A garage bar at Nagwara Junction? Our first thoughts: Not exciting at all, Nagwara is totally off the usual pub circuit and why travel nearly 13 kilometres from the heart of the city (read MG Road), braving the chaotic traffic for over an hour. But a little research about this newest pub-cum-lounge bar got us kind of excited. So, The Chug Garage Bar is the cousin of Chennai’s considerably popular pubs, Illusions -The Madras Pub and The Vault-Bar Stock Exchange. Most of the online reviewers seemed to have loved both the places — reason enough for us to visit their Bengaluru counterpart.
Chug reminded us of the stereotypical narrow lounge bars — a long table with bar stools on one side and a totally dismantled motorbike mounted on the opposite wall. We walked a little further and that’s where lies the larger dining area with a well-stocked bar. Based on the Royal Enfield Bullet, the decor showcases the motorbike in parts — suspension spring lights, bike forks doubling up as sidebar lights and paintings and framed newspaper clippings showcasing the bike’s journey.
Even their menu emulates old-world charm, with its pages clipped to wooden clipboards.
We started with the Madras Bull (a concoction of vodka, murraya, cumin seeds, fresh chilli, tamarind and tomato juice) and a mocktail — Retro Street (a mix of strawberry crush, mint, pineapple juice and coconut cream). While Madras Bull fired up our appetite with the South Indian touch of topping the drink with Salem red chillies, the Retro Street left a syrupy after-taste because of the coconut cream, but the pineapple twist in the drink balanced the flavours.
Next in line was the Cheesy Stuffed Meat (beef) appetiser. Meat-lovers will relish these succulently cooked meat balls soaked in barbecue chilli sauce, flavoured with oregano. Just pop it in and let it melt in your mouth. For vegetarians, we suggest the Vol-au-vents, crispy layered hollow puffs filled with corn, walnuts and cheese.
Now that our appetites were warmed up enough, we were ready to sample their mains. We tucked into an elaborate spread that included Eggplant Parmigiana, Red Wine Braised Lamb, Mushroom & Bean Salad, Calamari Salad, paired with Tomahawk (whiskey, Irish syrup and chocolate ice cream) cocktail and Two Piece (chocolate ice cream mixed with brownie and molten peanut butter) mocktail. Eggplant Parmigiana seemed closest to the original Italian version. The Red Wine Braised Lamb was the star of the main course. Served with mashed potatoes and greens, the boneless piece of meat was soused with exotic flavours. We seemed overloaded with the cheesy and meaty flavours, so the salads provided some much needed freshness. The chocolate ice cream-based drinks added to the medley of flavours.Creamy and perfectly blended, they were truly indulgent.
For dessert, we were served the Snicker Bar and the Tiramisu. The Snicker Bar — a solid five-layer desert made with molten Snickers and chocolate cake, bordered with chocolate flakes was extravagantly chocolatey. The Tiramisu is lighter on the palate and a must for coffee addicts.
Overall, The Chug Garage Bar definitely keeps up the standards that its predecessors have set in Chennai. It joins the league of pubs that are also known for their quality and variety of food served.
Rs 1,200 for two. At Nagawara Junction. Details: 25442244
— Ayesha Tabassum