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Coolest watering holes and restaurants to spend your weekend at


In Japanese, the word omotenashi means ‘to host someone with your heart’. The brainchild of Romil Ratra, Deepti Dadlani and Chef Paul Kinny, a new Asian restaurant that stands perkily within a booming foodscape, is also one that stays true to this notion of hospitality.

Creating an intriguing flavour amalgam of history, art and travel, it is the offbeat cuisine from lesser-known locales like Burma, Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand that holds the menu together. Alongside 21 varieties of dim sum, maki rolls and dragon shrimp, the cocktails reference iconic Asian streets and culture. Mugi Ichi Shochu, a refreshing Japanese national beverage, is best enjoyed with the Thai and Malay-inspired massaman curry. The traditional ‘shophouse’-style eatery also harbours an apothecary that serves whiskey, vodka, tequila and gin mixed with fruits, herbs, and secret spices.

Drink up Order the hattori hanzo, dedicated to the famed Japanese samurai, purely for its theatrical presentation. The drink is first served with butterfly pea flower tea and lime. As the tequila is added, it transitions from a deep indigo to an upbeat purple, and is meant to symbolise Hanzo’s transformation from a samurai to a monk. Piss alley cat, named after the infamous street in Tokyo, is a spicy drink infused with green chilli, apple juice and Jim Beam.

Dreamy design The abacus-inspired staircase, expressionist-style paintings of cherry blossoms and chrysanthemums, and faded maps are reminiscent of authentic Asian decor.

Next: Swey

Gazebos, cabanas, pergolas and swings make up this 14,000 square-foot snazzy rooftop destination designed by Arrshie Singh, at the Atria building in Worli. The laidback yet buzzing atmosphere, similar to Kino Hospitality’s other ventures Copa and Dishkiyaoon, is perfect for soaking in the panoramic sea view and relaxing music.

What sets the menu apart is the focus on artisanal ingredients, fresh raw produce and locally-sourced ingredients comprising cheeses, seasonal honey, sun-dried spice mixes and infused Himalayan salts, lending a distinctive quality to every creation. Munch on zucchini fries, fully loaded nachos, edamame hummus, wasabi and soy cashews and Sri Lankan spiced almonds at the bar. And for a wholesome meal, don’t miss the salmon, ricotta and pickled red onion pizza, lamb rack, whole lobster, spiced ‘bottle masala’ fish and chips and the zucchini and ricotta homemade cannelloni.

Drink up If you want more than just the classic cocktails, go straight for the kale and hearty (vodka, spinach, kale, ginger, sweet and sour mix), an apple a day (vodka and homemade apple jam), Annabelle (gin, lemon, pomegranate, stevia) or the drunken garden (chamomile tea, smoked whiskey, egg white, lime).

Sneaky details For those of us who need to multitask spirited relaxation with enquiring calls from work or family, Swey is equipped with a soundproof phone booth!

Next: Theory

With the multitude of gastronomy ventures popping up in Lower Parel, the thought of visiting another one may sound daunting, but don’t miss this one. The space draws you in with its elegant vibe, modern all-black interiors and a 100-foot-long, coal-pressed island bar. Staying true to the adage ‘good things come in small packages’, the restaurant does it right with a hearty concoction of compact dishes. Choose from an array of highly recommended carpaccios or relish the delectable tuna tartare served on a bed of silky guacamole.

Drink up Signature cocktails include the hickory bong, made with tomato water and whiskey, and the Asian mojito, a vermouth and gin-based concoction that delicately incorporates the flavours of coconut, basil, star anise and passion fruit.

Savoury indulgence A perfect main course, the tender duck confit is presented on a crispy waffle and complemented by a poached egg, duck jus and maple syrup. The Belgian pork belly melts in the mouth and the yam gnocchi with crispy kale come tossed in a sweet balsamic dressing with toasted sesame and beurre noisette.

Next: Versova Social

Marking the eighth in Mumbai and 16th pan-India outpost of Riyaaz Amlani’s Social brand that has quickly and surely established a stronghold over the country’s nightlife, this sprawling three-story property is the talk of the town. Designed to resemble a Victorian greenhouse, it features mangrove vines on a raw structure, lush courtyards on multiple levels and a number of corners that reflect varying moods. Walk up the trippy staircase – the walls of which have a print that spells out ‘aa’ in Hindi to welcome you and ‘jaa’ when you walk back down to leave – and a classy space greets you replete with cozy upholstery, grand armchairs, chandeliers, wooden decor, wall micro gardens and a large bar. If the open-air cafe area on the same floor is full, one can head further upstairs to the terrace, which has its own bar.

