The Monkey Bar Evolution is here. Seven years since they have been launched, India’s first gastropub presents an all new menu that’s light-hearted, with dishes that are high on comfort, taste and flavours yet unconventional with playful twist. The amazing new menu offering 41 exciting new dishes and 8 brilliant new signature cocktails to whet every appetite and re-invent the rules of a gastropub experience!
To start with let’s first meet the barman. Monkey Bar’s cocktails have always raised the bar, steering away from sweet, syrupy concoctions to fresher flavours with depth and variety. In their evolved menu they picked up some old Indian favourites and combining them with unique ingredients is what makes the signature cocktails at Monkey Bar so interesting. Tomesh Collins is the local twist to Tom Collins, a citrusy gin-based concoction that incorporates lime murabba with dash of sweet & sour and topped with tonic water. Rasam Mary is the South Indian twist to the classic cocktail Bloody Mary. Tomato pepper rasam replacing the mundane tomato juice with delightful combination of vodka and lemon salt rim. Imli Sour, the bar’s take on the traditional whiskey sour. This tamarind-spiked whiskey sour with traces of ginger has the balance of sweet, sour and even a little salty. I personally like it smoky with high peated whisky.
If we head towards small plates prepared inside tandoor then stuffed flatbread is one such option. In Northern part of India these breads are called kulcha and best enjoyed steaming hot straight out of clay oven. At Monkey Bar they have introduced Onion and Cheese Kulcha with generous stuffing of chopped onions and indigenous Kalimpong cheese. They also have non-veg variant with minced smoked bacon. Enjoy this with green chili chutney and dollops of white butter. There is also the Paneer and Tarkari Shashlik. Soft and creamy paneer marinade in chili garlic paste with capsicum, tomatoes and onions skewers baked to perfection. Served with mint coriander chutney.
In non-tandoor small plates we had Samosa Chaat. The famous chaat from Dilli got crispy fried mini samosas stuffed with curried potato and green peas, topped with chutney and a side of Sindhi style khatti dal. Again for your knowledge, khatti dal is a thick and tangy curry made with mix of manoor, toor and arhar dal. If you are looking for unapologetic carb rush then Unauthentic Poutine is my prescription. Perfectly cut long and thin French fries with overload of cheese sauce and mushroom gravy on the bed of caramelized onions, peppers and pickled chilis mixed with smoked bacon. An excellent choice for finger food too along with cocktails.
Also new on the small plates section is the Indian Odyssey Platter – a perfect dish to order when you are out with a large group of friends. Taking inspiration from the traditional Mediterranean platter, they have taken it to the next level with a Bengali style baingan bharta (our answer to babaganoush), kaddu hummus, salted labneh with honey, bonda vada (to replace the falafel) and pickled shalgam or turnip and carrots with Kalimpong cheese. On the platter is Mangalorean kori roti, fryums and Gujrati fafda to scoop up all the delicious dips. From the oriental world, the menu also lists Ghee Roast Bao. Spicy minced prawn stuffed in a Chinese steamed closed bao and griddle with desi ghee (clarified butter). Enjoy these fluffy and soft bao with the aroma of desi ghee, drooling? If you are allergic to prawns then there is also option of pulled chicken. For fish lovers there is an option of Meen Pollichathu. Fried Fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked with spicy masala sauce and coconut milk. The flavour penetrates well into the fish and the aroma of banana leaf is divine. This South Indian fish dish will surely take your food experience up by a notch with its delectable flavours.
Monkey Bar has always been known for its burgers and pizzas, drawing crowds from across the country. One of such innovation is MFC (Monkey Fried Chicken) Burger. The pillow soft eggless plain milk buns burger layer is made with a juicy spice-fried chicken which is teamed up with black bean mayo, cheese sauce, tomato and arugula. The chicken is super crispy outside and succulent inside. The perfectly balanced burger filling make this a mouthful with each bite. For vegetarians there’s the Barnyard Burger made with a crispy fried vegetable patty with red pepper relish, wine- braised onions, baked beans and white cheddar cheese. In pizza, one can opt for Harissa Chicken & Salami Pizza. Super thin crust topped with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, tomato sauce, chicken tossed in harissa, chicken salami and pickled onions. Another good choice to go with drinks.
Winter is standing at our porch and my all day comfort food is the piping hot Tibetan Thukpa. Glad to see this feature in the evolved menu. The soupy noodle originated from Tibet is very popular at northern hilly regions. Tibetans traditionally use mutton, beef or yak for the meat, but it is also delicious in its veggie incarnation. Throw in some bok choy, cabbage, carrot, broccoli and amp it up with gundruk chutney. Those who do not know, gundruk is fermented green vegetable leaves paste. The soupy noodle did not able to recreate the flavour of the mountains.
Monkey Bar is also serving a Masala Chai Eton Mess in desserts, a messy take on the traditional English meringue-based dessert, which features shards of delicious meringue and is topped with chianti cream, berry chilli compote and masala chai powder. This utterly failed to impress me due to too much sweetness and lack of masala chai flavour.
Pocket Pinch: Average Price for Two: Rs. 1400++ for two persons without alcohol excluding taxes / Rs. 2000 ++ for two persons with alcohol excluding taxes
Bro Tip: Must try Tomesh Collins, Unauthentic Poutine, Ghee Roast Bao, Meen Pollichathu and MFC Burger