Bar Review: Door No.1, Bandra

Door No.1Did Bandra, the home of Toto’s Garage and Hawaiian Shack, really need another retro bar? On the basis of the crowd inside the month-old Door No.1 two Saturdays ago, it’s evident that the Bandra Reclamation lane that houses Doolally Taproom and I-Bar could have done with another drinking spot. Whether Door No.1 is a worthy addition to the city’s nightlife scene is a matter of debate. The door of Door No.1 bear the words R&B. But soul music fans expecting to hear the likes of the Commodores or Boyz II Men might be disappointed to learn that the R&B stands for restaurant and bar, not rhythm and blues.

Inside, the DJ’s classic and alternative rock playlist sounded like it was stolen from Toto’s. At around 10.30pm, he switched to retro pop, the kind they’re known to love at the Shack. Apart from all the expected ‘retro’ elements such as LPs on the wall and a shiny disco ball, the inspiration for the décor is somewhat more modern. The brightly coloured, mix and match vintage office furniture is the sort we first saw at the Social chain of bars. Like the Social, Door No.1 is a co-working space by day.

During our dinner time visit, we found that they too are guilty of the increasingly common false belief that the more ingredients you put under a cocktail, the more exciting the drink will seem to guests. There was barely a hint of lemongrass and not a sliver of ginger in the lemongrass ginger martini (Rs300), which was made with vanilla vodka and was more lemony than the fragrant potion we were expecting. The fresh orange mojito (Rs250) in contrast had a higher booze to fruit ratio, which was less of an issue because the reverse is the case at most bars. Surprisingly, the best of their three signature tipples we tried was the spiked chocolate milkshake (Rs350), in which each of the three ingredients, dark rum, Kahlua and chocolate ice cream, were judiciously proportioned. Neither too sweet nor too strong, it was creamy and perfect for those who don’t mind drinks that could double up as dessert.

Of the classics, they did a better job with the daiquiri (Rs300) than the Bloody Mary (Rs250), which had too much ice and not enough tartness or spice. They’ve attempted to be more imaginative with the food menu in which a section called Single Faux Pas (Retro Days) lists dishes meant to evoke nostalgia. However items with descriptions like “Maggi with leftover bhaji” and “milk, half eaten pastry, half eaten chocolate bar, Pickwick, garnish with Phantom cigarette” don’t exactly stoke the appetite. Like the inside jokes, their appeal was lost on us. We chose the more promising dishes from their selection of regular starters such as the four varieties of homemade chips (Rs150). The beetroot crisps were alright; the thinly-sliced aloo chips limp and soggy with oil; the sweet aloo ones over-fried and flavourless; and the courgette wafers missing from the bowl.

The Goa pork sausage and pao (Rs380) was more tangy and oily than pungent, which is the way we prefer it. While the chicken sholay kebab (Rs350) was not as fiery as its name suggests, the moist cheese-topped tikkas were perfectly cooked. Similarly, the bhoot jolokia chilli cheese toast (Rs250) did not make us lunge for a glass of cold water but was spicy enough to make us wonder if they really had used the ghost pepper. Their French-style flat breads are just fancily-named pizzas. The chicken with pesto (Rs475) offering had the thick base of shop-bought readymade dough, and more cheese than pesto, which had been lightly rubbed over the meat. It was the kind of pie you could make at home, flavourful but not quite pizzaiolo-quality.

Overall, the F&B at this R&B is a tad above average, which seems to be good enough for the undemanding customers who just want the comfort of familiarity. The most notable thing about Door No.1, where they encourage you to steal the 45rpm vinyl record coasters, is that the average age of the customer seems to be above 30. Thirty-somethings just don’t have enough places to hang out anymore and for this reason alone, the owners of Door No.1 might just be able to open Door No.2 soon.

Prices exclude taxes.

This review was conducted anonymously. It is our policy to wait a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.

Door No.1 Ankleshwar, ONGC Colony, near Doolally Taproom, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 6535 5355. Open daily, from 11am to 1am. Get directions here.

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