Keep your mind open as you walk into The Open Box
Here are moments when you enter a new restaurant or pub or lounge, and wonder if the food is going to be as cool as the space. The Open Box is good looking for sure; it’s divided into sections that I thought was a smart idea. And each section has its highlights — quirky posters on the walls, a refurbished typewriter in one corner, pool tables to kill time, and similar little treasures for you to spot. You will also stare at the menu for a while, because it looks like a calendar. While that might be ‘cool’, I don’t care much for the watering can glasses, and the other crockery. It’s been done to death, and should be laid to rest.
Food for thought
The food is, in one word, experimental. And I am not talking molecular gastronomy, or making broccoli taste like fish. I am talking about adding chicken in the Calcutta-style jhal muri, or the phirangi pani — a cold avocado soup that comes in a beaker, which you then pour into a shot glass, but not before adding some of that into a panipuri and eating that first. It’s not bad, and probably even fun, but it’s tedious, and I can’t go through it again. The Wings 65 made up for it though. Fried in chicken 65 masala, the wings have a nice spicy crunch to it.
And then there is the traditional stove grill ghee roast sandwich. The whole ingenuity behind this jugaad is irresistible. Plus it tastes really good. The masamman curry, served with focaccia bread cubes (on a stick, fondue style) is good main to go with. Try the desserts here. The pina colada barfi is divine; there’s very little sugar in it, and the taste is spot on.
While I would be perfectly happy to sip on a regular dry martini here, their range of innovative cocktails definitely has its takers. The Drip me Tight (vodka, blood orange syrup, tonic, lemonade) or Kid Crème (dark rum, chocolate) or Science Project (vodka, orange juice, blue curacao and sprite), are some of the interesting cocktails you might want to check out. The way the drinks are served, in short, are unusual. I’ll leave it to you to like it or not. Have a go at Cuban Goli though; it’s got white rum, pineapple juice, mint syrup, lime and sugar and freshly carbonated soda, and is served in one of those old school soda bottles that are still seen on the streets of Mumbai.
I admire the energy that surrounds a place such as this. People streaming in, not bothering about having to stand by the bar with a drink, and often staring at other people’s tables, thinking, ‘What is that drink?’, or ‘What are they eating?’
The Open Box takes the liberty to play around with food. It might work, or it might not. But for now, they are trending, and that’s all that matters, doesn’t it?
Rs 2,500 (for two). At St Mark’s Road. Details: 41280055
— Priyadarshini Nandy