My inquisitiveness for Monkey Bar started even before it hit Delhi. A popular gastro-pub in Bangalore, our reviewer in Bangalore, Aparna, came back with a rating of 4.5/5 for the breakfast menu after a string of low ranking reviews from her. Even our Mumbai reviewer, Suprio Bose, was very appreciative of Monkey Bar post a personal visit with his team at Bangalore. Both he and our erstwhile Delhi reviewer who visited Bangalore agreed with a rating of 4.0/5 which is a pretty good and consistent rating for a pub which normally lacks on quality food. And unsurprisingly I was eagerly awaiting its launch in Delhi.
After all how different a pub could be? Few good cocktails, nice music and finger food! Expecting anything more is like setting up for a disappointment. The building that hosts Monkey bar in Delhi is a modern, off beat glass pyramid shaped one and it filtered sunlight during the winter lunch which was comforting. My apprehension on maintaining the cool temperature in hot Delhi summers were put to rest by the executive chef and entrepreneur, Manu Chandra, who boasted of using advanced air-conditioning to control temperature at 22 degrees. The over 100-seater restaurant is well spaced over two levels and houses a pool table besides a non pretentious but comfortable furniture and interesting artifacts.
Coming on to the drinks, The Maanga, a concoction of vodka and aam panna is not only refreshing but innovative too. No wonder it is the most selling drink at the Monkey Bar. Naarangi as the name suggests is a whisky based orange juice cocktail which is as interesting but I had to kill the sweetness on my palette with a dash of tabasco from the bottle kept at every table.
The menu at Monkey Bar is something that impresses the most. A mix of Goan Sorpotel, Coorgi Pandi curry, Mumbai’s Dabeli, Parsi berry pulao, Ethipian Doro wat and many more regional delights are never seen before in a pub, and it definitely fits in the gastro-pub category. Most of the food is non-fussy, quickly delivered and improvised to please the majority’s taste buds. Spiked Nachos (290) is a big heap of Nachos with guacamole and sour cream topped with bbq chicken, onion, tomato and spring onions; a sinful delight. Am still to have better slow braised bbq pork ribs which delightfully manage the sweet-sour balance and at Rs230 a plate, it is a steal and surely a must-have on every visit. Chilly bheja fry (240) is another of the outstanding starters to order at the Monkey bar.
Juliennes of galangal and red peppers take the taste of slices of beef fillet to the next level in Tiger Beef (240). And this beef for once does not taste like buff, if you get my point. For vegetarians flutterfly (paneer & cheese cube done in a crisp shell) that resembles a butterfly is a great option. Being a hardcore non-vegetarian most of the dishes that I ordered are unsurprisingly, non-vegetarian.
The pork in the Pandi curry (400) is slightly overdone however retains all the flavors. The accompanying grilled pita bread is an innovative addition. Chef Manu Chandra tells me an interesting story behind The Parsee Orderlies Mutton Curry; when the monthly ingredients that an army can order was rationed and most of the stuff someone would get will depend upon the availability of stocks. The orderlies had a difficult job to make use of the available ingredients and turn out a dish from it and this dish came in when butter supplies were limited and cheese was freely available. The mutton is cooked to perfection but cheese cuts on spices and they are mellow compared to the other dishes.
The best burger at the Monkey Bar, as they claim, is Mobar Burger with 300gms beef patty, cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce etc, but given all that I had already eaten much and still had greed to try something more, I order cheese & beef burger (340) which has a 200gm beef patty. Small mercy that at times I have on myself :). A big slightly toasted bun with beef cooked to medium rare as per my liking and perfectly seasoned would speak very high of this new outlet in Delhi if the mayonnaise were to be a little less. The juicy burger patty and extra mayonnaise makes it a little soggy before the entire burger is over. A small glitch in an otherwise great meal!
The Mobar sundae sandwich (200)- layers of cake, icecream, jello, nutella, nuts, cream & tutti fruity and Chocolate Pot de Crème with salted caramel (220) makes the Monkey Bar quickly redeems itself. These are the desserts that are made so well that they can be served in any fine dine restaurant with three times the price and guest would still be happy to have them.
The Monkey Bar is a one of its kind gastropub in Delhi that does not only serves good drinks but great food too. Service is quick and smiling. The menu is extensive and one visit is not enough. I went at a non peak hour and Chef Manu Chandra challenged me to come back and try the service at peak hours and his team will ensure that orders starts getting delivered in less than 10minutes. This is exactly what I want – a quick drink and something to nibble. If someone can offer happy, gourmet meal like this at such realistic prices, it will undoubtedly not only be my regular watering hole but my casual dine out place too.
Ratings (out of 5):
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 1500+ without alcohol | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12 Noon – 12 Midnight | Special Note: Children (below 18) are permitted till 6pm only
Address: The Monkey Bar, Plot No.11, C6 & C7 Commercial Complex, Next to Nanking & Barbeque Nation, Adjacent to Kotak Mahindra Bank & Mini Cooper Showroom, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi | Telephone: 011-41095155