Comfort food finds a new home at No Vacancy in Khar
The second-storey bar & bistro serves killer cocktails, lobster mac and cheese, and a mean whiskey truffle pull that doubles as dessert.mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2017 10:45 IST
- RATING: **** (4 out of 5)
- WHERE: 12 Union Park, Pali Hill, Khar (W), Mumbai
- WHEN: 7 pm to 1 am
- COST: Around Rs 3,000 for two, with one cocktail each
- CALL: 2649-9844
- HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals
Pali Hill’s Union Park neighbourhood is where restaurants and bars open and shut with a certain fevered ferocity. No Vacancy is the latest example of this; it replaces the grunge-obsessed The Big Nasty. While the crowd may be the same (young people, and suited-up expats at the bar griping about the muggy weather), the actual space is a whole other story.
The dark, somber-looking entrance passage, a remnant of its earlier incarnation, is no precursor for what lies above. The second-floor, evenings-only restobar is now light and airy, with an overdose of white intensified by icy blue floor lighting. Ignore the wobbly tables and uncomfortable straight-backed chairs. What rescues No Vacancy from being “just another restobar” is the food and drink.
The sophisticated, potent cocktails, each set off with their own bar bites, are at odds with the comfort food, but it works well nonetheless. Our Meraki cocktail, with the punch of cold mulled wine, lemongrass vodka and champagne, came with marinated olives, goat’s cheese and crisp watermelon lollipops. A great start.
Ditto the lobster mac and cheese: a 50:50 ratio of lobster morsels to al dente rigatoni, in a silken cheese sauce, served in a hollowed-out lobster shell. At Rs 325 per serving, total value for money. Our server recommended the gypsy cocktail, a refreshing drinkable salad of sorts that was dispensed from a ceramic beaker, the vodka hit blending with cabbage, beetroot and cilantro flavours. It paired well with the porcini mushroom phyllo borek pastry.
The smoked duck tart, however, seemed like a better idea on paper than on plate. It was let down by a sickly sweet shortcrust pastry base. Its honey and pecorino cheese drizzle gave it an even more dessert-like feel. The tenderloin burger, was messy but more satisfying, a plump, rosemary-infused buffalo patty inside a beetroot-reddened bun, slathered with gooey melted cheese. The khao suey, a velvety galangal-infused vegetable curry, with rice noodles and crushed peanuts was equally good.
Desserts left us feeling shortchanged. We ignored the boring trio of choco lava/carrot/red velvet cakes for something that ‘pulled’ us right back to the bar. The whiskey truffle pull was all things a memorable dessert should be. A dark chocolate ganache generously spiked with single malt and served with light-as-air meringue and dense chocolate-truffle bits.
There’s a lot to like about No Vacancy – affordable fare, efficient service and an easy, un-pretentious vibe. For all that, we’re sure to be back.