Review: Hyderabad's all-new The Velveteen Rabbit serves up delicious Pav Bhaji Naanza and cocktails in a cigar glass
As far as first impression goes, The Velveteen Rabbit sets one right when you walk into it — quotes from Margery Williams’ novel (after which the bar is named), green and brown beer bottles placed in open shelves and pictures of a rabbit showing you the way to the bar. As you enter the outlet, you’re reminded of a typical 90’s bar with dim lights, cosy seating and a spinning disco ball right in the centre. The bar is relatively small though, with seating for about 50 people.
Located in Jubilee Hills, The Velveteen Rabbit is the latest watering hole of Hyderabad. The Chennai-based lounge bar, which opened in the city recently, has become a favourite, especially among celebrities who were also spotted at the launch party. “While our first branch in Chennai has more than 50 cocktails, we offer about 40 here for now and plan to increase the number depending on the customers’ reviews,” says Ashish Thadani, who co-owns the outlet with Nidhi Thadani.
A bit of drama
Meanwhile, we find our seats among a sofa and stool in a corner that pack the tightly furnished space with a make-do dance floor right in the center. “We want to make The Velveteen Rabbit a neighbourhood bar, where people come to hangout with a beer or a cocktail, and also for those looking for a wholesome dinner. Good music, good drinks and good food are all we want to offer,” Ashish adds.
As we listen to Guns ’n’ Roses play in the background, we check off the first box and get ready to try their food and drinks. We begin with the Signature Tokyo MidTown. The cocktail made of rice water, sea salt, maple syrup, lime juice and Jack Daniels arrives in a cigar mug. Our waiter pours water on the dry ice placed beneath the glass for a whoosh of smoke, giving it a dramatic feel. The drink is topped with pickled onions, which add a tangy flavour to the sour drink.
The next cocktail, Artillery Piece, is tad spicy, courtesy the roasted garlic and ginger gum, paired with whisky and lime juice. Raspberry and Rhubarb Margarita is a refreshing change with the sweetness of the fruit. We pair it with Barbeque Chicken Wings. These boneless wings are served with a topping of spicy barbeque sauce.
Bites of bhaji
Moving on to the food menu —that reads like a hardbound storybook — we are told that most of it is same as their Chennai branch with a few special Hyderabad-only options like Telangana Mutton and Chettinad Chicken. Our favourite is the Pav Bhaji Naanza. A generous layer of bhaji is spread on the base and topped with butter sautéed pav.
The crispy crust with spicy bhaji makes this one the star of the evening. If you’re looking for a filling option, try the Kathi Roll (available in paneer and chicken).
While vegetarians can also opt for Onion Rings (stuffed with mushroom), meat lovers must try the Pulled Chicken Bao.
Price for two: Rs.1,600.