Twice the celebration at Chennai’s DANK restobar for their anniversary!
“We had three focus areas — food, music and service — when we started and we are still focusing on that. We brought in artists from different parts of the country, the world”
When DANK opened its doors to the city’s kudimakkal in early 2020, it had a simple mission in place — Swig, Dig, Jig. Get creative with food, be adventurous with the spirits and offer world music along with it. Two years later, past many a challenge and strife, the pub celebrated its second anniversary with all these elements intact. A vibrant menu curated by resident chef Sabyasachi ‘Saby’ Gorai was served to an intimate gathering of patrons and connoisseurs; along with a generous rendition of Shravan Sridar’s tunes on the violin. Some things never change. And Shiburaj SJ, co-founder of DANK, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We had three focus areas — food, music and service — when we started and we are still focusing on that. We brought in artists from different parts of the country, the world. We experimented with different genres, brought in many bands and DJs,” he pointed out. It was in the same spirit that the anniversary celebrations got to witness the magic of Shravan and his violin. You could feel the air in the room change as the standard club mix gave way for an instrumental rendering of Channa mereya. Amid popular, crowd-favourite Hindi numbers, Poovukkul olinthirukkum and Game of Thrones title track too found an expression.
On the food front, Shiburaj was glad to have Saby holding up the forte to great success for two years. But for one night and one night only, guests at DANK got to experience a curation worthy of the anniversary event. From a spicy gazpacho, succulent escalivadas and the salmon canapes to gambas al ajilo (Spanish style prawns) and paprika chicken pizza were presented to perfection. Vanilla pannacotta and no-bake Biscoff cheesecake sealed the indulgent deal just as well as my Pina Colada did. There was the regular a la carte menu offering a grand mix of continental cuisine as well.
Despite these offerings, it is the name that DANK has made for itself even over the tumultuous two years that had brought in the patrons on a middling Thursday night. The anniversary may as well have been a reunion, what with Shiburaj personally hosting every guest and partaking in their dining experience, and friends and colleagues running into each other after months of lost acquaintance. “It’s been a mixed journey for us because the first lockdown came within 20 days of our opening. Surviving two years with only 11 months of operation for a new resto-bar was quite tough. But we have sailed through by getting into the consumer behaviour of Chennai and what is needed here. I think we’ve got that clicked,” he said.
Chef Saby and he is sure that there is potential for Chennai. “There’s a big appetite in India. I came from Yamunanagar, a small village in Haryana, where we opened a brewery. From day-one, we’re getting so many customers and we’re making lakhs just in food sales. And this is a village where you drive out for 15 minutes and you’ll reach the sugarcane fields. I’m happy to see this side of India. So, there is much that can be done in a city like Chennai,” he reasoned. And it’s just a matter of time before brands like Byg Brewski and GYLT and Bob’s Bar come calling, he added. Until then, DANK is still around for all your wining, dining and music needs.