Innovative cocktails and modern Indian cuisine make A Bar Called Life in Juhu a winning place to spend your evening. The menu is well-planned and moderately priced. Recently, we were invited to review A Bar Called Life, where we raptly enjoyed our meal and fun cocktails that had an element of nostalgia.
Replacing Villa 69, this newbie is the talk of the town. A Bar Called Life is thoughtfully planned and has comfortable seating. The 200-cover space offers a mix of indoor as well as al fresco seating options. They have modern-chic setting coupled with unparalleled service. The ambience is definitely a plus. If the weather allows, ask to dine outside. The outdoor seating is romantic and relaxing, provided the weather is pleasant. The indoor seating is very comfortable, and the vibe gets a wild party character as the evening progresses. The laid-back, relaxing destination at 6 pm transforms into a high-energy bar after 11 pm. As time ensues, the music becomes loud and the atmosphere changes to a foot-tapping party destination.
The kitchen is helmed by the talented Chef Amninder Sandhu, who won the “Best Lady Chef” award at the National Tourism Awards 2014–15. I met her first at Taj Lands End, Mumbai, where she was the Chef-in-Charge at Masala Bay at that time. Since then, I was a fan of her culinary magic. Her understanding and execution of regional Indian dishes with perfection, is undoubtedly among the best in the industry. When we received an invite to review A Bar Called Life, we knew beforehand that the food will be top-notch. But seeing is believing, after all. So one fine evening, we headed Juhu to find out what Chef Amninder had to offer to our palate this time.
Upon being seated, we were greeted by the ever-smiling Chef Amninder herself, who emphasised on the importance of reviving old recipes and presenting them with pride. We had a look at the food menu, which has mouth-watering, hearty finger foods that pair perfectly with drinks. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and the quality of food is at its best. Chef Amninder has been inspired by “lost recipes,” drawing on techniques and preparation methods passed down through generations.
Mixologist Dhaval Pilay has curated the bar menu, where he uses intriguing ingredients and different kinds of Indian spices and flavours to create an array of cocktails and mocktails that will truly please your tastebuds. The bar menu is divided into a number of sections. They have alcoholic beverages priced as low as Rs. 50 per drink each evening at 6:00 pm. The prices keep rising each hour, though.
From the section Life Lamba Khamba in the cocktail menu, I tried a very interesting drink called Gulabo, which came with a ball of cotton candy! The cocktail was a perfect marriage of a mix of Campari, White wine and Vodka. Dhaval explained that this cocktail represents the balance of male and female forces in a relationship. That’s the reason that it is both manly and feminine at the same time.
Next, we tasted two impressive cocktails from The Life Hastaakshar section of the cocktail menu. AN was served an excellent Kacchi Keri, which was very flavourful, with the right combination of raw mango syrup and gin with just the right amount of sweetness. One of their signature concoctions is the Vada Pav cocktail (see the picture below), which is a take on Mumbai’s favourite roadside snack. The cocktail was served with curry-leaf syrup, tomato juice and Whiskey. The Vada Pav cocktail comes with a real Vada Pav, and one is supposed to bite-in a portion of the Vada Pav and sip a bit of the cocktail alternately for better comparison and fun. Dhaval suggested that we also try the Meetha Pan, an interesting combination of house-made gulkand syrup, orange bitters and Vodka. This one is on our wishlist now.
We also liked the sound of “eating” a cocktail. Well, they have Taaza Kalingar, where freshly chopped watermelon pieces are infused with orange juice and vodka too!
The Life Klassik section of the bar menu is inspired by real-life, incredible tales and lost recipes, resulting in truly memorable cocktails with a twist. For example, the Khatta Amaretto (Amaretto, Bourbon Whiskey and egg white) is a drink inspired by the stock market newspaper from the year 1870. Another drink called Gulab Patta, is a drink hailing back to 1912. Inspired by the mob of New York, this is a mix of apple-infused brandy and pomegranate juice. We tasted and loved the Bandar Granthi, which has been named after a surgical team in 1920, to test the long life of human beings. The Bandar Granthi is a marvellous combo of Gin, Absynthe and orange juice. I loved the demo by bartender Dhaval who taught me how to make this cocktail too! That evening, I learnt a bit more about the art of bartending and mixology! They also have a section in their cocktail menu, named Life Vishesh, which is a special section where guests can create their own cocktails (either a Bellini or a Margarita) standing next to the “bars” at The Bar Called Life.
There is yet another section in the cocktail menu, called Life Nishaanebaaz, where they have interesting cocktails like Bajjate Raho, Chumgam and 8 Baje ke Baad.
