The early south Indian settlers in Matunga gave Mumbai some good kaapi and other south Indian specialities that any Mumbaikar can swear by for their authenticity even today. Cafe Madras and Ram Ashraya have been feeding Mumbaikar’s for years and there are not many other restaurants that can do justice to the cuisine. that Mumbai so now loves.
South India’s liking for alcohol over many other states (except for Goa) is quite well-known, so how could Mumbai not see a south Indian pub any time soon? SamBar Pub and Kitchen came as a welcoming surprise a little over two month’s back in Khar (sadly not in Matunga – the heart of South India in Mumbai).
Sitting alongside Three Wise Monkeys and Light House Cafe, SamBar’s pink logo of a man with an afro sporting a green moustache, three-lined tilaka and green aviators with a mole on the side is hard to miss. The pub has an open outdoor section and an indoor section with a bar on the side and tables with high bar-stools. The bar menu has beers, rum, whiskey, vodka and gin and their signature cocktails, that will definitely excite the ‘foodie’ in you. The food menu is sprinkled with varied dishes from almost every southern state in India.
Move over the classics because these Anna’s have got a really good southern mix. Having heard a lot about the Rasam Mary (Rs 345), I was really excited to try it and the cocktail didn’t disappoint at all. The spicy cocktail lived up to the hype with the flavour and spice of rasam perfectly mixed with the classic Bloody Mary. The combination of rasam, tequila, chili and tobasco with tomato juice is a potent mix and definitely a must-try. The Capi Madras (Rs 275) was served in Madrasi-style filter kaapi arrangement – steel glass and bowl. It was a frothy coffee-flavoured drink with Vodka, Coffee Liquer and Cardamom with an earthy tone that quite impressed us. Anna Colada (Rs 275) – a tribute to the south Indian man is a heady mixture of white rum, pineapple and chilled coconut juice; it is quite refreshing.
We started with Paneer Paniyarram (Rs 150) – improvisati0n of the classic south Indian snack with a soft delicious paneer filling. The dish was served with a classic green chutney but the filling could have done with a little more spice as it would otherwise lose its charm. We couldn’t help but try the classic Meen Polichattu (Rs 330) and we were certainly left impressed with the spicy and tangy flavoured fish wrapped in banana leaves. The tang blended perfectly with the spicy masala and steamed fish which was lent a familiar flavour from the banana leaf. The Poricha Kozhi (Rs 280) is simply spicy chicken roasted to perfection and served with a delicious sauce with a hint of tamarind in it.
We decided to try an innovative Kori Rotti (Rs 300) than settling for a Kappa Biryani among other options. A spicy Mangalore-style chicken curry served in a dosa-like rice wafer was the highlight of our meal. The crisp wafer with the curry and generous amount of chicken pieces was a delicious combination, we were happy to try. The bar doesn’t serve desserts but we really didn’t miss out on it because of a potent Awesome Payasam (Rs 175) shot. Sweet payasam is mixed with a mysterious alcohol (a surprise by the bartender) and served in a kulhad acting as the glass.
SamBar has packed a punch by adding a South Indian touch to otherwise classic cocktails along with food from the south that almost any Mumbaikar likes.The quirky decor and proximity makes it an ideal place to drop by on any day in the week, if you want to try something different.
Must try: Rasam Mary, Anna Colada, Meen Polichattu, Kori Rotti
Meal For Two: Rs 1,200 + taxes