The name of The Daily Bandra, a restaurant-cum-bar, is in itself unusual with a hint of mystery, leaving something to be desired. I reach the premises and am intrigued to see the restaurant has taken on the persona of a newspaper, hence the name ‘The Daily’.
Nowadays restaurants are recognising the need to provide more than just a place to eat; rather the focus is on providing the diner with a unique experience by transporting them to another world, if only for a short time.
The Daily proclaims the essence of happiness as its USP, featuring bi-monthly news bites of a positive nature hung framed on the wall for diners to gaze at and converse over.
More eccentric tales are hung in the bathroom for added entertainment.
I am blown away by the extensive drinks list featuring an immense variety of international whiskey, gin, rum, cognac, tequila, liqueurs, a small section of international wine and most impressive: the detail and range of cocktails.
Divided into signature, classic, tiki and pre-prohibition era cocktails (the latter adding a historical element which is informative and interesting for the consumer), molecular cocktails are also available, which I am informed are dutifully made in front of the customer during non-peak days of Monday through Wednesday.
I feel The Daily would be a reformed alcoholic’s unhappy place.
I go the whole hog and sample a molecular cocktail called Oriental Passion, which comprises kaffir lime leaves that are first muddled then combined with dry ice to produce a heady smoke. This is then tipped swiftly in a glass of vodka then covered for a minute to allow the smoke to rise and settle within the glass.This expert technique utilises chemistry to identify what goes into a drink to make it appealing – first the diner’s sense of smell should be aroused. Combining the leaves with dry ice emits an aroma which whets the appetite for the drink.
The result is an intoxicating, multi-layered beverage which is infused with subtle flavours of passion fruit and basil. Its refined, sophisticated tones serve as a dire warning that I’ll never be able to imbibe a simple vodka and OJ again.
The smoothness of the drink makes it dangerously simple to order another, and another, and another.
My new mantra is ordering dishes I generally dislike or do not eat, to see if they’re good enough to convert me. This also includes vegetarian fare, which I generally view as a side character rather than the hero.
Based on recommendation, I reluctantly order the lemon pepper fish, described as grilled basa. With its soft, delicate and somewhat bland flesh, basa is a fish I generally shy away from eating; under-cooked, it has a slimy texture, overcooked, it turns to cardboard.
The Indian basa I have so far experienced is usually drowned in overpowering masala to compensate for the lack of taste. With a sense of gloomy Pavlovian expectation, I assumed no different with the dish I bravely ordered. Au contraire!
Perched in front of me, prettily garnished with lime and parsley, were basa pieces grilled to absolute perfection with no hint of slime or cardboard. The lightness of the flesh was showcased utilising the bare minimum ingredients.
The complementary caponata sauce was similar to a low-spice Arrabiata sauce which contained chunky aubergine and cherry tomato. The texture and multidimensional aspect of the sauce gave the fish personality, which was rounded off with the tartness of the lime.
Next up: pork, lamb and beef sliders. The pork consist of minced pork patty with spicy barbeque sauce, gherkins, iceberg lettuce and cheddar cheese. The sauce certainly has a kick to it, so much so that the faint-hearted would be uncomfortable. The meat somehow does not have much flavour. I move on.
The lamb sliders are very much an Indian-ised version of the mutton kebab and mint chutney combo, with pickled cucumber, iceberg lettuce and cheddar cheese. The meat has a genuine lamb flavour and the tried and tested combination of lamb with mint has a comforting familiarity, but I was expecting a taste which was a little more innovative and
Finally, I dig into the beef sliders. BINGO! If this were a whole burger, I’d guzzle it down in a second. The meat is pleasingly cow-like. In fact, I have full faith in fact that no buffalos were harmed in the making of this mini-burger.
Specifically made with tenderloin and prepared with home-made mustard mayonnaise, caramelised onions, gherkins and cheddar cheese, this is the authentic, continental mini-burger I have been waiting for.
I spy the pepperoni pizza on the menu and go in for the kill. The Diavola is simply prepared with pepperoni, olives and cheese, however the quality of the pepperoni is outstanding.
Care has been taken to ensure the salami is of an international standard and the toppings are generous. I can safely say this is one of the very, very few bona-fide pepperoni pizzas in Mumbai.
On the other side, the requisite vegetarian pizza. The Primavera features a satisfying Mediterranean spread of artichokes, sundried tomato, spinach, olives and cheese; lots to occupy the mind and distract from the fact that it is meatless.
Proud of my new avatar, I am urged to try the vegetarian moussaka as a main course. As an avid lover of Greek cuisine, I am keen to sample the Daily’s interpretation of an ethnic dish which is not Indian.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised. Firmly nestled on a bed of cheese sauce and again topped with melted cheese, stacks of layered aubergine and tomato fit so cheerfully together that it seems like one should never neglect to utilise them in a moussaka.
Admittedly, I did grow tired of the no-meat element towards the end, wistfully envisaging a ground beef sauce, but it held my attention for a good five bites, which is a record for a vegetarian main course.
The glorious abundance of cheese saw me through each layer.
The Daily Bandra has put much thought into catering to discerning members of the Bandra cool crowd who want to sample more than just basic pub food and drinks.
From a social standpoint, it works hard to spread the message of positivity: heavy on social media, the restaurant’s Facebook page merrily spouts ‘Daily Droplets of Joy’ to its followers, spreading feel-good news from around the world.
The Daily Bandra goes a step further still as more than just a place to eat, with a weekly event called ‘Thursdays Fam Jam’ which encourages interest in the art of film, art and music.
The manager and several staff members of the restaurant are national award-winners in the fields of mixology and bartending. Clearly, the intention is to only work with the best.
Ambience 9, Food, 8.5. A pleasing experience overall.
The Daily is located behind Shopper’s Stop, SV Road, Bandra West.
Photo credits: timescity.com, burrp.com, thetelegraph.co.uk, cookingwithmelody.com,