Tag Archives: Bar review

Club Pangaea

Guilt plated ♦

photo 5Judging by the tremors Pangaea has caused in the lifestyle media with the news of its opening, the nightclub at the Hotel Ashok promises a seismic shift in the after dark life of the capital. The club aims to “redefine high-end entertainment”, said Spice Global chairman and owner BK Modi in Blouin ArtInfo. Reservations will cost up to Rs 4 lakh a table, reported Forbes India. The Pangaea club in Singapore, reportedly serves a $26,000 cocktail. Collaborator Michael van Cleef Ault – an inter­national nightlife baron who created the Pangaea brand (yes, he’s one of those van Cleefs) – said the Delhi club is “a sensuous and brilliant journey into the decadence of the Renaissance”. Is Pangaea all it’s cracked up to be? To find out, we headed to the Ashok one Friday night. A velvet rope and a small army of bouncers and hosts in black uniform stood outside where F-Bar used to be, bowing us in without a peep about cover charge or table price. We suppose the generosity and the warm welcome was bestowed upon us due to the relatively early hour (about 10pm), and our gender. Milling about inside were more waiters and two European women in red dresses. Around us: walls padded with red velvet – somewhere between bordello and loony bin, chandeliers and thick curtains, drawn apart to reveal some startling wall décor looming above the leather sofas. Front and centre is Eugène Delacroix’s “The Death of Sardanapalus”, which depicts an Assyrian king overseeing the murder of his harem to protect it from his enemies. Is the figure of a naked woman, bent painfully backwards in the grip of a man plunging a dagger towards her throat, really the best embellishment for a Delhi drinking hole? Will the patrons Ault mentioned in a Sunday Guardian interview – “Indian jet-setters”, “Delhi’s most affluent”, “the Bollywood star, the Hollywood star, the super­models and rock stars” – relish the opportunity to appreciate this classic of French Romanticism as an example of what Edward Said called “the Oriental genre tableau”, while nursing their bejewelled cocktails? We doubt it. Even if this were Prufrock, not Pangaea, that might be too much to ask. Anyway, neither famous people nor fancy cocktails were visible on our visit. In fact, there was no cocktail menu at all. When we asked for something interesting, we were offered the standard choices of “Cosmopolitan? Mojito?” The club plans to offer bottle service, but that night they didn’t even have Johnnie Walker. It’s been reported that the management here fires any waiter who doesn’t bring you a drink in three minutes. This wasn’t a problem as it was a relatively empty night, but getting the bill took longer than expected (and we had to ask for our change). Of the party-goers who did show up, some looked barely out of school and the rest were garden-variety scruffy south and west Delhi punters. The men were moussed-up, the women epilated and nervous as they swayed on their high heels to overloud EDM. A group congregated near the bathroom so they could gab. People seemed to be coming and going from the cordoned VIP section fairly freely. We lingered past 1am, but after a wallet-busting G&T and dirty martini (Rs 570 and Rs 700, sans tax), it was time for us to go too. Casting a look back at the not-so-sensuous decadence of a city’s youth adrift, we slipped under Jan van Eyck’s disapproving “Portrait of a Man in a Turban” and out the door. That we then sat for half an hour in the Ashok’s lobby, watching businessmen and NRI families from the late international flights checking in, tells you all you need to know.
Originally published in Time Out Delhi, December 6, 2013.

Published: December 11, 2013

Nox

Basic mixed drinks and loud karaoke at this casual HKV bar ♦

Nox, a long, sitting-room style bar thrust up the backside of Hauz Khas Village, is a likeable enough place, even if it does fall victim to the all-encompassing tendencies of most of the city’s drinking holes. This one literally aspires to a drinking hole aesthetic, with its wooden tribesmen and animal statues, bamboo fronds in pots and rustic wickerwork furniture. It also aspires to pure pop (solid-colour walls, retro movie posters), rock (the predictable, circa 2002, playlist) and a trip ’round the world (the itinerant menu covers everything from lobster thermidor to tandoori chicken momos).

All of this is par for the nightlife course. Unfortunately, the Saturday we visited happened to be karaoke night – always avoidable unless you’re the one singing. A couple of scraggly bearded dudes sucking on a couple of mikes were putting the Nox in obnoxious – belting Jay Sean and Linkin Park while their female friends tried valiantly to match volume. We had to write our order on a napkin in order to communicate with the rather embarrassed waiter.

The drinks menu is a basic list for now, with no cocktails. We were denied a request to spike mocktails (like “classic mojito”) – or perhaps our query was misunderstood. We wisely retired to the one outdoor table with our whiskey sodas (Teacher’s, R330; prices include taxes) and rum cokes (Bacardi, R200). We’d have liked a G & T to ward off the Hauz’s squadron of mosquitoes, but there was no tonic to be had, only soda.

Late happy hours for karaoke night are a plus, and the evening picked up significantly with a pizza Nox veg (R320). The thin crust pie was covered with caramelised onions and olives, spinach, corn and zucchini. The menu may be ambitious and speckled with oddities (“soothed mushroom” and “spared mushroom moo in wine”), but you might not go too wrong with dinner, drinks and hookah here. Just nix the drunken accompaniment.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, June 2012.

Published: June 8, 2012

My Bar

All the essentials in Paharganj ♦

Strip a bar down to its basics, and all you really need is an accommodating room, some seating, an efficient refill team, some liquor and – ideally – a liquor license.

My Bar in Paharganj has the essentials, and quite a few bonuses. Opposite the Metropolis hotel, this air-conditioned establishment is conveniently located within walking distance of the Ramakrishna Ashram Metro stop. Manning the door is a guard whose age, enthusiasm and mustache rival – nay surpass – those of Rajinder Chauhan, the gatekeeper at the similarly no-frills bar 4S.

Inside is a cavernous room, soothingly lit in pale fluorescent green. Pop music just loud enough to talk over comfortably and a TV broadcasting cricket complete the ambience. There’s a two-sided bar as you walk in, but the rest of the space is filled up with utilitarian chairs and tables. Occupying these seats, often for hours, are the patrons: mostly male, mostly local, with a smattering of foreign backpackers. Lady drinkers may occasion slight attention, but My Bar doesn’t feel unsafe or unwelcoming. The men here seem content to let women drink in peace.

The staff, scuttling about in their My Bar logo t-shirts, are also unfazed. Our waiter slapped down an ashtray and left us to peruse the two-page drinks menu. You’ll find “premier beer” (pints from  R65), Bacardi breezers and whiskey (regular, deluxe, super deluxe and Scotch), in a colorful array of brands, such as Director’s Special Gold, Antiquity Blue and Black Night. “Whiskey” also encompasses your standard rums, gin, and vodkas, including Romanov, Gorbatschow and Smirn Off.

The food menu is an exhaustive run-down of Indian-Chinese-Continental, crammed across several laminated pages that are greasy with the promise of the dishes to come. In view of its price and range, all that really needs to be said about the cuisine is that it looks supremely suited to its purpose, namely as stomach lining. We shared a hookah ( R160), which was supposed to be “the apples flavour” but tasted more like the remains of someone’s pan masala sheesha. Did we mind? Not really. It doesn’t feel like lowering the bar, when My Bar exceeds expectations in so many other ways.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, September 2011.

Published: September 5, 2011