Bar Review: REN by China Garden
Almost every mention of China Garden seems to evoke memories of childhood birthday parties in the early 1990s, as it was one of the few posh restaurants of its time. This past weekend, a visit to Ren, the new lounge bar housed in the floor above the establishment’s Khar outlet, evoked memories of another kind: those of the mid-noughties, the phase when our city seemed to be inundated with generic lounge bars.
Ren, we learnt, is located in the same space as the banquet hall that was shuttered almost a year ago by the Wangs to make way for their new lounge. The banquet hall was called Piano Bar, after the popular members-only lounge that was attached to the China Garden in South Mumbai. We were too young to visit Piano Bar during its hey day, and sadly, Ren is the kind of nightspot we grew to hate in our mid-twenties. It’s the kind that calls itself a lounge but really wants to be a nightclub, with loud décor, loud music, and loud crowd. They even turn on strobe lights at 11.30pm, which means the only thing missing is a dance floor. The sole distinctive feature is a set of colour-changing wall panels inscribed with Chinese letters. The rest could belong to any lounge in town.
There’s none of the visual appeal of Mumbai’s other famous Chinese-owned bar , the now-shuttered Trilogy. On the other hand, the management at Ren is far more welcoming; you simply pay a cover charge of Rs2,500 per couple to get in, no guest list nonsense involved. With cocktails at around Rs500 (inclusive of tax), the drinks are cheaper too, but alas not half as good. With the notable exception of the Pina Colada, which was frothy, creamy and boozy all at once, the rest of our drinks, including the staff-recommended kiwi margarita and caprioska, were just about serviceable. The best thing about them was the efficiency with which they, and our starters (off the China Garden menu), were prepared. The bartenders were quick and polite even when the place began to fill up.
When we walked in around 10.30pm, the average age of the crowd veered close to senior citizenship—veteran Bollywood actor Dalip Tahil seemed to be hosting a party at the largest table in the room—but it went down as the night progressed. We spotted model Sushma Reddy singing along to David Guetta’s “Titanium” a little before midnight. The place was almost packed when we left, with patrons both young and old clicking pictures on their camera phones, and dancing to the DJ’s mix of club hits by Guetta, Rihanna and Chris Brown. Proprietor Edward Wang (son of China Garden founder Nelson), who could be seen supervising the proceedings, had clearly given the people what they want: a stick-to-the-formula nightlife experience that is likely to only challenge their auditory faculties.
This review was conducted anonymously.Tags: bar reviews, bars, Edward Wang, Nightlife, ren, REN by China Garden
REN by China Garden
Phone022 2600 2626
HoursDaily, from 7.30pm to 1am