Bar Review: Three Wise Men

April 2, 2012 8:35 am by

Bollywood filmmakers are often quoted as saying that critics don’t matter because it’s the ticket buying public that determines a movie’s success. After spending a few minutes at new Santa Cruz pub Three Wise Men, we wondered whether bar owners feel the same way about reviews of their establishment. At 10.30pm this past Saturday, the place was so packed that we could only jostle out some space at the bar.

Two weekends in, and Three Wise Men looks like a hit, albeit as far as nightlife successes in this city go, it’s a fairly formulaic bar. From the interiors—brick wall, laminated bar posters of alcohol logos, flat TVs screening ESPN—to the playlist—retro pop (ABBA), retro rock (Guns N’ Roses), retro hip hop (Salt N’ Peppa) and a category we shall call retro one-hit-wonders (everything from “Tarzan Boy” to “Here Comes The Hotstepper”)—is stuff we’ve seen and heard before. The only distinctive decorative element are gold framed modern art paintings on the ceiling that only ugly-fy an otherwise inoffensive space. Think of them as the item number that flopped, but which makes little difference to the script anyway.

To paraphrase our companion, perhaps Three Wise Men has got off to such a great start because they serve old wine to a new audience. Equidistant from both Bandra and Andheri, Three Wise Men offers people living in and around those suburbs an opportunity to get the same experience they could get at Hawaiian Shack or Firangi Paani but in a new location. Then again, though Three Wise Men is situated in Santa Cruz, its proprietors—Nishant Joshi, Atul Chopra, Pratik Parekh are the three wise men in question who in turn named it after the whisky shot—would like you to believe you’re in London. Posters of Big Ben and Trafalgar Square hang in the passage between the outer and inner doors, and the Union Jack hangs near the loo.

The food menu only offers two soups, four salads and veg and non-veg bar snacks (about a dozen of each variety), even though Three Wise Men calls itself a “resto bar”. There is no bangers n’ mash but there are appetisers from around the world, from chicken wings to chicken satay to veg tempura and mini falafel rolls. The drinks menu is less imaginative, with no in-house cocktails and a listing of just one unspecified wine (offered by the glass and bottle). The sangria (Rs395), made, according to the menu, with a secret ingredient, was too warm, while the mojito (Rs395) was too sweet. A quick scan of the room showed us that most people were sipping rum and Cokes or pints (Rs165 for Kingfisher, Rs350 for imported brands such as Stella and Schneider Weisse), implying that Three Wise Men is not a cocktail kind of place anyway. It’s also the sort of pub where you should be prepared to wait.

Our dry baked potato skins (Rs150) arrived half way through our drinks while we were told that they had run out of chicken quesadillas half-and-hour after we had placed the order (though they still charged us for it on the bill). The fish and chips (Rs325) turned out to be fish fingers and chips, but we didn’t mind because the crispy crumb-fried fingers came with some well-made tartar sauce. Moreover, they arrived within ten minutes. The fact that we had to yell every order over the crowd indicates that the mid-priced Three Wise Men may have already become a “local” for Santa Cruz residents—people like the group next to us, who sang along when Nickelback came on, and danced to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. If that sounds like your idea of the perfect weekend out, you now know where to head if there’s no room at Hawaiian Shack.

This review was conducted anonymously.