Two Thousand Sixteen has seen restaurants move to minimal bright décor and recycling old material to create a grunge ambiance inside chic white-wash painted walls or industrial style exposed brickwork. Not everyone has conformed to this trend, clearly not Massive Restaurants who have moved to a more modern red and white pixelated décor at Papaya and now their newest Bandra baby 'MasalaBar' that believes in reviving the eighties Feroz Khan's Qurbani disco vibe with stained mirrors and mix-matching it with Dumbledore's room of candles and sorcery, sorcery of potent spirits served with grandiose. Masala Bar is every bit in your face, right from the presentation of its drinks in an almost laboratory like avatar to the plates of food that are so intentionally complex and yet will be a blink-n-miss in the relatively dark atmosphere.
There is an outright import of its all-Delhi team and their attempt to explain a regular Mumbaikar about Bandstand, Chowpatty, Sasoon Dock or Malabar Hill and how the drinks associate to each of these landmarks comes across as too much of a cliché. However the drinks on a technical level are a thing of artistry as you find out that the Black Label in your cocktail is colourless or there is a burst of Curry Leaves without the actual leaves in your glass; which all happens in the small apparatus and centrifuge equipment at the end of the bar. The naming definitely won't help you decide your drink. They go from 'An Evening at Chowpatty' to 'Mumbai Matinee' to 'The Great Hornby’s Cloud' except one, the vodka based basil smoke infused legitimate version of a Bhaang - 'Bollywood Bhaang' served in a skull shaped crystalware with a leafy knot to it's forehead. 'Sunset at Carter' which is a Whiskey based cocktail paired with orange, rosemary and topped with almond foam comes across as well-layered drink similar to their 'Malabar Point'-a vodka and chamomile concoction layered with thyme foam. There is a lot on offer here, many infusions, some work some don't; like the 'Filter Kaafi-Uska' that relies a lot on theatrical of a portable mini-garden and burnt cinnamon exhalation.
Being a bar-place from the house of Massive and having a prefix of Masala in its name means there are equally high expectation of a rekindled romance of Indian-fusion types. Well, they had to have that and Yes! they do have that; yet again fancy and playful food, which seems to get lost in the candlelight ambiance of the place. You can start yourself off with a stereotypical 'Chakna' which is now tempura batter fried chana and garlic or a plate of a more upmarket 'Truffle Fries'. What stuck out like a fine appetiser from the entire array that was served to us were three plates: First, the buttery Bheja Tawa Fry on a crostini; Second, the Pan Tossed Shrooms that were served on Khari and third, the squid-ink prepared gothic version of Pav-bhaji (also prepared in charcoal dust for vegetarians) and labelled as 'Carbon Bhaji'. Some mention also has to go to the Ponzu-chilli dip that came along the Calamari Rings and the crispy Prawns that sat inside the sliders. Seared Scallops, Chicken 65 lollipops and Masala Paneer Bhurji were the other plates that did come to the table, but nothing remarkable with them. That Bheja on a crostini was a hit, surely would be the first order on a second visit along with a side of those crunchy fries.
Ultimately your pre-conceived notion may just be right, it's a place to watch the Bandra sunset by sea or take a table in the dark, order your favourite cocktail, see them arrive like a Gisele Bundchen on a runway, Instagram that moment, order suitable grub and have a good time with your pals. Don't forget that fluffy wallet of yours, it's 'Bandra' after all and it's 'Massive' after all.
This visit was made possible by the PR agency at Massive Restaurants and Ms. Renu Ubale slash @eaternityandbeyond
Location : MasalaBar, Level 1, Gagangiri Apartments, Carter Road, Bandra West