Thenga, Manga, Nannari! Func puts a south Indian spin on its signature cocktails
You know what you’re going to get from Func (pronounced as funk) even before you walk into it. After all, the acclaim of Chennai’s Radio Room—Func’s brand consultants, precedes it and what we hope to receive is a quality experience with every sip and mouthful. As a prelude to what promises to be a laid-back evening at Poppys’ new restobar, we get a tour of the well done up interiors. Drawing influences from the street art trend that has been the rage over the past year, a graffiti art facade with the words ‘Kovai — 641043’ is the first thing to welcome visitors. But what catches our attention as we step through the infinity mirror room sporting trippy psychedelic lights, apart from the murals, is a wall entirely made up of cassette tapes — 6,500 tapes to beprecise. “Func follows the theme of a hip restobar that caters to a young audience, while presenting the culture of the city in a unique way,” explains Chennai-based Zahir Naina—the director of operations and business development wing of Radio Room, who has created the drink and food menu. Sporting a pastel colour palette, the 40-seater bar features textile art and something that resembles a pinball machine art installation.
That’s the spirit
We take our seat at a circular booth and right from the word go we realise that the menu showcases local food and flavours with a novel twist. Setting the mood for the evening, we start with a Thenga cocktail. “Given that we work with domestic spirits, we wanted to create a culture around the cocktails that are served,” says Zahir. A light rum-based drink with tender coconut water and coconut syrup, the ginger chunk infused drink jolts you with its half spicy and peppery after taste, but is pleasantly refreshing nonetheless.
From a refined and curated menu of the hotel’s restaurant, we try the vegetarian cheese spring roll and cajun spiced baby potato. The spring rolls deliver as its name suggests. The potatoes, on the other hand, that are topped off with a spiced mayo are a favourite. Contrasting textures—crispiness from the chip, richness from the mayo and an added crunch from diced onion, make it the perfect finger food.
Sampling Func’s other signature cocktails—Nannari, Nellikai and Manga—all vodka-based specials, we particularly love the green mango concoction. It could be the familiarity of flavours—the chilli and salt-rimmed cocktail glass that reminds us of a raw mango loaded with spices—but we can’t help but munch on the green mango garnish as well.
Tapping our foot to the remix of a recent pop number, we nibble at the seafood starters as Zahir informs us about the concept behind the community table: To create a space for the like-minded to meet and share a drink over a chat. “Func is a space for conversation and good food. We want to carve a niche for ourself where we are not rated alongside other pubs. The music will always enable conversation,” he says, explaining the lack of a dance floor.
All this talk of good food and our attention shifts back to the Kottayam grandma’s prawn masala that deserves special mention. A flavourful, spicy delicacy, we love how succulent the prawns are. If you are looking for a chicken variant, we recommend the Madurai kaima kozhi paniyaram that is Func’s twist on the kuzhi paniyaram.
Open from noon to 12 am. Average cost for two Rs 800 (excluding beverages)
Pics: A Raja Chidambaram