Chennai’s hottest new gastropub, Monkey Bar, is finally open!
If you’re a regular visitor to Bengaluru, you’ve definitely heard about Monkey Bar. Often accredited as being the first desi avatar of the gastropub in India, the property has finally found its way to Chennai with some regional flavours in tow.
Let’s begin with how familiar the décor felt. Monkey Bar has always prided itself on an easy, warm and relaxed ambience. While the Chennai outlet takes a departure from the usual to accommodate into a mall restaurant format (unlike the standalone format at other Monkey Bars across the country), the elements that we associate with the brand still remain. Varied styles of seating, a space that can be used for performance or to dance and various levels within the same property, keep the Monkey Bar feeling alive and well.
Bajji and brandy
The menu, featuring over 60 dishes, is non-conformist and quirky and re-imagines several South Indian favourites specifically for Chennai. With specials like Mirapakaya Bajji, Meen Varuthath, Nethili Fry, Gassi Fish Tikka and Tenderloin Pepper Fry, they’ve also created cocktails to satisfy the Chennai gourmand. There’s the Sip Semmai — with brandy, white rum, apple, cinnamon shrub and thyme; Old Fashioned Kacheri made with almond-infused whiskey, sugar, bitters, almond and orange zest; and Madras Men — a combination of whiskey, coffee shrub, orange juice, rosemary mist and tonic water. The Gassi Fish Tikka paired with the Old Fashioned Kacheri was a match made in heaven.
We also managed to taste a few other dishes including the all-city favourite Butterfly Chicken, the Tiger Tenderloin, the South-Indian favourite — Reddy’s Pop Corn Chicken, the Thele Wala Mutton Seekh — a hit from their North Indian restaurants, the Butter Chicken Kulcha — an absolute crowd pleaser, the MFC Burger and the Gundruk Fried Rice — a tribute to their largely North East Indian workforce.
If you’re looking forward to something more fruity, however, do try out two of their signature cocktails: Mangaa — vodka, aam panna, sweet lime, cumin and salt; and Copper Monkey — whiskey, orange juice, passion fruit juice, mint and bitters.
We wrapped up our tasting with a few bites of the Nutella & Old Monk Cake/Snicker Bar and then settled for a quick conversation. “Our foray into the Chennai market was a delayed one. We always knew we’d have to come here some day. I have a strong personal connection to the city. Not many people know that I am partly Tamil on my mom’s side. I’ve always been inspired by the city and its love for food and was very careful when creating the menu,” shared Manu Chandra, chef partner. Meal for two at INR 2,000++, at Madras House, VR Chennai.