Monkey Bar is set to raise the bar for comfort food in the capital. We take a bite off their revamped menu to see what they’re bringing to the table to make Delhi monkey around.
A visit to the country’s first gastropub is never just about stellar tipples & nibbles, the striking architecture guarantees a feast for the eyes too. Taking our place under their splendid skylight on a Friday evening, the start-of-weekend timing was perfect to charge at some comfort food à la MoBar. We started off with a warm welcome by the Prawn Pil Pil, made with prawns tossed in olive oil, fiery chilli, punchy garlic, and parsley, served with a side of garlic toast. The tenderness of the prawns bowled us over, and drowning in the spot-on aglio olio concoction made this dish hit the homerun for us. The toast was topped with just the right amount of garlic and extra butter a garlic bread deserves, with a sprinkling of chilli to pack that extra punch.
The Med Platter followed – a melange of hummus & pita, smoked baba ghanoush, labneh, roasted peppers & olives, falafel, and spinach & cheese filo parcels. It also brought out a melange of feelings from us, almost everything on the platter was a winner but the pita, labneh dip, and filo parcels missed to hit the spot. The texture and taste of hummus and baba ghanoush were done right, with the base flavours touching our palate despite the required decadent use of olive oil & sesame tahini; and the falafel carried a creamy centre, relieving us of the usual dry mouth post falafel sessions. The misses of this platter? The labneh could do with a more distinct garlic flavour (enough to pop a mint after); the pita & filo were a tad undercooked. Next up were the Mac & Cheese Croquettes – soft as a fluffy cloud with a rich & smooth center, and no guilt-inducing oil remnants despite being fried – this is our new go-to nibble accompanying our tipple at MoBar.
Treading forward we were greeted by Baked Brie, where this creamy delight was tossed with marmalade & caramelised onions and stuffed in a crust of puff pastry, served with a side of chilli oil, basil, and fruit compote. In a nutshell, picture a sphere of pure bliss! The subtle acidic nature of brie is complemented by the sweet onions and fruit compote well to fulfil your comfort food aspirations. In a belly-happy state, we were ready to move on to their array of new pizzas. Monkey Bar’s introduced four new pizzas to their menu, Lamb Meatball & Cheese, Spinach & Feta, Farmer’s Pizza, and Smoked Chicken. While all four competed well with each other till the last crust was devoured, our votes heavily swung towards the Farmer’s Pizza & the Lamb Meatball & Cheese. The former being a tree-hugger’s wet dream with jalapeño, olive, sweet corn, capsicum, onion, tomato, and mozzarella – you don’t taste each ingredient separately but as a celebratory amalgamation into one slice; and the latter was topped with succulent meat balls, ready to melt in your mouth as soon as you bite. Spinach, Feta, Herbs & Grilled Onions is an interesting spin on the popular pizza, though it is a palate pleaser only if you’re an onion fan; and the last of the lot, The Smoked Chicken, Salami & Harissa pizza is a delight if you fancy some tang, as the meats come with pickled onions and sprinkled with lemon zest for that piquant finishing touch.
Coming to the penultimate dish of our dinner, we tried the Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Bacon. The al dente pasta did us good, though we wish the aglio olio sauce had recreated the magic it made with the prawns. The relish of parmesan, olive oil, chilli flakes, and garlic were disintegrated, struggling to come together as one dish. However, the generous serving of bacon chunks helped redeem the spaghetti! Our evening was rounded off by their Soulful Bowl ft. Tenderloin Bulgogi, the one-bowl-meal with sticky gobindobhog rice (aromatic rice from West bengal), kimchi, pickled carrots & radishes, boiled eggs, cucumbers, scallions, fried onions, and a choice of tenderloin, chicken, paneer, or pork. The bowl is dressed to impress, and impress it does; strewed with sesame the meat is one of the most succulent and flavoursome tenderloins you’ll find in the city, the eggs make their mark with the perfect 6-minute boil rule – the whites are fluffy and the yolk is on-point runny, the kimchi surprisingly leaned towards the sweeter side but paired well with the pickled vegetables. The sticky rice absorb the varied flavours within the bowl and acquire a taste unto itself, making this meal in a bowl an all rounder for us.
Bringing our supper to an end with some charming churros, we doffed our hats to Monkey Bar’s menu overhaul. Experimenting with new palates is no joy ride, and by introducing numbers such as the mezze platter and one bowl meals, the MoBar team continues to (successfully, if we may add) reinvent fun for the city. They tread the fine line between comfort food & gourmet with this menu, maintaining their top spot for our go-to space for team drinks & grub.
Head over to Monkey Bar at Plot 11, Upper Ground Floor, LSC, Pocket C – 6 & 7, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Enjoy your meal for approx. Rs. 2,000 for two.