Bar Review: True Tramm Trunk, Juhu

True Tramm Trunk3 EDITEDWe felt like walking out almost every minute of the first half-hour we spent at True Tramm Trunk this past weekend. Only our duty as reviewers kept us back at the chaotic new Juhu bar. Like many places these days, they don’t take reservations. However they don’t have a maître d to take names at the door either. This meant we had to look around for the manager and then hope he remembered our faces and fulfilled his promise to accommodate us when a table was freed (which to be fair he did). We were told we could stand around until then but the waiters refused to take our order because we weren’t seated. So we had to call for our drinks at the bar where the service was slow and varied between rude and confused. The waiter we first encountered told us brusquely he couldn’t help us, while the bartender waited until he finished making two of our cocktails before informing us the third was unavailable. He then held off taking our food order until he was done with our drinks. Fortunately we found some standing room at one of the community tables and our night got better. Well, somewhat.

True Tramm Trunk is among those populist bars that add just enough embellishments for a sliver of uniqueness while sticking to a formula that has made a success of such chains as Hoppipola. In other words, it’s a pastiche of elements from similar establishments. These include filament bulbs, colourful illustrations, humorous graffiti, community tables, a commercial pop soundtrack that switches to EDM and a dash of Bollywood after midnight, a multi-cuisine menu and most importantly, pocket-friendly booze.

The sole distinguishing factor is their list of house tipples, which includes a country liquor-inspired selection served in quarter bottles. Except, they only fill two-thirds of the containers. The Tharra (Rs300), a combination of citrus-flavoured rum and lemonade, was refreshing and contrary to its name, smooth. The Badi Saunf (Rs300), which was made with aniseed-infused gin and Sprite instead of tonic water as described on the menu, wasn’t bad either, primarily because of the strong and distinct fennel flavour. There was no trace of coffee, one of the ingredients listed in the Pawsar Country (Rs300), and the match of tequila and Sprite was too weak to be worthy of an association with the Jat-populated Haryanvi village it’s named after.

After we were seated, we weren’t treated as second-class citizens anymore, and our next round reached our table within ten minutes. The Muddy caiprioska (Rs250), made with demerara sugar, was expectedly on the sweeter side but otherwise competent. The Old Monk mojito (Rs250), on the other hand, was better balanced and benefited from the richness of the rum. The drinks are also the reason behind the pub’s best decorative feature: a groove filled with crushed ice runs through the community tables, in which you can lodge your bottles and glasses to keep them cool.

We had raised expectations for the food because True Tramm Trunk shares an owner with Fable down the road. Here too the menu draws inspiration from regional and global cuisines but with a poorer hit and miss ratio. The wok-tossed chilli chicken (Rs325), which packed enough spice to justify its name, came with onion and capsicum that added crunch and complemented the tender meat. The cheese-stuffed Bhavnagari chillies (Rs250) were a desi version of jalapeno poppers without the hit provided by the Mexican pepper. We ate them all anyway because it’s hard to resist melted cheddar in crumb-fried batter. The Cajun chicken pizza (Rs550) was closer to barbecue chicken and with its thick crust tasted similar to the pies peddled by fast-food chains. The Sri Lankan prawn curry (Rs395) was fragrant, filling, creamy and the high point of our entire visit.

We might have been the only people who ordered it because True Tramm Trunk is not the kind of place where customers eat dishes that require individual plates. Like ZooBar nearby, the crowd was a mix of young adults and revelers on the other side of 40. It appears that Juhu-Vile Parle residents, who were so long deprived of neighbourhood drinking options and were therefore compelled to travel to either Bandra or Andheri, are coming out in full force to celebrate the emergence of their locality as a nightlife hub. True Tramm Trunk – the name is a homonym for ‘too damn drunk’ – is cramped, noisy and disorderly. We think it’s just a matter of months before they open their next outpost.

It is our policy to wait at least a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.

Prices exclude taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.

True Tramm Trunk, First Floor, Vaishali Centre, next to the Options showroom, V. L. Mehta Road, J.V.P.D. Scheme, Juhu. Tel: 022 6022 9100. Open daily, from 6.30pm to 1.30am. Get directions here

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