One of the few genuinely neighbourhood bars in the city
Atmospherics: Ek Bar has been around for a while and has changed avatars off and on. This time around, the interiors remain the same, but the food has been given the best make-over possible. Far from being overly pretentious, it now consists of bar snacks and small bites that go down a treat with a glass of something chilled. The bar itself is very prominent, and is at the entrance; a sitting room space is at the far corner with sofas and a low table. There is a partially glassed-in smoking section also on the first floor. A spiral staircase leads up to an open terrace with a few chairs. Ek Bar exudes the warmth and comfort of a much-used, lived-in space and has become the haunt of those who live in the vicinity and who visit regularly, as much to meet friends as to have a drink or a snack before (or after) dinner.
Table talk: Chickpea sundal with raw mango and curry leaves (Rs 315) was served in a paper cone, reminiscent of Delhi in the 1960s, when paper cones used to be the de rigueur wrapping for munchies. The faint whiff of pure coconut oil and the scent of the curry leaves took me to the streets of Mylapore, such was the attention to detail, albeit by a chef who probably has never been to Chennai! Jackfruit and yam galouti (Rs 365) had all the texture of the mutton version, with a hint of the trademark spices. Do not miss the Indian mezze platter (Rs 495) with a range of dips and chutneys that take their inspiration from the Middle East with a deliciously desi flavour. The best of the meat section included the highly addictive Kerala fried chicken (Rs 475) with fries. Fries and chicken tenders are dusted over with a light spice that makes you have ‘just one more’ till the entire tray has been polished off. The surprise of the meal was mutton suksa (Rs 525): small cubes of air-dried lamb deep-fried with spices. It is apparently inspired by a winter dish from Ladakh and has a unique texture.
Food: 3.75; Service: 3.50; Décor: 3.25
Must try: Bourbon glazed grilled jackfruit; roast mutton sandwich; jelabi, jellied rabri and almond cookie crumble
D 17 First floor, Defence Colony
Open from 5 pm to 1 am
Credit cards, alcohol
Meal for two: Rs 2,000 (without alcohol)