Contributed by Hrishikesh Thakkar
When a radio frequency-themed facade greets you with retro/neon style signage that reads ‘Radio Bar’, you can get a sense of what to expect within. The ambience is quirkily different from the usual muted notes one is accustomed to.
With an entire screen pieced together with real audio cassettes scoured from local flea markets, to a section that sports radios from bygone eras and long forgotten brands, to raindrop-esque drop-down microphones that double up as lighting fixtures, Radio Bar boasts of three sections – indoor, al fresco and a private dining/dance area, each with their own bar counters.
As the crowd slowly seeped in, we sat in the outdoor area that featured swing seats, a projector screen and a bar-on-a-cart. Teeing off the proceedings was a Virgin Watermelon Sangria (INR 225) and Breakfast Martini (INR 420), given the muggy Mumbai weather. While the sangria was certainly bracing, the orange marmalade in the martini settled morosely to the bottom. Luckily the manager noticed and promptly came to our rescue. He whipped up a fresh drink shaking the marmalade with the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker – imminently better than the earlier version.
HAIL FELLOW, WELL MET
It was surprising to see several desi dishes with a slight twist like Onion Rings Panko (INR 280), Okra Fries (INR 245), Spinach Fritters (INR 245), Banana Fritters (INR 245), on Radio Bar’s menu. Could it be that the resto-bar decided to play safe by pandering to populist Indian palates?
We tried the Onion Rings Panko and wished we hadn’t! It lacked any remarkable flavors, which we have come to expect from Chef Rohan D’Souza now, and but for the Sriracha dip, the dish would have been a complete let down.
We hoped the Stuffed Prawns Ricotta Green Olive (INR 450) would fare better but were disappointed again. Every element was salty from the word go – from the inherent saltiness of the prawn, to the salt in the thin layer of cheese coating, to the salty bacon to the salt content in the salsa.
The Lamb and Bulgur Wheat Patties (INR 275) were agreeably moist and the yoghurt dressing adds to the succulence. But as bar foods go, it does not quite work because it is crumbly. Perhaps if the chef had placed it on a piece of lavash or in between bao buns?
Feeling morose, we luckily found succour in the quirkily named The Ouch (INR 475), where the kind bartender threw in contents from every bottle on the counter, which is why it had white rum, gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec, whiskey, blue curacao and some Red Bull, making it a pretty blue and very potent drink.
PIZZAS OF A DIFFERENT LEAGUE
We lost some of our new-found buzz while perusing the pizza menu. We glimpsed Truffle Pizza and were tempted to order it – till we saw the price and did a double take. Who would order a INR 4,500 pizza in a bar?
The only reason we wanted to order pizza was because we were told it was served on LPs, but on closer examination, the cheap plastic laminating the LPs took some edge off the presentation. Luckily, the Roasted Tomato Mozzarella, Walnuts pizza (INR 420) would surely do a Sicilian proud. Combining chickpeas, cheese and arugula couldn’t have been easy, but the chef managed to pull it off.
Ticking all the right notes was the Peri Peri Mascarpone Risotto (INR 435). The creaminess of the Arboria rice played well with the fieriness of Peri Peri sauce, while the cheesiness of ricotta made its presence felt too. T’was heavy on the stomach, but soothing for the soul too!
The thick chorizo sauce covered only half the fillet of Indian Salmon (INR 550) which had dried up a little. The potato au gratin served alongside was cooked to perfection as was the healthy portion of vegetable sautéed in butter. One thing we found constant in all the dishes we ordered was the omniscience of the microgreens. It was almost as if the chef had received an extra batch of them and they were nearing their use-by date!
Just like the frequency of radio channels keep fluctuating, the flavours of dishes served at Radio Bar waver between various bandwidths. The atmosphere of the resto-bar does warrant another visit, and the drinks make a strong case too, and we would give the food the benefit of doubt for now.