Monkey Bar has been on our must-go list ever since we moved back to Bangalore. We’ve heard and read so much about Chef Manu Chandra, the quirky Monkey Bar ambiance, the superb food, and of course the cocktails. So, it is safe to say that we were pretty kicked about being invited to check out their new restaurant in Indiranagar, Bangalore.
First impressions..the decor looked warm and interesting but not overly cluttered. Small and large knick knacks were scattered around, the odd carved wooden frame sharing space with rustic chalk boards, wacky posters and framed pop art, scooters and liberal doses of the trademark monkey accents. The seating was casual, a few booths and the bar at the ground floor and more seating in the mezzanine floor that also houses pool and foosball tables for those inclined towards a slightly more active rendezvous with friends.
We started off sampling a couple of the cocktails. Wild Leaf with vodka, lime leaves, passion fruit and orange was pleasingly citrusy and refreshing. The Ginger Rogers in the cute ceramic cup with gin, ginger ale and peach juice in it had the expected kick from the ginger and a nice background fruitiness.
There’s no dearth of conversation starters at Monkey Bar; every wall, window and niche has something to remark on, and your table top is no exception. Blair’s Sudden Death Sauce was what we chatted about while waiting for the food to arrive. This of course led to the sweetish sauce served with the first appetizers being kicked up with a healthy dollop of the aptly titled Death Sauce and the results were really not pretty to watch. This sauce comes with a skull and crossbones on the label and several well-deserved warnings. It should ideally be served out with a tiny medicine dropper!
There’s really nothing that one can gripe about when handed a plate of hot and crisp fried dumplings. The Crab Rangoon, with real crab meat and cream cheese are an American-Chinese classic, with the volume turned up by the chef. The brown and crunchy edges, the gooey, melted cream cheese and a nice, sweet crab flavour inside all combine to make this dish a real winner.
We ate a lot of the mild and slightly sweetish Thai-style deviled fish since it was one of the first dishes served, and we were ravenous at that point. The Tempura Calamari that came next was great for slow snacking, the fried calamari tossed in a dry mixture of green curry, wasabi and plenty of green onions.
We loved the Sloppy Joe! The shredded pork had been mixed with just the right amount of (not too sweet) barbecue sauce and served with crunchy coleslaw and a pickle on the side. A paper cone of sweet potato crisps completed this delightful platter.
Another sandwich that we tried was the Goan Chorizo Pao, this had a vinegary and garlicky filling. The Polish-style Pierogis (pan-fried dumplings) served with sour cream come with a choice of chicken, chilli cheese or pork sausage fillings and reminded us of the popular Mom and Pop Pierogi joints in Chicago strip-malls that we used to frequent.
If you can’t rise from the table without partaking of a rice dish, there is a very hearty Parsee Orderlies’ Mutton curry served with savoury rice and finished with a sprinkling of cheese (Amul?)! The Berry Pulao – an Iranian-style pulav with chunks of chicken and a generous measure of nicely caramelised onions is perfectly cooked and very tasty.
We also tried the Pork Belly sliders that were not overly fatty and come in share-able mini portions, but if you’re going for a pork dish then the Sloppy Joes mentioned earlier would get our vote.
The desserts featured two of our favourite flavour combinations – chocolate with caramel and lemon with strawberry. Both the sweet plates were quite delectable. We’d love to carry a bucket of the Monkey Bar caramel popcorn to our next movie date! The Chocolate Pot de Creme that it was served atop was chocolaty, lush and very satisfying. The slices of a slightly dry cake served with this dessert seemed unnecessary though, and didn’t really stand up to the bold chocolate-caramel flavours and the textures of the dish.
The Lemon Cake is a lemon lovers delight and has several components that help amp up its no-holds-barred tartness. It is served with a scoop of ice cream and sliced strawberries (and again, a couple of lady finger cookies that were really not needed on that beautiful plate).
Yes, Monkey Bar at Indiranagar gets our thumbs up, it is a pretty cool place to spend an evening with friends and linger over the cocktails, small plates and big flavours.
Accepts Cards: Yes