Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mocha Bar

Shop 8-9, Ground Floor, Satyam Cineplexes District Centre, Nehru Place, Delhi
011 2646 6733

Australian country singer Slim Dusty famously sang about A Pub With No Beer, the tune most likely to send shivers of horror up the spines of all red blooded, thirsty Australian men within earshot.

Mocha Bar might have had classic rock on the muzak, but it might as well have been Slim Dusty; as for a bar that appears pitched squarely at Delhi’s drinking, sport loving, classic rock crooning thirty something male, there was a major dearth of beer.

Mocha Bar is part of the highly successful Cafe Mocha chain - although for some reason isn't represented on its website - and has been open a full year.  It offers two categories of beer: priced at 110 rupees a pint are Carlsberg, Tuborg, Budweiser, Tiger and Kingfisher. This particular night, none were available but Budweiser and Kingfisher, but the latter hadn’t been chilled, so we were forced to get a beer off the more expensive list. 

That was my first complaint. The second came hot on the heels of the beer debacle. On the menu are ‘poutines’, a French-Canadian dish that’s essentially hot chips smeared with cheese and topped with gravy, kind of like nachos but without the healthful qualities. On an earlier visit I’d passed up the poutine but I was deeply hankering for it this time; unfortunately what appeared was a bowl of chips and a bowl of gravy. The manager blamed a “printing error” on the menu and assured us the menu was being reprinted. A bowl of chips? That’s not what Wikipedia says it is.

Complaint number three: draw the freakin curtains! For all of Mocha Bar’s dark atmospheric nature inside, it’s situated inside a kind of shopping centre, so right outside each of the many windows is strip lighting, security guards and random people on their way to Sbarro. Way too much reality for a Saturday night.

Now to the good bits, of which there are many. Did I mention the decor? It’s like being in a teenage girl’s bedroom, but in teenage boy colours. There are comfy velvet sofas, a bright blue neon lit bar, painted baroque-esque chandeliers, and brick walls. There are big TV screens showing sport. The seating configuration is extremely well-thought through (not something I ever thought I’d mention as a plus, but such a rarity in India). Seats are comfortable, the music is loud enough to create a vibe but not so loud that it’s an ear-splitting audial inferno. The cocktails, of which there are many, are inspired - fruity and delicious. The food - even the misrepresented chips and gravy - is tasty.

The menu, in fact, is really very good. It is split into bar snacks such as spinach fritters, paninis, burgers, ‘something substantial’ and one-pot meals. Just the thing to soak up that expensive Becks (grrr). On a previous visit I had the mushroom linguini and it was great, but this time we both wanted something meatier. The OMG burger is a shallow-fried, thin patty of chicken or lamb, on a choice of ciabatta or multigrain, with salad and sauce, plus a side of fries, gherkins and coleslaw. The Juicy Lucy burger, with the same sides and again a choice of lamb or chicken, is a dollop of tender, pulled meat in a smoky-sweet sauce. 

The burgers were both delicious, however the bread turned out to be way too delicate to deal with the meat, and fell apart quickly. The meals were served imaginatively on a wide rectangular wooden board, the fries in a separate little tin can. 

Alongside, I sampled two cocktails: a peach margarita (juicy bits of peach down the bottom, only half the rim dipped in salt - a thoughtful touch for female drinkers) and a Ya Maan, which contained fresh apple, Bacardi, creme de cassis, mint and lime. Both cocktails were insanely good - in fact, good enough to counter my poutine misery. 


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