The pretty girls on Fashion TV make the complicated entry process better. The Lynchburg makes up for the fact that the crunchy cucumber cocktail is just a flavoured martini. And the delicious blue cheese naan cancels out Nelly’s Ride With Me.
Our entire Wednesday night at the newly opened F Lounge, Diner and Bar could be divided into two columns - each time something good happened, an evil wasn’t far behind. Balance is good, sure, but when you’re paying Rs 5,000 + for a meal for two, we expect the scale to be pretty lopsided.
Located inside the One India Bulls Centre and on the same floor as Gold’s Gym, means you’ll have to ride the elevator with many wife beater vests to get to this lounge bar. While this Scouter breezed in, her dining companion who arrived 15 minutes earlier was asked to participate in a series of rituals – provide a mobile number, receive a code on SMS, add it to the computer – before he could get to his Hoegaarden at the bar. Some drinks, you just earn.
Prawn Pani Puri, Anyone?
The two-storey space is huge with a bias for the bottom that gets all the fun bits – bar, DJ console and terrace lounge where only a few strategic chairs afford a good view. Upstairs, the seating may be more sedate, but diners still have access to the same music as the revelers below, which is not always a good thing. Interesting though, is the ceiling and wall behind the bar that sport lights fitted in twisted wooden beams.
We settled at a table upstairs and browsed the menu – make sure to ask for the one with the prices noted on it. Making the ordering easier was a perfect-for-the-parched lemonade and whisky Lynchburg cocktail and the slightly disappointing green apple-cucumber martini, whose description alluded to crunchy cucumbers that weren’t in sight. Other than that, it was well made. The special cocktails here cost Rs 700 (prices have already been increased by Rs 100 since opening day, we were told) and Rs 280 for a beer.
The three page food menu, designed by Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia, has Indian dishes like dhokla, chole and aaloo chaat wearing contemporary new dos. The puchkas for instance, that flagged off the meal, are prawn and potato filled puris served with shots of spicy green mango water. So much fun in theory and practice, but on the taste buds, they’re just okay. Much better were the soft goat cheese and cashew nut cigar rolls, although we suspect there was some paneer in there too.
With the mains, that fared much better than the appetisers, came the blue cheese naan, our best order for the night. Filled with sharp melted blue cheese, these were great to mop up the coconut prawn curry, silky and fragrant. The Patiala chicken that we hoped would be flambed with whisky at our table, was already drunk when it arrived. No theatrics, but a great show put up by the creamy, spiced tomato-based gravy. Vegetarians have less imaginative options like paneer makhani masalaedar, sesame cauliflower stir fry and chilli-garlic asparagus with baby corn. At the end we had no room for the rabdi or rasmalai available that day.
While the kebabs at F Lounge, Diner and Bar are indeed chic, they aren’t gorgeous enough to warrant another six grand visit. That combined with the inconvenient location and unremarkable interior, means it’s probably not going to be on our radar for repeat visits. Well, there is that blue cheese naan, so you never really know.
Getting there: One India Bulls Centre, 3rd floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Elphinstone Road, call 66505820 for reservations.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
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