As always, the large food menu is reliable, quirky and authentic, featuring regular favourites like gunpowder calamari and Black Label butter chicken alongside new dishes like the killer kebab plate, basil and thyme paneer tikka and Jose’s jalapeno chicken tikka.

Drink up Embrace the happy-go-lucky vibes with the tadi colada and tropical mojito or let your taste buds tingle with the Shimla mirch martini, aacharoska, coke and cane, and the striking cosmo explosion. Also on offer here are the brand-new Social house wines, of which the red is our favourite.

Quirk fest If you like unique decor as much as we do, go crazy at the ‘Social maal ki dukaan’ on the ground floor and pick up the brand’s trademark thandi beer glass set, davaa daaru shot bottles or the cutting chai set.

Next: 145 Bandra

Sitting pretty in the city’s party neighbourhood, the suburban outpost of one of Kala Ghoda’s favourite haunts is an ode to the rich colonial history, quaint by-lanes and kitschy personality of Bandra. Designed by Busride and Patch Design, both known for their innovative approaches and playful aesthetic, the restaurant flaunts elements like stained-glass windows, terracotta tiles, jaali work and vintage flooring that allow it to stay true to the old bungalow it calls home. The best time to visit may possibly be at brunch, but that’s only because we love pairing a stellar breakfast spread with uber-cool cocktails.

The absolute star of the food menu, hands down, is the special dish exclusive to this outlet: pork sorpotel. Order that with the beef vindaloo and honey Sriracha chicken wings and you’ll be on a one-way trip to carnivore paradise. Vegetarians, don’t sweat, a host of delicious dishes like the spaghetti yolo (aglio olio tossed with chilli, garlic, herbs and cheese), spinach artichoke fondue, mushroom bunny chow and magic masala potato skins await you, while seafood enthusiasts can binge on Goan prawn curry and delectable steamed fish.

Drink up Don’t miss the yard cocktails – our favourite is the longest brew which combines vodka and tequila with watermelon, pineapple, ginger ale and beer. Add some excitement to your meal with the smokey chicken cocktail, aam aadmi panna and the jalapeno-driven drink, hot green pep. And if you’re dining in a group, you can’t go wrong with the sharing bowls.

Calorie carefree Located near a popular gym in the fitness-conscious suburb, the restobar offers a health menu smattered with avocado, egg white, grilled chicken and quinoa creations.

Next: Sambar

Replacing Loca Loca in Khar comes the quirky cool South Indian restro-bar, SamBar, which is Mumbai’s first as they say. Kick started by Pragnesh Rai – a South Indian himself – at the end of 2016, the bar is the perfect place to grab a drink after a long day’s work.

Step into SamBar to be struck by its eminent quirky decor. From vibrant hand-painted murals of Sam Anna – the fictitious South Indian party animal, to the lungi clad waiters that roam the halls…the place expresses eccentricity at its best. But don’t let the funky vibe deceive you into thinking that it doesn’t take its food seriously. The restro-bar serves a diverse menu, teleporting you straight to its Keralan shores and Mangalorean homes. Start off with the chicken sukkha supplemented with an appam, malabari parantha or the crispy kori churuttu. Also try the kori roti and the meen pollichuttu which is fish wrapped in a banana leaf.

While this may be Pragnesh’s first full-fledged venture, the owner is keeping the buzz going, with its special nights. Expect Rajnikanth happy hours, South Indian movie nights and outdoor music sessions.

Drink up Try the rasam mary which is their take on the bloody mary. The filter coffee here becomes capi madras, the classic martini gets a punch as the curry martini and your favourite pina colada defaced as the anna colada. Whatever you may choose, make sure you end the night with a payasam shot!

Next: Rooftop at Raasta

Although Raasta Bombay launched seven months ago, the Bob Marley and Jamaica-inspired pub has already garnered a very loyal customer base and quality reputation. It made sense, then, that it recently launched one more level to add to the existing two. The open-air extension is fully equipped with its own bar and a smoky barbeque station which offers up exciting meals like the rum chica rum chicken, drunken pepper king prawns, campfire potatoes and grilled tofu skewers in Sriracha sauce. Coolers and fans keep the rooftop pleasant at all times, and the lighting provides the perfect ambience to sip on exclusive ‘bongtails’.

Source: Verve Magazine

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