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Bottoms up

The Lazy Dog, as a jazz bar, could use a bit more spunk in its décor, but the menu makes up for the ambience with an array of well-priced cocktails and satisfactory bar bites. Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi writes.

mumbai Updated: Jan 12, 2013 01:21 IST
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Hindustan Times

The Lazy Dog describes itself as ‘India’s first jazz bar chain’, but the more fitting selling point is not what’s on the speakers — which is commonplace — but what’s on the menu.

‘Patrons’ can get TLD’s version of a Long Island iced tea — called Seven Island iced tea, named after the city’s pre-reclamation geography, and flavoured with kalakhatta syrup — at Rs 300 for a 60ml pour, all taxes included.

In TLD, a ‘patron’ is someone who signs up for a patron card (currently priced at Rs 250) and can then get all drinks at less than half the menu prices, which are already lower than the prices at most fancy restaurants.

All cocktails, for instance, are Rs 300 for card-carrying patrons and Rs 620 for regular guests, so the card pays for itself immediately.

At patron prices, a 30ml pour of Woodford Reserve bourbon costs Rs 300, Lagavulin 16 Years is Rs 550 and Stella and Hoegarden on tap will soon be available at Rs 300.

These prices have been achieved with the help of strategic alliances with liquor companies; the patron card will work across branches.

We got a better Seven Island iced tea and rose margarita than our friends did, thanks to them. They were there before us and said all the house cocktails were too sugary, so we requested half the amount of syrup and an extra shot of lemon juice on the side. Service is appropriately sweet and very accommodating.

TLD has no kitchen but provides satisfactory bar bites. Marinated meats and vegetables are brought in from Ayub’s next door and grilled in a tiny open section at the back. The manager said similar food alliances would be set up at upcoming outlets in Powai, Lower Parel, Andheri and elsewhere.

We wiped the plate of mutton seekhs clean, even scooping up the shot glass of in-house garlic-yogurt chutney with a spoon after the kebabs were gone. Sadly, our mutton boti was tough, and the tandoori mushrooms nicely charred but uninspired. We’ll try the tandoori sweet potato, another in-house creation, on our next visit.

TLD’s faults are easily corrected. The lighting is more quick-service diner than bar or pub; some dimmers would make it more atmospheric. The palette is too grandmom beige; some colour would liven it up. The photos of the jazz artists could be blown up to maybe half the size of the picture of Tsar (who used to be the owner’s Dalmatian, the lazy dog after whom the bar is named). The acoustics and jazz selection have plenty of untapped potential. And less chairs, more couches please. If it’s a jazz bar, we’d like to lounge while sipping on cheap drinks with large groups of friends.

The concerts
Notes from all over

This week, socio-cultural organisation Hridayesh Arts will organise the 23rd edition of its three-day, winter classical music festival, often called the ‘Sawai Gandharva of Mumbai’ — a reference to the annual festival in Pune started by Bhimsen Joshi. “Our focus is on the music-loving middle class, who are prepared to pay if the ticket prices are reasonable,” says Hridayesh Arts chairman Avinash Prabhavalkar.

This year’s star-studded line-up includes flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, sarodist Amjad Ali Khan, sitarist Shahid Pervez, Kathak legend Birju Maharaj and vocalists Rashid Khan and Parveen Sultana. The first session, which begins this evening, will feature performances by vocalists Shounak Abhisheki and Malini Rajurkar.

Pune-based Abhisheki, 42, is the son and pupil of the late Jitendra Abhisheki. Following in the footsteps of his father, he combines the best elements of the Agra and Jaipur gharanas in his khyal singing, with taans that are vibrant and crystal clear.

Hyderabad-based Rajurkar, 71, bowled over her first-ever audience at Pune’s Sawai Gandharva music festival in the late 1960s. Trained in the Gwalior gharana under Balasaheb Poonchwale and Vasantrao Rajurkar, her voice is strong and resonant and she is considered a master of the tappa folk form of Punjab, classicalised by the early Gwalior gharana singers in the 19th century. Rajurkar invests the tappa with racy descending swoops. She will be performing in the city after a long gap.

— Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Remembering a maestro
A month after his death, several artists and institutions from across the city are organising a tribute to sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.

The initiative was conceived by singer Soma Ghosh and sitarist Rajendra Varman, the Halim Academy of Sitar Sangit Mahabharti music academy, cultural organisation Swarnankur and audio products company Madhu Murchhana to bring together artists whose lives the maestro had touched and influenced.

“Ravi Shankar was not just a great musician, he was a cultural ambassador for our country. He introduced Indian culture to the rest of the world,” says sitar maestro Halim Jaffer Khan, the sole survivor of the triumvirate of great sitar players, which comprised Khan, Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan.

Khan will speak at the event, where short clips of the maestro's performances will also be screened.

Among those invited to pay their respects and share their experiences at the event are tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, tabla and sitar player Nayan Ghosh, santoor maestro Satish Vyas, sarangi maestro Ram Narayan, lyricist Gulzar and classical dancers Sitara Devi and Hema Malini.

There will also be brief sitar recitals by Zunain Khan, Pandit Arvind Parikh and Ganesh Mohan, and Kartick Kumar, a senior sitarist and pupil of Shankar.

— Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The food
Party time

Waroda Road is becoming the new food street in Bandra. In the past two months, several meat-lovers have made their way to this narrow lane to enjoy schnitzels at German food joint Imbiss. Now, halfway down the road, there’s a buzz of new activity. Stir Fry Tadka (SFT), much tinier than Imbiss, is a slightly tacky takeaway at the moment, but arrangements are being made for three small tables inside and two outside, on the pavement.

Owned by the same folks who run Hap-Ningz’s in Kandivli, SFT offers dhaba-style grub — mostly tikkas, kebabs, dals, biryanis as well as kadhai, makhanwala, and bhuna masala preparations — that is reasonably priced, heavy on fat and spice, designed for a house party and perfect for after a couple of drinks.

The menu’s typeface and styling may be inspired by north Indian eatery Urban Tadka, but owner Manpreet Man-chanda who sits at the counter and takes orders assured us that that’s where the similarity ends.

He recommended that we try the dal makhani, homemade by his mother and transported to the restaurant every day. It was beautifully smoky and well-spiced and not greasy, but we could have done without that note of sweetness and with a more homogenous texture. Our paneer kadhai and mutton kheema were both pleasant, if we ignored the glossy streaks on our plates. The lasooni chicken tikka managed to outshine our tasty and perfectly cooked chicken achaari one. Aloo chatpatta lived up to its description — crunchy outside and steamy inside. We abandoned the chewy tandoori roti for a roomali that paired well with our kheema. As the name suggests, SFT will soon serve Chinese chow. The walls of the restaurant feature a Chinese man alongside a sardar, with earthen pots on one side and woks on another.

Put these two cuisines together, at these affordable rates, and Bandra’s party houses have another menu to stick onto their refrigerators.

— Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)

The exhibition
Nature, nostalgia

French artist Maite Delteil will be in Mumbai this weekend with a solo exhibition at Colaba’s Art Musings gallery. She last visited the city six years ago.

Titled Enchanted, this show features the artist’s recent oil paintings, depicting plump, cheerfully coloured trees set against dreamlike landscapes. At first glance, these paintings seem to focus on the beauty of nature, but a deeper analysis reveals that they are meant to invoke the experience of shuttling between memory and fantasy, wakefulness and dreaming.

Delteil uses detailed brushstrokes to form maroon, bubble-like cherries, heavy piles of fallen snow, thick foliage, flowers and frayed branches that have decayed over time.

“Art Musings has shared a long, close relationship with Maite Delteil, and this is her third solo exhibition with us,” says Sangeeta Chopra, gallery director, Art Musings. “Her works are exquisite renditions of landscape and still-life and a celebration of nature.”

Art Musings will also release a coffee table book at the exhibition, which documents the artist’s work through her career. The book also has some rare family photos, including those with her husband, Indian artist Sakti Burman, and text by art critic Alka Pande and arts consultant Anupa Mehta, and poems by art critic Ranjit Hoskote.

— Pankti Mehta