Food is brilliantly put together and will surely send your tastebuds into frenzy. There are a decent number of fresh, lighter options as well as finger foods, if you prefer a light meal. Otherwise, they have full-course meals as well. I bet, you’ll love savouring different flavours and styles of food, as much as you will enjoy your drink. The service is good, too! They are attentive, friendly and accommodating.
We kicked off with a light and refreshing salad of watermelon, which is one of the better renditions around, too. The Popping Tarbooza literally popped and kept popping for a while in our mouth! Although feta cheese is a classic with watermelon, but the crushed peanuts, roquette, iceberg lettuce and microgreens added to the freshness factor. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, go for this fun appetiser for sure!
Another vegetarian appetiser, the Akhrot Malai Broccoli, was a really nice way to kick off our appetites. The dish was hearty, well-seasoned and had beautiful flavours. Frankly, I never enjoyed broccoli so much! The creamy, nutty dish was superb.
The Burrata Kadak Roomali was a knock-out. It was very light and flavourful. The crispy, spicy roomali roti transformed into a papad in this dish. Paired with cotton-soft burrata cheese, tomato and coriander leaves, it was simple and light, and yet innovative!
Love chillies? Then never say no to Naga Bhoot Jolokia if you are in for some “fiery” fun. At A Bar Called Life, they have chargrilled Bhoot Wings, with toned down Bhoot Jolokia sauce. The meat come off with remarkable tenderness and flavour. We loved those wings!
The Pulled Raan Slider was amazing. Slow-cooked raan and red onions were sandwiched between a pav. This is a dish I wouldn’t mind eating again time to time. The raan was well-cooked and perfectly tender, with the right punch of spices.
We tasted Sheekh Sheermal too. Succulent Seekh kebabs wrapped in slightly sweet Sheermal bread covering went well with our cocktail.
Moving over to the main course, we first tried the Ambarsariya Chole Kulche. This dish transported me to the dhabas of Punjab! The Chole had a lovely hue and was packed with sour and spicy flavour. The chickpeas were neither too soft nor too hard. The gravy was finger-licking good. The freshly made stuffed Kulchas were the perfect indulgence. Paired with pickle and a mind-blowing “malai-maarke” lassi, it was one of the most comforting dishes of the evening. Special mention to the lassi again, which was outstanding!
When we just thought that we had the best dish here, the next dish arrived, which changed our decision. Their signature Bamboo Smoked Mutton was too good to be true! The mutton was cooked so well and the smoky flavour lingered throughout. This is one dish that I would like to come back for again and again. The red gravy was spicy and well-seasoned. It came with a bowl of rice and was just enough to end the meal with a smile.
But then, Chef Amninder is known for her hospitality. She insisted that we try their Nolen Gurer Icecream for sure, along with other desserts. Her version of this Bengali favourite was great indeed, and the presence of the crispy shavings all around definitely uplifted the Bengali dessert to another level.
During the whole evening, there was only one dish that didn’t impress me at all. The Kaali Gajar Ka Halwa was too heavy a dessert served in a bar. Although I am a big fan of black carrots and try out every possible dish made with it, this dessert did not serve my expectations. Two spoonfuls and I was done for the day.
But wait, how could I leave without tasting an Indian dessert made with mutton? I was surprised and unsure where I would like it. Chef Amninder informed that it is actually a lost recipe. But the saffron and cardamom-scented Gosht ka Halwa was great! Had I not known the name beforehand, I wouldn’t even have realised that mutton was the main ingredient of that dessert. Eating Gosht ka Halwa was a pleasing experience that I will remember always!
We ended the meal with Cheese Cherry Pineapple. This is basically the chef’s take of the classic Cheese Cherry on Pineapple on a stick. We loved the freshness and well-rounded flavour of pineapple sorbet on cherry soil with blue cheese fondue. Life couldn’t have been better that evening!
A Bar Called Life undergoes a dramatic transformation, after dark. This place is an excellent location for relaxing, catching up with friends as well as for a fantastic date-night spot. This is my idea of a good time. AN’s too, I reckon. I can’t recommend it enough and look forward to finding an excuse to go back soon!
A Bar Called Life,
30, C/o Paradise Banquets, Opposite Juhu PVR Cinemas,
Next to ATS Office, Juhu Circle, Devle Road,
Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme, Mumbai 49.
Tel: +91-22-2620 0122
Hours of Operation: Tuesdays to Sundays 6:00 pm till closing.
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