Delhi’s culinary scene just got more exciting with the arrival of the hip and trendy gastro-pub in Vasant Kunj called Monkey Bar. After the raging success of this restaurant in Bangalore, the owners decided to try out the same formula in the capital and it hasn’t taken long for Monkey Bar to be declared a winner here. Delhi Gastro-Pub
Monkey Bar is essentially a ‘desi’ twist on the western concept of ‘gastro-pubs’; it is as much New York as it is New Delhi be it the vibe or the food! For all you Delhi-ites wondering how come you haven’t spotted it as yet that’s because it’s housed in the same pyramid shaped structure that used to be known as the Ministry of Sound earlier.
While from the outside this forty seven feet high pyramid gives an intimidating ultra-modern vibe, the interiors are in fact very warm and inviting with a mix of industrial, vintage and urban-chic decor.
Every possible material such as glass, steel, concrete and wood has been used to create a fun space.
As you enter you’ll spot the long wooden bar with stylish in-built bar stools.
Next to it you’ll find a small platform where groups of people tempted by the peppy music will be shaking a leg or two!
On one side is the games room which has a pool and fussball table.
On the other end are graffiti-laden stairs leading up to the mezzanine balcony which has plenty more booth-style seating.
Playful chandeliers hang from the sloping glass ceiling while interesting art, vintage posters and slate boards with chalk writing adorn the exposed brick walls. Everything from the quirky coasters to the imaginative washroom signs will make you smile and think ‘it doesn’t get more original than this’.
For Monkey Bar’s part owner and chef Manu Chandra, this is just one of the many feathers in his cap. He has tasted success with every new venture of his be it the whimsical Like That Only or Olive Beach in Bangalore and Delhi. Monkey Bar has among its partners bigwigs in the restaurant business — AD Singh and Chetan Rampal. It is Manu, however, who is at the helm of affairs.
While the imposing pyramid structure is reminiscent of the modern Louvre, the setting within is designed to negate cultural influence and focus instead on a celebration of eclectic expression.
The unhinged interior brings an interesting play of materials. Rough brick walls, exposed pipes and extensive use of steel creating an industrial setting, while posters and art highlight a vintage vibe.
Light fixtures are playful and vibrant while the floors, wooden and tile add a rustic earthy element to the otherwise sparse interior.
Chalk and slate, graffiti on the walls, mix-n-match visual vocabulary, concrete tables and large expanses of glass — the new hip is all about juxtaposition.
Furniture is conversational and brings a nostalgic memory of college cafetaria while the sumptuous menu underlines that the place takes its gastronomy seriously albeit in an atmosphere geared for fun and abandon. The intimacy of booth-style seating gives you a measure of privacy, while the mammoth expanse of the restaurant reiterates that every social bubble forms a part of a greater whole.
Unlike most other gastro-pubs in the city, Monkey bar is not just a cool college hangout; it is the inventive drinks and scrumptious grub that sets it apart from its contemporaries. Although Chef Manu Chandra had initially been warned about starting something this experimental in a city like Delhi where ultimately it boils down to butter chicken and roti he decided to take the risk anyway because he felt the mixed population of the city would be more receptive to such an idea. He seemed to have hit the nail right on the head because Delhizens are totally lapping up the Monkey Bar experience!
The menu at the Monkey Bar resembles a sketch-pad with art and scribbles pointing you to various drinks, snacks and meals to choose from. Don’t expect the usual stuff here. Think beyond cosmopolitans and margaritas. What you will get instead are refreshingly new concoctions made to tantalise your tastebuds and served to you in ‘lottas’ and peanut butter jars. Let’s start with the Naarangi which is a whiskey based orange juice cocktail. Then there’s the Maanga which is a blend of aam panna and vodka. While these two are the favourites, the other big hits are the Red Wine Sangria, Rum Rita, Copper Monkey, Mary Beer and how can we forget Ginger Rogers which is a smooth concoction of ginger ale and gin! All these drinks are as unusual and fresh as their names!
The food here is flavoursome and appetising to say the least. Chef Manu Chandra believes in the process of ‘slow cooking’ which really brings out the essence and texture of each and every ingredient that goes into completing a dish. His passion for food translates into mouth-watering dishes that leave you craving for more! For starters don’t miss out on the offal and the Monkey Bar signature classic- bheja fry (brain fry). For the main course, you’ll get everything from Kodava Pandi Curry and Goan Pork Sorpotel to lighter meals like ‘aamchi Mumbai’ Vada-Pav, Spiked Nachos in guacamole sauce and cottage cheese Flutterflies that are made to look like butterfly shaped quiches.
A visit to Monkey Bar is totally incomplete if you don’t sample their burgers. The best of the lot is the Mobar burger; the juicy beef, bacon and cheese filling make this one a sinfully delightful indulgence! For the ultimate dessert experience try the meticulously crafted Mobar Sundae Sandwich or the Choc XS cake. These dreamy delectable wonders will simply melt in the mouth!
Monkey Bar is no ordinary watering hole, it hits all the right notes — there’s great food, refreshing drinks, perfect ambience, pleasant and efficient service and to top it all — affordable prices!
It comes as no surprise that this venture has garnered so much attention in the Indian as well as the international Food and Beverage market. In fact more ‘Monkey Bars’ will soon be seen sprouting up in places like Mumbai and other cities in India.
More than anything else, the Monkey Bar experience is a pleasant reminder that we need to let our hair down every once in a while and indulge in some casual time out with friends and family over food and drinks par excellence!
So, once the office hours are over and you’ve marked your meetings for the next day and shut your laptop, loosen that tie, take off your coat and brave the chaotic Delhi traffic to head to the Monkey Bar because it is totally worth it!