The proof, they say, of a good pudding is in its eating. And that of a promising place is how it makes you feel on a difficult of day like Monday, when we headed out to check the newest member of the flourishing watering hole club in suburban Mumbai – Loca Loca in Khar.
City’s first Cuban themed bar, Loca Loca shares the address of now closed WTF and the forgotten Hungry Birds once stood. So finding it is easy, and if not – given that the lane is populated by two more bars, U Turn and Hangover, we suggest walk it by the ear, literally. The music, and not the signage, is its distinction.
Except for the structure, there is little that reminds you of WTF at Loca Loca. The walls are a riot of colours – even an orange room for private gatherings — complete with portraits of life in Cuba, the fedora rack and the quintessential 1956 Corvette. The seating is typical Godfather style – high stools and tables with curved, comfortable leather sofas marking the wall and typical low lighting that throws an air of mystery on everything. The music is quintessential Cuban—so you can jive, sway, even do the tango on the bar stool.
But is the food well matched for this carefully created, addictive ambience? To a large extend, even if most of the dishes are the chef’s own interpretation of the authentic cuisine and a mix of comfort foods like the wraps, burgers, steak and pot roast beef. Like the BBQ Beef Burger fondly reminds you of the traditional Frita (Cuban Frita are burgers are made with a mixture of ground beef and pork and use smoked Spanish paprika to give it a unique and delightful flavor. The inclusion of cold cuts is what makes it very interesting) with its beef patty and gherkin combination. The spicy, succulent Caliente Chicken Wings(180) with a layer of skin on for extra juiciness – and a personal favourite – is perfect for a session of beer guzzling. The Loca Cuscurro (traditional farsan served in butter paper with a dash of lime and crushed nachos … It’s our very chakna, just spicy) is an interesting twist to the bhel with a dash of lime and nachos added for the Mexican effect.
The Creole Chicken Skewers (180), a rummy starter these days, miss the succulence of the Chicken Wings or the tangy flavours of the Red Hot Chicken Peppers (180) – a spirited brother of the famous Chilli Chicken. A try-worthy dish is the Shrimp Fritobit (180). Crispy on the outside and juicy inside, it makes for a perfect drink accompaniment, and as pointed by my well-versed guest, is truly Cuban – much like the Cigars that are presented on request. The Cauli Fritobit (150), a recommendation by the way, was flavor fully Oriental – though it could do with a little less sauce. The other disappointment is the BBQ Beef Burger. A classic case of perfect localization of the dish, it could be better with a juicier beef patty and cold cut for texture. The mini buns – six in a platter – are dry.
As for the drinks, there are quite a few interesting, ‘could be made at home’ variations along with the regulars. Our favourite is the Vodka Fresh Grape Sangria (325). A Bacardi-based cocktail, it’s good for those who want something refreshing and easy on the platter. The Miami Mojito (290) served later is nothing much to write about.
For a bar, Loca Loca is surprisingly low on new drinks – but as a watering hole it has all the makings of letting your Monday end with a blast. The snacks are well portioned and known, prices are low and dishes familiar. Where Loca Loca scores is presenting all of this with the oomph of a Cuban goddess.
Food: 2.5/5 | Ambience: 3.0/5 | Service: 2.5/5 | Overall: 2.5/5
Meal for two: Rs. 1800 | Alcohol: Ofcourse | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12.00-11.30pm
Address: Shop No. 8, Ground Floor, Vora Building, 3rd Road, Khar West, Mumbai | Phone: 9833243071, 9769725566
Alert: This is a preopening review and service, food and prices are subject to change.
– Madhulika Dash