Located in Union Park in Bandra’s Pali Hill area, the bar has a hidden entrance which you will have to find in order to enter its comforting confines. And, once you’re inside, you can forget about the world. The interiors have a modern yet rustic charm, with white table tops and wooden stools, and the white walls are covered with funky art. The concept of this bar and bistro is to introduce customers to what is known as “bar cuisine”. Their bartenders are called “bar-chefs” because they cook as well as create cocktails.

Inside, the vastness of the restaurant welcomed us. The bar right in front of us was a visual treat, with shelves decorated with not only bottles, but also creative set-ups in which cocktails are served. The restaurant has ample seating for a large audience without making you feel cramped for space. The ambiance left us in awe and we were excited to see whether the food would be able to keep up.

The elaborate menu of both food and cocktails will sweep you off your feet. It will make you feel hungry even before you order your food. But don’t fret; the complimentary bread platter to munch on as your drinks are prepared will keep your hunger pangs at bay. The bread platter includes three kinds of bread and two dips, and we loved the one with Italian flavours.

Their cocktails are lively and we liked that their signature cocktail comes with a bar dish, which complements the drink. This is different from what you are accustomed to at other lounges. We tried the Gypsy (Rs. 475) and it was true to its spirit. The vodka-based cocktail with vegetable stock and a few healthy ingredients tasted better than we expected. Served in a ceramic pot/glass hybrid with a side of beetroot sticks, it was definitely a unique drink. Next on the menu was Say Hi To The “Devil” (Rs. 495), which was a visual treat. Served in glass enclosure, it looks like a piece from a museum. This truffle-infused vodka drink is sweet but not too strong. It came with a side of chocolate vanilla dust, which provided an interesting texture against the cocktail. The line of cocktails called the Herbal Long Tea (Rs. 595) is ideal for someone who likes a strong shot of alcohol, as each one includes four types of liquor. We decided to go with the HL6 (Rs. 595) and didn’t regret it one bit. With flavours of vanilla, chocolate and orange, this cocktail was the refreshing drink we needed.

Feeling content with our order of drinks, it was time to move on to the food. They decided to serve us Californian cuisine. Their elaborate menu stretches from breakfast, soups and salads to lip-smacking fast food such as burgers, hotdogs and pizza. It wasn’t easy to choose because we wanted just about everything, but we finally decided what we were going to order.

The vegetarian appetisers looked good enough to make a non-vegetarian drool. The Cottage Cheese Trusses (Rs. 275), a spicy grilled cottage cheese dish, created an explosion of flavour in our mouths. But, if you want something milder, try the Mushroom Börek (Rs. 295). A hearty filling of porcini mushroom delicately wrapped in sheets of pastry gives this dish an earthy taste. From the non-vegetarian appetisers, we chose a familiar name — the Smoked Chicken Shawarma (Rs. 275) — but were a little surprised to see flat pita bread instead of the heavy ones we are used to. However, the chef knows best, as the smoked chicken filling with the hummus went perfectly with the flat bread. The Bacon Wrapped Prawns (Rs. 325) were next on our list. The juicy prawns had a spicy kick, but we found the bacon a bit chewy. 

As time wore on, people started pouring in and the music became louder. Sipping on our cocktails and taking selfies, we were waiting for our Chicken Schnitzel Bleu (Rs. 350). This burger looked like it came straight out of an America pub, served on a wooden tray with potato wedges and salad on the side. It was definitely an Instagram-worthy presentation. The chicken patty had a cheese filling, which oozes out as you bite into it, and the multigrain bun is soft. The potato wedges are simply the best we’ve had. The Mexican Red Hot (Rs. 275) was the hotdog of our dreams. Thanks to the melted, stringy mozzarella cheese on top, it tasted like heaven!

A section on the menu called The Lava Stone Grillers caught our eye, and at the chef’s recommendation we tried the Rosemary Tenderloin (Rs. 875). The beef (buffalo, of course!), cooked medium rare and served with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, was a complete dish. The meat was cooked to perfection and the seasoning complemented its flavour very well. From the main course menu, we decided to try the Green Thai Curry (Rs. 375), which is available in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. As soon as we tasted the curry, we realised that we needed to train our palate before we get ourselves to like a dish like this. Served with rice, this too is a meal in itself.

Even though we were full, there’s always room for dessert, right? Looking at the menu, we could not resist ordering our all-time favourite — Chocolate Lava Cake (Rs. 275). Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the cake was soft with the warm filling oozing out. The milk chocolate centre had the perfect amount of sweetness to complement the cake. The last item we ordered was the Seasonal Fresh Fruit Cheesecake (Rs. 275), which was served in mango flavour. The cheesecake was creamy and light with chunks of mangoes on top — an ideal way to end our meal.

If you’re looking for a relaxing place with amazing food and drinks, then No Vacancy should definitely be on your list. A perfect hangout spot away from the noise of the city, this lounge is made for drinks, and the ambiance will make you fall in love with the space.

Where: Level 2, Shatranj Napoli, Off Carter Road, 12 Union Park, Pali Hill

Meal for two: Rs. 1,600

Alcohol served: Yes (a pint of beer from Rs. 175 onwards)

Contact: 33126110

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