Food/Bar Review: F Bar, Lounge and Diner
This past Saturday night, a friend told us of how a friend of theirs had just been asked to pay a Rs3,000 cover charge at F Bar. Later, while we were waiting for a cab in Lower Parel, a young man who looked like he might still be in college rolled down his car window to ask us for directions to the new restaurant and bar. Fortunately for him, having visited the club only the previous night, we knew that he was heading the wrong way. These were indications that F Bar’s somewhat inaccessible location on the third floor of the One IndiaBulls Centre is not a deterrent for Mumbai’s clubbing crowd who are curious to check out a venue they’ve been anticipating for over 15 months now.
As with most Mumbai establishments that attempt to be both a restaurant and a bar, the latter section often proves more popular than the former (Blue Frog, the now-shuttered Zenzi). At F Bar, despite the enlisting of a chef no less famed than the Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia, the restaurant and lounge shined and suffered in similar areas. The dishes and drinks varied from the good to the average; the service was universally bad, though it should be noted, we did visit on opening night. The two sections, as we earlier reported, share a theatrical black ceiling with wave-patterned orifices. In the restaurant section, halogen bulbs hang from these orifices to provide adequate menu-reading light. No matter which table you sit at in the square-shaped area, you can fix your gaze on the oddly-mesemering images of the FTV channel.
On opening night, we were served a limited three-page food menu (the complete menu, with a number of Mediterranean options, was to be offered from Saturday). From the dishes we tried, Bhatia, who serves innovative pre-plated Indian fare at The Oberoi’s Ziya, seems to have played it safe here with the main courses, limiting his experiments to a handful of the appetisers and desserts. The prawn puchkas—puris stuffed with cous cous, potato cubes, and near-undetectable bits of boiled prawn, and served with shot glasses containing spicy mint flavoured pani—scored on presentation but not on taste. The Goan sausage vol-au-vents had too much flaky pastry and not enough smoked sausage. The bite-sized baked chole kulche, which were topped with pomegranate seeds and a dash of chilled dahi, were flavourful. The peanut butter chicken wings, made with a lip-smacking satay sauce, were the pick of the starters.
The mains had little in terms of innovation or presentation but proved the highlight of our meal. The aloo saag was satisfyingly creamy; the nariyali mirch jhinga a thick, delicious Tom Kha-esque prawn curry; and the cardamom-scented Patiala chicken had just the right balance of spices. Like our starters, the desserts were better on the plate than the palate. The blue curacao, fresh mango and rasmalai lasagna was essentially mango sandwiched between slices of rasmalai with barely any taste of the liqueur. The passable Photo Finish, so named because it is served in a hollowed camera lens container, was made up of coffee-flavoured cracked wheat halwa mixed with chopped almonds and topped with Oreo cookie ice cream.
F Bar offers a selection of standard and fruit-based cocktails, and notably they do a better job of the latter. They were careful enough to ask if we wanted egg white in our whisky sour. The drink, which came sans any froth, lacked the smoothness that characterises a great whisky sour. The mojito was far too sweet for our liking, but the off-menu unnamed berry cocktail, which one of the bartenders stirred up for us, was a near-perfect blend of vodka, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and sour mix. The cucumber and green apple martini was too potent for our tastes but we couldn’t complain because as the menu promised, it was “oozing vodka”.
It wouldn’t be fair to judge the crowd on the basis of the opening night, presuming that it included a number of family and friends who couldn’t make it for the launch party on Thursday. From what we saw, thus far F Bar is attracting a slightly older, corporate set, the kind you might spot at the bar at Tote on the Turf. They were swarming around the lounge and al fresco areas, preferring to tank up on the over-priced drinks (cocktails average Rs600, beer starts at Rs275, both exclusive of tax) than to dance to the bass-heavy beats being played by resident DJ Kris Correya, and his team of popular Mumbai-based DJs such as Amul and Mikhail. F Bar then seems to be drawing the kind of people they’re targeting: big spenders who might come by for a business lunch during the day, and to network at night.
A meal for two with alcohol costs approximately Rs5,500.Tags: bar review, bars, F Bar Lounge and Diner, F Mumbai, F-Bar, Food review, Food reviews, Kris Correya, Nightlife, Rakesh Talwar, Restaurants, Vineet Bhatia
F Bar, Lounge and Diner
LocationOne IndiaBulls Centre
Next to Gold's Gym
Senapati Bapat Marg
HoursDaily, from noon to 1.30am