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04.09.2018

Far from the gothic castle we’d expect a fearsomely gnarled witch to dwell in, Babayaga’s - a modern take on a diner and pub in the heart of Indiranagar - is all neon lights and retro charm. Checkerboard floors lead to luxurious leather booths and a marquee adorning the bar urges us to try a boozy milkshake (we heed our cannibalistic queen immediately, of course).

Named for a mythical Russian witch that devours unsuspecting victims, this villainous crone’s modern Internet avatar had her imparting advice to the lovelorn and being proclaimed as an aspirational figure for women world over. We stan an icon that eats her enemies.

In the Ooru, she’s busy serving up the perfect balance of Archie-comics-fuelled diner nostalgia and our more modern desire to combat the ills of wage slavery by binge drinking at a rooftop bar on a Friday night. Plus, arcade games to drunkenly crow about (we are expert button-smashers ourselves) and indulgent delicacies? Meet us by the malts.

We sip contemplatively on our whiskey infused Cereal Milk milkshake as our companion slurps down their Caramel Monk - salted caramel and apple milkshake spiked with some Old Monk. These concoctions are pleasingly thick and, true to their name, blinding in their booziness.

We reach for stuffed onion orbits, rings stuffed with cheddar and mozzarella, to find them crisp to the bite and perfectly gooey. Tandoori fish fingers don’t disappoint either; tender innards packs a spicy hometown punch. Both are perfect bar foods to soak up the night’s excesses.

At least that’s our excuse as we call for another round of libations - this time a classic Dark and Stormy and a juvenile Fatality Ice Tea, both mixed with a heavy hand. A quick pause for an arcade game or five (we seek a worthy street fighting challenger, noobs) and we return to prawns in a creamy cheese sauce piled into a soft sub roll, and a chicken and leek pot pie.

This is comforting, indulgent food, but not greasy or gluey in its cheesiness. The prawn marine surprises us with a piquant aftertaste that prickles pleasingly on the tongue. We make an addition to our emotional eating food list one bite into the pot pie - tender leeks dominate the flavour, soaking into delicate morsels of chicken, all waiting to be sopped up with a fantastically flaky pastry shell.

We have no room for dessert, really, but soldier on for you dear reader (you’re welcome). A dense chocolate cake that claims to be a family recipe and a fresh fruit pavlova are called for. The cake is comical in size - almost as big as our heads - and its rustic frosting gleams enticingly under the dim lighting. But its dark promise falls short: tasteless except for the sugary frosting, this is not a cake approved by grannies and Bogtrotters. We turn to the pavlova then. Blush pink and topped with kiwis (under ripe to the eye, and as we soon discover, the tongue) and cream whipped with plenty of elbow grease. This delicate confection crumbles beautifully to spongier insides. We can’t stop spooning shards into our mouth.

If we are to be lured into a witch’s lair, this is how to get us, we conclude as we aid Blanca in thulping Ryu to bits: lay a trail of these diner delights and we’ll happily eat our way to being turned into a fairytale swamp creature by a gnarled crone in the woods.

Getting There: 12th Main, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Old timers, Babayaga replaces the old Humming Tree rooftop. A meal for two will set you back around Rs. 2600.

Accessibility: A short flight of stairs and a walk to the lift that will take you up to the third floor.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about food, culture, and discovering your city. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

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