Bar Review: Swey, Worli

Swey.If over the last couple of months you’ve driven past Atria Mall in Worli after midnight on the weekend and been intrigued by the throng outside the entrance, then know that at least some of them are either leaving or entering Swey, the new bar housed atop its rooftop. Swey, along with nightclub Matahaari, is drawing the crowds back into the shopping centre, which continues to be deserted by day.

The newest venture from the team at Kino Hospitality, the folks behind Juhu lounge Copa and Bandra Kurla Complex restaurant Dishkiyaoon, Swey seems to be appealing to both the 20-something bar-hopping crowd and the above-40 dining set. In a city as hot and muggy as ours, the appeal of a rooftop location is clearly universal.

It’s another matter that because Atria overlooks high-rises, there isn’t much of a view unless you score a spot from which you can glimpse a patch of the sea. From where we were sitting, we could see the Four Seasons hotel in the distance, which is perhaps best known for its swanky rooftop bar Aer. Swey, which is far more casual and nowhere near as pricey, shows that at least aesthetically the owners have come a long way since Kino 108, their erstwhile Andheri pub where the most distinct interior feature was a motorcycle.

They’ve made good use of the 14,000 square feet at their disposal at Swey, by filling it, like Copa, with a variety of seating options. There are high tables, low tables, long tables, sofas, cabanas and those selfie-inspiring circular swings, suitable for groups of all sizes. Unlike Dishkiyaoon, which is overwhelmed by an excess of different decorative elements, Swey is tastefully kitted out, in shades of white, wood, black and indigo. As a result, the few flourishes stand out such as the DJ console that resembles a hot air balloon and the lightbulb-shaped salt and pepper shakers.

The menu, on the other hand, is as multi-cuisine as at their BKC establishment. Some of the house cocktails bear descriptions that sounded iffy – a blue cheese martini, a combination of chamomile tea and smoked whisky – so we stuck to ordering the safest of their unique preparations. They also happen to be the most healthy-sounding of the lot. The Kale and Hearty (Rs500) was essentially a cucumber vodka martini with a touch of bitterness from the kale frond floating in the glass. There was not a trace of the ginger listed among the ingredients yet it was different enough for us to sip it through the end, especially since most cocktails err on the side of over-sweetness.

The same was the case with the Apple A Day (Rs550), made with vodka and apple jam. It was not too sugary and only slightly sour. Though neither would make it to an all-time best cocktails list, they were both above average and turned out to be better than the classics. The Bloody Mary (Rs375) delivered a spicy kick with every sip but had none of the hot, sweet and tangy complexity you get in a great version. Their whisky sour (Rs375) was sour indeed; there was so much lime that it overpowered the alcohol.

To balance out our relatively waist-conscious drinks order, we ordered a couple of indulgent appetisers. There was much more batter than onion in the Dishkiyaoon onion rings (Rs250), which were impressively crunchy and not too oily. The punch of the eponymous East Indian spice mix was missing in the bottle masala chicken (Rs400), our waiter’s recommendation from the tandoor section. On the plus side, the meat was perfectly cooked in the dish, which tasted like regular chicken tikka. The best of our starters probably took the least effort to prepare: the wasabi and soy cashews, Sri Lankan spiced almonds and pumpkin seeds (Rs250). The honey and chilli coated pumpkin seeds were addictive and while the cashews and almonds weren’t at all spicy, they were satisfyingly crunchy.

We skipped the mains for a sundried tomato and burrata pizza (Rs500). Their wood-fired oven makes a thin and light pizza crust. However the cheese was tasteless, turning the piquant sundried tomato into the dominant ingredient. Drinking as opposed to dining was the agenda for most of the customers surrounding us, and on an uncharacteristically breezy Saturday night Swey seemed just right for multiple rounds. It helped that the lighting is low but not so dim that we couldn’t read the menu, and that the music was streamed at a volume that didn’t require us to exert our voices.

The weakest link of our experience was that the DJ played a medley of unimaginative remixes of current and classic pop hits. The service, which was quick and attentive despite an almost packed house, was among the highlights. People were streaming in at quarter past twelve, which is when the tempo picked up and the increase in volume served as our cue to leave. If we return, it won’t necessarily be to savour the food and drink. We’ll go to spend a few hours in a place that offers a refreshingly grown-up alternative to all the other loud, noisy and chaotic options that abound.

Prices exclude taxes and a service charge of 10 per cent.

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

Swey, Fourth Floor, Atria Mall, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli. Tel: 98191 74120. Open daily, from 6pm to 1am. Get directions here

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