A captive audience on the OMR, Chennai: How we felon love at the restobar Mug Shots
Be sure to get a designated driver in place before you head out to this new watering hole on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, or you might just end up as a picture on their walls!
Named Mug Shots, and barely a couple of weeks old, the cosy outlet is the first venture of three friends — P Arun Arumugam, D Chitrai Pandian and R Jaikumar — all of whom are computer engineers by profession, and graduated from National Engineering College, Kovilpatti.
While Arun is currently based in New Jersey in the US, Chitrai recently relocated from Mumbai, with the vision of giving Chennai’s nightlife a fillip.
The result is definitely welcoming, even as the interiors reference pop culture from across the globe. Actor Bryan Cranston’s Heisenberg greets you as Uncle Sam on one wall, alongside Banksy’s iconic Toxicity Inspector and other popular murals, Kurt Cobain sits between Miles Davis and Basquiat behind the bar counter, and Heath Ledger’s Joker looks over a line-up featuring everyone from Pablo Escobar, Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson to Bill Gates and David Bowie.
Martin Luther King is thrown into the bunch too, for some reason — even as the unifying theme of mugshots, police records-style, does the job of serving as a bit of a strategic warning, not to ever risk getting caught in such incriminating manner.
Gluttony, as charged
Thankfully, the regular alcohol menu apart, the bar packs in a well-stocked list of mocktails and other beverages. We tried a mango-based concoction that went down well with servings of Jalapeño Poppers and Mozzarella Cheese Sticks — a heady mix of sweet, spice and acidic taste notes.
If guzzling beer isn’t the in-thing to do as yet in these parts, the food menu here should find many takers, with a healthy offering of burgers and sandwiches.
The Bacon-wrapped sausages, Chimichurri Prawns and Peri Peri Chicken Fritters are great picks for a binge session, while the Seafood Ravioli, Confit Chicken and Watermelon Salad are fine options for more refined palates.
In any case, there are always Chicken Wings to reach out for, as the in-house playlist is comfortingly urban, with a mix of classic rock and new-age pop singalongs.
Felon love with the DJ
We were alert not to be seen singing aloud with our mouths full, never quite sure if there truly was an in-house moral police force for dining etiquette lurking behind us, ready to leap out from the walls! But all said, Mug Shots does make for a fun outing.
The owners expect to stay busy with a stream of corporate guests from the many companies in the neighbourhood, but we’re pretty certain that the hip and urban charm of the place will click with younger crowds.
Our biggest takeback was that Mug Shots could be as much of a fine dining venue (with some zing for good effect) as it aspires to be a happening lounge bar.
There’s a DJ corner in here too, curiously fenced off with a cage — almost playing off the image of Ledger languishing behind bars, though the hosts plan to make the interiors flexible, allowing them to make room for a fairly large dance area.
It’s a good thing you can’t get taken into custody for dancing like a maniac.
Meal for two with starters and beverages: INR 1,500 approx.
— Jaideep Sen