Move over, Sher Khan! The monkey is the king of this jungle. And by ‘jungle’ I mean, the resto bar scene in Mumbai. The monkey in question here is Bandra’s newest gastro pub Monkey Bar – making both food lovers and party goers go bananas! After a successful stint in both Bangalore and Delhi, the much talked about Monkey Bar arrived to the queen of suburbs in May this year. Bandra is derived from the word ‘Vandre’, meaning monkey in Marathi because of the frequent sightings of monkeys during olden times, making it an apt and ironical location for the Monkey Bar!
I have had the opportunity of visiting Monkey Bar on three occasions – twice anonymously, and once on invite. Here is my take on why Monkey Bar has been able to achieve unprecedented success in all three cities, and why I think more such drink and dine spaces are required.
Concept – Claiming to be the country’s first gastro-pub, Monkey Bar pleases both the foodie and the alcoholic. Gone are the days when places either serve great food or great cocktails. I love that one doesn’t have to make that choice any more. Places like Monkey Bar offer the best of both – the vibe and essence of a pub, backed with great food. The menu is non-conformist and quirky, bringing together all the signature dishes you would see at a bar with a desi twist. The drink menu is exhaustive with signature cocktails. There’s a fun element throughout the bar, seen in the decor, music, and they even have a foosball table. So clearly, Monkey Bar provides the best of both worlds, having the potential to be your friendly neighborhood bar where ‘everybody knows your name’.
Gone are the days when scouting for gifts meant going to your nearest Archies or Hallmark outlet. Gone are the days when reasons for gifting were limited to birthdays or anniversaries. The occasions have multiplied, and so has the need for customized gifts. Who doesn’t love receiving a gift that is personalized? Something that belongs only to you, and depicts the amount of thought that has gone behind the gift.
During a recent quest for a personalized gift for a loved one, I stumbled upon a new gifting site – Happiness Boxed #ClickOpenSmile. The webstore is the brainchild of Vidhi Pansari, who at the age of 21 decided to stray away from the conventional career route and start her own gifting venture. With a lot of gifting vendors and brands under the label, she plans to make Happiness Boxed, a one-stop-shop for personalized gifting needs. The store currently has a host of dessert options such as cookies with messages on them, whoopee cushions, edible soil, custom cupcakes, and more. The gifting section has some fun stuff like custom Taboo cards, household items, and dreamcatchers, that are so hard to find! They also do personalized hampers and gifts depending on the occasion, which I think is perfect for the lazy shopper!
Having rummaged through the entire site, I shortlisted some really fun and interesting products that I would definitely want to gift someone. Or receive as a gift. Either way, here are my top five picks from the Happiness Boxed site.
Lunch time at the new job was posing to be a difficult task. On some days I’d get a dabba from home, and those days were good. On the days I was dabba-less, I was forced to eat thela Chinese, greasy burgers, chaat, buttery sandwiches, from the stalls around me. Working in the midst of Temptation Land aka Bandra Linking road was proving to be detrimental to health.
I was looking for some good quality home cooked lunch on the days I would not get my dabba as I was tired of eating fast food. Tying up with a dabba service was not feasible as most of them required me to sign up for a month or atleast a week. And then those who did one-day dabbas required a 24 hours notice. So you see, none of the logistics seem to be working out for me, until I stumbled upon the TinyOwl HomeMade App, which is available both for Android and IOS users.
I conveniently ignored the original TinyOwl app which focuses on home delivery options from restaurants based on your location, because I thought who needed another home delivery app? But the Home Made version of this TinyOwl has made meal times so much easier. Tiny Owl Home Made brings ghar ka khana from home chefs, cooks, and moms to your doorstep. Currently operating in areas like Bandra, BKC, Andheri E, Ghatkopar, Powai, I got to chose between a number of different home style meals, which are rotated on a daily basis.
Call me old but I prefer Sunday brunches to partying on a Saturday night. There’s nothing like waking up late on a Sunday, well rested from the week’s mayhem, and catching up with friends over a relaxed, leisurely brunch. There’s no better feeling than eating breakfast foods for lunch, sipping on cocktails, without worrying about deadlines to get back home. No, this is not an essay about why I love Sunday brunches, though I could totally write one. This post is about why I loved the Sunday brunch at Asilo, and three reasons why you would too.
1. The View:
Situated on the 40th floor of the swanky Palladium Hotel, the gorgeous view is what sets apart Asilo from any other brunch destination in the city. During the first monsoon brunch, Asilo was completely transformed from the noir night look it sports, to a far more subtle, airy, cheery day look. Whites, fluid decor, flowers, and plenty of natural sunlight streaming through the large glass paneled windows will brighten up your Sunday afternoon.
And that view! Imagine nursing your drink overlooking a panoramic view of South Mumbai with the pitter patter of rain outside. Or eating waffles and pancakes, with one eye on the ongoings at the race course, which you get a birds eye view of here. For the spectacular view, and ambiance I’d return to the Sunday Monsoon brunch at Asilo. And before I forget, there’s a live saxophone player as well, playing the most delightfully enchanting music.
‘Why are you going to put yourself through all that trouble and mess? Don’t you know the stalls around Bohri Mohalla and Mohammed Ali road are open all year round too?’, a friend exclaimed to me, as I told her I was planning to attend an Iftaar Walk hosted by the Pet Pujaris on a Sunday evening. Honestly, visiting the Bohri Mohalla area during Ramzan is about more than just food. It is an experience. The lights and sounds are captivating. You cannot help but get drawn into the festivities and camaraderie. It’s such a beautiful amalgamation of people from different cultures, religions, and walks of life. Case in point, our little group of 29 ‘foodies’ had a young man from Brazil, a US Embassy officer, a of Gujarati who ate more meat than I did, and a one year old infant who enthusiastically stayed awake through the entire chaos.
And then there’s the food. Smells of meat being grilled, malpuas being fried, and masalas being coated. Sights of colourful firnis and halwas on display, kebabs hanging off skewers, and ginormous tawas cooking up every meat imaginable. In addition to a lot of old favorites, I got to try out a bunch of new places and dishes which I would not have had the inclination to experiment with had it not been for the crowd I was with. Hats off to our guides for the night, brother duo – Taha and Qadir Varawala, and Breakfast Queen – Pratishtha Khan, who knew and recommended dishes with such ease you would think they were maneuvering around their own house.
We started off at Sarvi in Byculla, renowned for having the city’s best seekh kababs. Don’t let the cat prowling around the kitchen, or the potatoes rolling around the floor, deter you from entering this haven. Because, haven it is! I attained nirvana when I opened that casserole, and found dozens of seekh kababs staring back at me. The beef (water buffalo, duh!) seekh kebabs are perfectly spiced, and the meat literally melts in your mouth. I was left wondering how the real deal would have tasted, pre-beef ban era. I preferred the beef ones to the chicken, even though a few thought otherwise. I ate a Tongue Masala for the first time, and quite enjoyed the taste. It was not as meat-y as I expected, and the masala gravy was finger licking. The creamy Bheja Masala was another favorite.