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15.11.2016

Dear Bandra East resident, this review comes to you from across Mumbai’s most unbridgeable divide. Here is a resident of the western suburbs who can count the number of times they’ve come east. We’re the ones who complain that nothing is worse than Kurla traffic (...true, though) and think of BKC as the place you go to get a divorce.  

Make Kalanagar Great Again 

As you know, our tasteful gloating over Bandra West’s glittery implosion has always concealed a mild wistfulness for the East, where the rents are lower, the cricket is better and the Gomantak restaurants surpass most things on our food scene.

Our gloating over Bandra West’s glittery implosion has always concealed a mild wistfulness for the East, where the rents are lower, the cricket is better and the Gomantak restaurants surpass most things on our food scene.

But the die is cast this week: something from our side of town has crossed over to yours. It’s a new gastro-pub. Before your vision clouds over with the spectre of traffic violations and noise pollution hell, breathe. This isn’t BKC-spillover, and there's not a single Edison bulb or exposed air-chute in sight. Instead, the week-old Craftbar reminds us of the old-fashioned term they used to describe drawing rooms: it’s well-appointed. Everything is set to medium brightness, at medium height and medium volume. 

The music is what a Channel [V] hour on Radio Nasha would sound like (Shaggy meets Maxi Priest); the dessert menu offers a mash-up of chocolate brownie with gajar halwa - coma-inducingly rich - and candy phirni; and the service is unremittingly sweet, perhaps because we’re the only ones in the bar thanks to the #CashCrunch. 

In Da (MIG) Club 

If you know all the words to ‘It Wasn’t Me’ you’re also the sort of person who probably won’t mind that the cocktails are given names such as ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’ and ‘Silencer.’ The first is an icy chuski in a gingery gin mix, flawed only by a shade too much syrup. The latter, alas, is an acidic concoction in a mason jar with a slice of pineapple to go with it. ‘Match Fixing’ is an experiment infusing whiskey with lime and mint, surprisingly great: the burn of alcohol gradually reaches your nerves after a shock of icy citrus. ‘Power Play’ puts runs on the scoreboard with its scratchy warmth. 

Much of this is uncomplicated fun, unlikely to attract the barbarian hordes from across the tracks to raid your backyard. Unfortunately, the food may be a reason for you, too, to consider your options carefully. We like Oriya mutton curry: fiery-smooth, served with dark, flat bhakri that’s lifeless in comparison. Gujarati-style ‘sev tomato’ curry is like eating baingan bharta without the baingan. 

Much of this is uncomplicated fun, unlikely to attract the barbarian hordes from across the tracks to raid your backyard.

A playful tray of solkadhi shots balanced with prawn golgappa brings us some classic local solkadhi -- Bombay, why don’t we drink this with every meal? - but the golgappa’s filling is actually dried shrimp flakes, which any local cook would remind you is far too salty for a large mouthful. However, none of this is as much of a jolt as a dish of kasundi chicken legs, crispy and well-flavoured until you cut through to find blood on the bone. 

We leave this bird on the wire and suggest you do too. A ludicrously named cocktail and some Britney on the boombox might be just the sort of thing yuppies like us want on some nights. In this hard-to-please part of town, however, Craftbar is best considered pre-gaming for Sadichcha, and will do until the food improves. 

Getting there: Craftbar, Hallmark Plaza, Guru Nanak Hospital Road, Bandra (East), a meal for two with two rounds of drinks costs approximately Rs 3,500.

Accessibility: No ramp access to entry or washrooms. The dining area is spacious and staff very helpful. 

We were recognised by the Craftbar team, but bpb paid the bill for this meal.

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