A rainbow-striped unicorn entered our peripheral vision, with the aroma of an apple sheesha, as we sat down to meaty gosht ka halwa for dessert. No, this wasn’t some substance-induced trip. It’s what actually happened at A Bar Called Life.
A radically different version of its previous avatar as Villa 69, a staid, all-white place with European food, A Bar’s elaborate decor and pan-Indian menu sets the tone a few notches higher.
A dark, brooding antechamber with black leather couches and a smallish bar gives way to an al fresco courtyard scattered with metallic Plexiglas chairs, velvet high-back chaise-longues, with backlit tables on a shimmering black tiled floor. This is where we saw the aforementioned unicorn sculpture standing guard. A lush, vertical garden fences the space off from surrounding apartment buildings. It also muffles the din from Juhu Circle a few yards away.
Chef Amninder Sandhu’s food and drinks are as eclectic as they are experimental. We started off with a robust, white rum-based kadi patta mojito that had an unprecedented hit of mustard seeds. It lent a spicy note to the knock-out cocktail.
Wish we could have said the same for the amrood pani puri shots. They were let down by stale, chewy puris and a stingy pour of vodka and guava nectar. It was essentially a bland pani puri.
As a drink accompaniment, we had a Moradabadi dal ki chaat, made from mashed lentils and potatoes anointed with tamarind sauce and crunchy sev. It came nestled in the flaky core of a square khari vol-au-vent base. Our trio of shami kebab sliders were composed of delicately spiced kebabs in buttered paos, with a cooling mint chutney and spicy karare aloo on the side. Encore-worthy.
For mains, the sarro da saag hor kuddu, served thali-style, was the almost perfect sum of its buttery saag, radish-and-onion salad and jaggery parts. But sadly, it was let down by a tiny, solitary, dry makki di roti that seemed to be begging for some ghee lovin’. The bamboo smoked mutton teamed with sticky jasmine rice was a great nod to India’s north-eastern cuisine. It came with succulent pieces of mutton and had a subtle and earthy taste.
Our final dish for the evening had us tongue-tied. The saffron and cardamom-scented gosht ka halwa, made with mutton mince and khoya, was a risky pick. But it came accompanied by a double scoop of malty, creamy nolengurer ice-cream. For that, we’re willing to go back, anytime.
A Bar Called Life
Rating: 3 / 5
Where: C/O Paradise Banquets, opposite PVR Cinemas, Juhu
Timings: 6 pm to 1.30 am
Cost: About Rs 3,300 for two, with one cocktail each
(HT pays for all meals and reviews anonymously)