Bar Review: Cafe Marina
The worst thing you could say about Cafe Marina, the two-week-old roof-top bar at the Sea Palace Hotel in Colaba is that it is a me-too establishment. Colaba already has a couple of popular budget-friendly roof-top bars, Cloud 9 in Hotel Godwin off Causeway, and Bay View located atop Hotel Harbour View, which is right next door to the Sea Palace. The proprietors of the hotel have converted their erstwhile Harbour View Terrace Garden banquet space to make way for Cafe Marina.
The prime advantage Cafe Marina boasts over neighbour Bay View is that it’s about three times larger, and offers a more expansive view of the harbour, with the Gateway and the dome of the Taj visible from each of its ten tables. Only two of them were unoccupied when we visited this past weekend, and while some of the customers seemed like hotel guests, a fair number appeared to be walk-ins, possibly lured in by the huge banner placed outside the entrance on the main road. There are thus few chances that Cafe Marina will be a neighbourhood secret like Oceania.
Cafe Marina however could easily pass off as a branch of the Bandra bar. Potted plants line the brown-tiled floor and cream coloured walls. At both places, you get the distinct impression that they could have done more with the decor. Though you can order both food and drinks from Raaga, Sea Palace’s street-side restaurant—which incidentally serves up a “floured marguerita” (their unique way of spelling “flavoured margarita”)—we decided to stick to Cafe Marina’s two-sided, page-long menu.
From the selections of beer (Kingfisher pints are priced Rs190) and five “vegtarian” and five “non-vegtarian” starters, we opted for the three-for-one offer on Budweiser and the staff-recommended chicken kalimiri (Rs315) and the paneer pahadi (Rs240). The slightly-charred, chutney-smeared cubes of paneer were suitably soft and smoky, and the black pepper and coriander-flecked chicken was satisfyingly succulent. However, both the garam masala-spiked tandoori mushrooms (Rs225) and the disappointingly dry mutton seekh kebabs (Rs345) we ordered later proved too spicy for our palate.
The appetisers are barbecued right there on the terrace so they arrived quickly as did our beers. Sea Palace is the old-school kind 0f place where they still serve you peanuts gratis and are happy to replenish the plates even when you’re nursing your first round of drinks. And while the mosaic decorated walls lend Bay View a charm missing at the relatively plain Cafe Marina, unlike the former, the tables at the latter are placed at a fair distance from each other to allow for private conversation (we do wish they get rid of the electronica muzak though). In a muggy city like Mumbai, you can never have too many terrace bars, especially those that get the basics right—good service, decent-enough food, and a great view. Given that Cafe Marina scored three out of three, we intend to return.
This review was conducted anonymously.Tags: bar reviews, bars, Cafe Marina, Nightlife, Sea Palace Hotel
LocationSea Palace Hotel
26 P. J. Ramchandani Marg
HoursDaily, 5pm to 11.30pm