Raasta sits four floors above street level. Part of a Delhi-based, Rastafarian-themed chain and spread over two floors, it’s been designed to be a restaurant, bar and gig space.
On the fourth floor, the elevator opens directly into a large room with an expansive, prominent bar at one end and seating occupying the rest of the space. In the centre, just off the bar, are high tables and bar stools for the bar experience and low tables and sofas for the lounge feel.
At the edge of the room, along two glass walls are regular tables for those who want to just dine. Edison lights run along the edge of the room while a series of lights fixed to the bottom of dabbas illuminates the centre. The lighting is subdued, the music is not.
We skipped the signature bongtails: cocktails served in a giant bong for a group, or a smaller (but still intimidatingly large) single-portion bong. They seemed to demand a night-long commitment, which we weren’t ready to make, though that might have been the better option. Our whisky sour was indifferent and the mocktail Raasta special was a sugary-sweet concoction of fruit juices.
The food menu held more promise. It’s a jumble of popular World Cuisine favourites, with a liberal dose of Indian, and a generous selection of Jamaican-inspired food. We ignored the Thai curries, hummus, pastas and pizzas, and dived into their Caribbean offerings.
We started with the rum spiked lamb bongs: plump, heavily spiced, minced balls that retained the flavour of the meat with a pleasing undercurrent of bitterness. The Jamaican country ribs that followed were not as satisfying. The two large, unwieldy racks of pork ribs were tough and chewy, and hadn’t quite absorbed the flavours of the spice. The best thing on the plate was the mashed potato.
The Ital stew, made with starchy vegetables like taro, potatoes as well as squash and root vegetables cooked in coconut milk, was a delightfully hearty mix of crunchy, sweet and mushy. The Caribbean chicken curry, with minced chicken in a moderately spicy, red curry that betrayed its Indian origins, was comfortingly familiar, but boring.
Raasta does well with its desserts. Our lemon tart had a firm, but crumbly crust, with the lemon curd that was perfectly tart, but too sweet. The sticky toffee pudding however managed to get all the flavours right; the bland, soft pudding was a perfect foil for the sweet, gooey toffee sauce that had been poured over it.
Raasta might find some success as a gig space, but the uneven quality of the food and drinks is unlikely to make it a dining destination.
Rating: 3 / 5
Where: Rohan Plaza, 5th Road, Khar Colony, Khar (West), Mumbai
When: 12 pm to 1 am
Cost: Rs 2,000 for two including one drink each
(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)