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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Last Orders: not playing safe anymore

Serena Menon, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, March 01, 2013
First Published: 15:05 IST(1/3/2013) | Last Updated: 19:07 IST(1/3/2013)

Not so long ago, Jazz By The Bay changed its name to Not Just Jazz By The Bay. They obviously wanted to cater to a wider audience that was getting driven away by ‘all that jazz’. The theory proved to be right when the Marine Drive establishment eventually became Pizza By The Bay.

Back then, nightclubs like Polly Esthers, best known for retro music, used to gladly succumb to requests for Bollywood ‘mujik’ post midnight to keep the crowd entertained. And that’s the same reason the concept of multi-cuisine restaurants thrived in Mumbai. They all wanted to have on offer something for everyone; safety in numbers.

But that age of playing safe seems to be nearing its end. New eateries are fearlessly serving only authentic cuisine (as experimental as that may be). Pubs and clubs offer music and experiences that might only please a small segment and not impress just about everyone.

Three new Japanese eateries in Bandra-Khar — Aoi, Kofuku and Sushi Café — don’t need to serve spring rolls to comfort newbies who, in a way, are being baptised by fire. Restaurants like Amigos in Andheri aren’t afraid to serve only varieties of Burritos and Fajitas. Serafina in Lower Parel prides itself on its exclusively Italian fare.

When F.Lounge.Diner.Bar set up shop in Mumbai last year, it too consciously moved away from the popular playlists. “We have a policy of no Bollywood on regular nights,” Sanjay Mani, brand extension head at FTV said.

Sunny Sara, co-owner of a nightclub called LIV, which used to be one of the most famous joints in town (called Red Light), took a stance when he re-launched the venue too: “We’ve done the commercial bit with Red Light. This time, it’s a small space for about 300-400 people, and to maintain that exclusivity, it’s going to be an ‘only guest list’ club,” he said, at the expense of putting off a lot of people.

Unfortunately, or not, in this process, the ones who like Hindi filmi music have been left with few options. With the genre almost having become a bad word, the only time you get to hear it is at wedding functions.

But India, and as a result, Mumbai, has become a market that’s caught global attention. Entrepreneurs in the country are being joined by international chefs, who are constantly in and out of the city, leaving behind influence and setting up restaurants like Suzette (Nariman Point and Bandra) and Di Napoli (Nariman Point). Indigo and Wasabi, for instance, made it to a list of 50 best restaurants in Asia earlier this week.

This is proving to be the year of food and drink. And no one’s missing the paneer pizza or Govinda numbers.


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