It’s finally here. Please Don’t Tell, modelled after the US concept of a speakeasy (clandestine bars which illegally sold alcohol during the Prohibition era) revels in the mystery of its troubled past to bring Mumbaikars yet another dining experience.
I enter the building to find a small room with a large red phone booth. I am confused – is it a lift? I get inside and brace myself to go up. Buttons are pressed and another secret door opens to the side of the booth, revealing a grungy, dimly lit bar pumping with Lenny Kravitz. I am baffled.
Grey is everywhere: in the roughly exposed backdrop, to spray-painted walls and the stone-walled bar, the high ceiling. Waiters run around wearing t-shirts with slogans that scream attitude: “Part of my job is to act interested in what you’re talking about”? Oh-kay then.
The menu, like a rebellious teenager has a lot to say, regardless of whether you want to hear it – starting with a cheeky “ATTENTION FREELOADERS” section for diners to garner wifi details, to strict instructions to tip the waiters well.
I order the Esoteric cocktail, which arrives sporting a huge syringe filled with orange. A deconstructed version of the popular cocktail Sex On The Beach, the bartender combines all the elements in a theatrical display.
The flavours of the peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry make for an authentic rendition, however the taste of the vodka does not permeate the drink.
Either that, or I’m way too much of a hardened alcoholic to taste liquor anymore.
The concept of the Please Don’t Tell menu is ‘nuts’ – in the psychological rather than culinary sense. The concept is not just Indian food, but a mish-mash of signature dishes from a variety of countries around the world.
I begin with the Middle East Conspiracy with lamb chunks. This is a fun sharing plate, the lamb is saucily lubricated and tangy with strong nuances of tomato which merge beautifully with the creamy hummous.
The flavours are personable and confident, with a good amount of spice which rouses the tastebuds from their slumber. The bread is wonderfully soft and easy to chew, making carbs fun.
The carnivore in me however yearns for more lamb to devour; in an ideal world there would literally be chunks of meat rather than conservatively small, diced pieces. Apart from this, as a whole the dish is fantastic.
The Sex and The City turns up. Unable to reconcile the fact that my favorite tv show now represents an interpretation of traditional keema pav, I reluctantly dig in to a dish which is a healthier version of the street offering I’m used to.
Creatively presented with dollops of finely minced mutton balanced precariously atop bread cylinders, this interpretation has less oil, better quality bread, and it won’t give me a stomach upset afterwards.
The underlying flavours are not overly raucous – the keema is conservative in spice while the bread emulates the butteriness found in street versions. Those used to fiery versions of this staple may not be satisfied.
Again I wish there had been a little more meat to go around; the bread alone is a little dry once the keema at the top of the cylinder is chomped off.
The Sticky Fingers arrive; fried chicken wings jostling for space in a simple, deep metal bowl.
The accompanying sauce is addiction in a bowl: tangy with sour notes which cause the diner to inhale sharply as the flavour hits the tastebuds. I pour the liquid all over the wings and am transported to a universe of crunch.
Guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser, the serving size is more than enough for two people to share; however due to the messiness of handling the dish, make sure it’s with your best buddy rather than a first date.
The Undercover Greek are falafel gyros which are presented to look like cute little mini burgers.
The chickpea flavour of the falafel is surprisingly authentic, while the bread makes you want to pull its squishy cheeks.
The accompanying salsa provides a cheeky hit of tang to a dish which is too good to be vegetarian.
Please Don’t Tell is a restaurant which is comfortable in its own skin. In spite of the effort made to exude an attitude, it is unpretentious in both food and service.
Owners Abhayraj Singh Kohli, Ashish Sajnani and Juspreet Singh Walia wanted to create an industrial space that when entered, ignores the reality of the outside world.
The fundamental idea of Please Don’t Tell was to create a community via a membership program which allows a select few access to the bar at any time, even when full. Only another member can invite a friend to be part of the program, which also grants the special few a 15% discount.
The rest of us are doomed to waiting in line to enter and paying full price – although it’s not so bad, as no dish exceeds 600 INR.
I am shown out via a secret exit around the side of the building. I feel as though no-one notices I’ve been missing. Excellent. Back to it, then.
Service 9, Food, 8.5.
Please Don’t Tell is located at Oasis Complex, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.