When Harry’s Met Bangalore

 

Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Rd. is a stretch I frequent quite a lot and so, new spots that open tend to register. I was quite excited, a couple months ago, to note the opening of Harry’s. The signage pointed to its being Bangalore’s own version of the well known Singapore chain, and my Chef at Large editing gig had already e-introduced me to the Mumbai and Delhi versions. I’ve been to the Clarke Quay Harry’s in Singapore on my first trip to that island nation, and I was looking forward to checking out the Bangalore branch. An invite to watch India’s premier female mixologist, Shatbhi Basu showcase signature Harry’s cocktails as well as ones she specially created for the India Harry’s was accepted with alacrity, despite the ominous Friday night rush hour traffic haul across town from South Bangalore. I was late but thanks to the presence of a local tv station’s camera and crew, still made it before Shatbhi began her demo for us. After a round of hugs and love exchanged with blogger friends I had not seen in a while, we waited for the tv crew to make way for our “experience”.

Singapore Sling
Singapore Sling

Having interacted with Shatbhi before, I was looking forward to an engaging and informative cocktail-making session, and that it was. She deftly made four cocktails for us, then the guys behind the bar made a round of each – and there was a marked difference in the versions she created versus what they served. A perfect example of the discrepancy was the Singapore Sling, a classic drink synonymous with Singapore that is generally too sweet (as was what we got from behind the bar) but Shatbhi’s was pitch perfect – the balance of gin, cherry brandy, pineapple and lime was spot on. The second drink, a Shatbhi creation, was the stand out and the one most of us ordered seconds of: a Pineapple and Bell Pepper Margarita, with the bite of green, red and yellow peppers alongside the tequila and pineapple flavors, making for a mildly spicy and fresh drink. Next up was Harry’s Old Fashioned, a twist on the whiskey sour, with orange peel and a hint of caramel. I am a fan of this genre but the use of Teachers made it too raw for my liking. The last drink of the evening was another Shatbhi special – The Caramel Popcorn, which was a hit with many since it contained Baileys and was thick and sweet.

Alongside our cocktails, we were served 4-5 Harry’s starters. Two were good, the rest were completely unremarkable and more in keeping with a local Chinese restaurant than an upscale bar. It was another case of marked differentiation – the Wasabi Paneer and Thai Green Curry Pizza were both innovative, surprising, and quite delicious! Who ever knew that green curry on pizza or paneer coated in wasabi and nori and served tempura style would be so good?! The Chilli Potatoes and Chicken Drumsticks were, as I said, nothing to dwell on. I would have really liked to sample more of Harry’s fare before writing this, but having been unable to get there over the last month, and honestly, not finding the ambience or food and drink enticing enough to schlep to Indiranagar just to hang out there, this is based on that one evening. Bottom line: it’s a neighbourhood bar, nothing to rave about but if you’re there and looking for a watering hole, it’s as good or bad as the next.

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in