Weapon with a melody

By Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

A new craft bar and kitchen in town offers a versatile menu and the promise of a great night out

Ayush Arora

A Dish arrives. It’s beautifully plated. The toasted slices of mini baguette are stacked in the way expensive watches or sunglasses are arranged inside glass cabinets at high-end stores, beckoning you to indulge in them. "All this could be yours," they seem to say.

There’s a side of a cappuccino-coloured spread, garnished with a pink jelly-like substance. "Looks like caviar," we think to ourselves and caviar it is — but a vegetarian version, made with cranberry juice. The dish concerned is chicken liver pâté with toasted baguette ('370) and we are at Hammer and Song, a new craft bar and bistro in Cuffe Parade. The spacious interiors feature furniture that alternates between plush sofas and classic vintage wicker chairs with iconic pressed-cane backrests. The largish wooden tables have smoothened tops, and the glass panes hide behind sleek blinds that go up during the day to let more sunlight stream in.


Chicken liver pâté with toasted baguette. Pics/Bipin Kokate

"For an entire three-hour journey from Pune to Mumbai, our family kept discussing names. "We were going hammer and tong with it and then it occurred to me, it can be called Hammer and Song," Amrish Arora, who’s spearheading the place, reveals.

"Try it, try it," Arora urges us, pointing at the untouched plate of food. "But it’s liver!" we exclaim and then try it anyway. The pâté has a strong meaty odour similar to how a saucepan smells after you boil eggs in it, and the caviar is akin to a slimier version of soaked tapioca seeds. Notwithstanding our squeamish reservations, it’s a pleasant dish.

The bar menu has a versatile mix of craft beers and cocktails. "We’re sourcing our beers from different breweries around town and offering a compilation of the best that’s available. We’re adding our own little tweaks, though, and the cocktails are my creations," explains Ayush, Arora’s older son and head mixologist at the bar.


H&S old fashioned

We call for the H&S old fashioned (Rs 600 to Rs 1,500) and in the meantime, the waiter serves us a plate of the edamame truffle dumplings (Rs 590). The taut yet delicate dumplings glistening in truffle oil are filled with a boiled edamame mousse and have a distinct umami flavour — a term often used to describe dishes that are neither salty, sweet, sour or bitter.


Edamame truffle dumplings

We also try the avocado, asparagus and cucumber sushi (Rs 650) as the father-son duo are speaking. And though we’re having a thoroughly enjoyable time, this dish fails the taste test. The Tuscan roast chicken (Rs 570), on the other hand, turns out to be a delightfully succulent portion of chicken soaked in brine, smeared with herb butter, stuffed with mirepoix and sprinkled with sea salt before being roasted to perfection. It is served with baby carrots, a mushroom pepper jus and a side of muddled baby potatoes with skin.


Tuscan roast chicken

Completely full by now, we attempt to pick Arora’s brain, hoping to find out what catalysed the decision to open yet another bar, that too in such close proximity to his popular restaurant, Flamboyante, located a few strides away from where we are. "When I set up shop in Cuffe Parade 11 years ago, people thought I was crazy. The whole world was moving to BKC, Juhu and Bandra. But I wanted to spend the money on quality instead of rent," Arora explains.

OPENS ON August 27
TIME 12 pm to 1.30 am
AT World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade.
CALL 40647733

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