The minute I enter Monkey Bar, the song “Number Sixty Four, house with a bamboo door, bamboo roofs and a bamboo floor …..” plays in my mind. I love wooden floors and to step out from the elevator on to one where I went clickety click put a smile on my face.
Connaught Place – the heart of Delhi, a shopper’s Mecca and with a huge variety of eateries from the dhabas to fine dining restaurant – is just the right place for Monkey Bar to open up. The place has its own energy and interiors which kind of relaxes you and puts you at ease. They do not have reservations so make sure you hit the place early to get a seat. In case you have to wait, you could go to the first floor to play foosball or pool. But do wait because the food they are serving is not only well worth it but also easy on the pocket.
The food at Monkey Bar is about traditional recipes with contemporary innovations, quirky names for dishes (which sometimes put a smile to your face) and their own arty twist in serving them. The menu is called a tale of three cities as it has an amalgamated menu from Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
What I absolutely loved about the food was that in spite of having dishes in the menu from different states of India, they retained the soul of the cuisine represented. For eg., the Laal Maas from Rajasthan, thankfully, was spicy and not toned down. I hate it when a cuisine is totally changed to suit the taste of its customers and is passed off by some places as authentic. I would like to add that Monkey Bar is not claiming to sell authentic dishes here but doing an excellent job nonetheless.
I started with a popular Sindhi breakfast dish called Dal Pakwan (which is dal served with a crispy, fried chapatti sized pakwan, topped with sweet and tamarind chutney and chopped onions). Here they serve it in small, bite sized pakwans. It is as simple as it is tasty. I don’t think very many places would be serving this recipe.
Mochar Chop, a popular Bengali snack (mocha is the banana blossom), which is also stuffed with carrot and bean chops, is crumb fried and topped with crispy lotus stem and mint and accompanied with sour cream and mint chutney. These fried oblong beauties, topped with chutney and sour cream were an absolute treat to the taste buds.
Paneer 65, a snack from Chennai (they have a Chicken 65 too for the non-vegetarians) attributes its red colour to the red chilies used in the marinade. What came on the serving dish were steaming soft idlis, a sweet coconut chutney and paneer tossed in mildly spiced, red thick gravy. This was a perfect pairing and I simply loved it.
Chicken Chimichuri were chicken satay sticks lathered with the tastiest chimichuri marinade which was also served on the side along with a salad. I could have this amazing marinade of parsley, coriander, garlic, chili, vinegar and olive oil just by itself.
Laal Maas Phulka Tacos were red chili and spiced braised lamb with mirch achaar, topped with ker-sengri sabzi, onion and white raddish slaw and garlic and coriander chutney and served inside a soft phulka taco. It totally tantalizes the taste buds and I loved the spicy pulled lamb.
Peppered Calamari – there is nothing better than fresh sea food. The calamari served was not only fresh but had a perfectly balanced batter with fresh grated pepper. Any sea food over cooked is as good as killing it. But this was softer than what I would have had in any coastal place.
Mrs. Yvonne Pinto’s Masala Prawn Pickle was another amazing dish that left my palate asking for more. Served in a miniature martban (special jar to store pickles), these small prawns were in a spicy, tangy thick gravy served with pao. If you have been to Goa and love Goan cuisine, you cannot but love these prawns.
Caramelised Pork Chops were slow cooked, pan caramelised pork ribs in a lovely sweet sauce with enough tanginess to take the edge off the sweetness. I absolutely loved these juicy ribs with meat falling off the bones and licked the plate clean of all the sauce.
Berry Pulao – chicken meatballs, pulled chicken, Iranian berry pulao with saffron, fried onion and potato salli. This was simply a marriage made in heaven – spicy, pulled chicken balanced with the sweet berries, contrasting textures of the soft rice with crispy onion and potato salli. I would have loved to finish off the dish but I was too full by then.
Butter Chicken Khichari is moong dal khichari with boneless butter chicken folded in and served with ghee, papad, dahi, salad and achaar. This was probably the only dish that didn’t do anything for my palate.
Don’t miss the awesome dessert here with Nutella. It was yum!
An honest confession – I had a hard time writing this review because I was drooling and reliving my experience. I would like to mention that they need to have small serving spoons, for the accompanying sauces. But other than that they have a lovely extensive menu which I want to go back and try as soon as possible.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.5 | Drinks: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0| Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs. 1800 (Without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 12pm – 12am | Wheel Chair Friendly: No
Address: Monkey Bar, 3, Connaught Circus, Connaught Lane, Barakhamba, New Delhi| Telephone: 011 41500170
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.