Bandra’s Yellow Tree Café with its fashionably distressed interiors and funky food has been a hipster’s paradise since it opened in 2009 – trendy and relaxed but also increasingly busy. Perhaps with a view to giving the café’s spill-over crowd a new option, Yellow Tree’s owners together with models and wine enthusiasts Mashoom and Shamita Singha have opened a new bar on the building’s third floor. It hasn’t been named, just marked by a flower engraved on a wooden board near its entrance. And with no entry restrictions, it’s as chilled and intimate as Yellow Tree, meaning that if you can muster a few friends you can virtually take over the whole bar.
No group was large enough to rule the bar when we dropped by on the Thursday of its opening week. Mostly there were just couples sprinkled about. But a lively bunch of six helped give a bit of zing to the atmosphere. Working their way through the wine and cocktail menu, they grew louder and more entertaining, as they clumped around one of the couches on top of the bar’s windowsills that overlook Ambedkar Road from three storeys up. We were also tucked into one of these window booths, and they’re great. They lend a homely and social feel to the bar with friends squeezing in next to each other. There is also a bookcase carrying volumes by Paulo Coelho and Chetan Bhagat. The rest of the bar is pleasant enough in whites and wooden tones but plain compared to Yellow Tree’s flourishes.
The starters seemed to promise more adventure, however. The menu, which is separate from Yellow Tree’s, doesn’t offer mains but only starters. We went for the Three Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (R355), Smoked Salmon Platter (R595) and Spiced potato wedges (R255). The mushrooms served in a line on zigzagging Szechuan sauce were juicy critters that exploded in your mouth but left a bitter aftertaste. We would also have liked more zing in the creamy dips that were served with the salmon and wedges. Portions were small and when you combined the starters with two cocktails, our bill was pricey at R2,628. Fortunately, the cocktails were delicious. The summery Feel Good Factor (R495) mixed vodka and peach schnapps with orange and cranberry juice while the Black Grapes Mojito (R495) was muddled nicely and proved a yummy mojito variation with blueberry liquor, white rum and black grapes.
Overall, the bar above Yellow Tree isn’t yet comfy or funky enough to work as a hangout where you can spend leisurely hours exploring the internationals wines, champagnes and single malts on the Singha sisters’ drinks menu. But with plenty of standing room, it could turn into a buzzing nightspot, especially if the hipsters decide to bestow some of their hipness on this little bar.
By Ben Leahy on May 25 2012 10.06am