4 March 2015
Level 4, Select Citywalk mall, Saket, Delhi.
16,000 square feet of opulence, back for a second go.
Yep, it’s back! If you visited during its initial stint, you might’ve wondered where B-Bar had gotten to. A little hiatus, a new menu, new chefs, and a new no-Bollywood music policy later, the opulent Orientalist restaurant is back, and it is as big as ever.
First, a little history: B-Bar is, despite it’s confusing moniker, part of the global franchise, which was given life in Paris in 1996 by entrepreneur Raymond Visan. Soundtracked by those Claude Challe mix compilations (you can pretend you hated them, but you know you had them on regular rotation at some point), the bar and the brand were both massive hits in the noughties, and landed on Indian shores a decade later, only to close doors after a year in, and now reopen, remixed and (slightly) reincarnated.
If it wasn’t already evident, B-Bar is massive. It’s like eating in a dimly-lit airport hangar, albeit one outfitted in a mash-up of pan-Asian flamboyance; sprawling chinoserie couches, four metre-high samurai statues, and dark lacquer tables vie for attention with monumental chandeliers and gargantuan gold idols borrowed from the panoply of Asian faiths. Opium use is currently discouraged, but their sake list is long and their cocktails are pretty good, and we’ll definitely be back for another round of their vodka, Thai basil and fresh pineapple drinks (they call them “Majestic”, and we’d tend to agree).
The food menu is as vast as the space B-Bar inhabits, starring a pan-Asian spread that takes pains to include extensive offerings from every single region. There’s sushi, sashimi and robatayaki, Thai and Malay curries, sprinklings of Sichuan, a dim sum menu, Vietnamese rolls, Singaporean prawns, and kimchi-fried rice, and while these include-everything menus usually fail to please, we’ve got to give credit where it’s due, because almost everything we ordered was pretty good.
Top marks to the buttery unagi sashimi (Rs 555 for five pieces) and the “new style” salmon tataki (basically sliced very thin) that was dressed in a tart yuzu miso vinaigrette (Rs 875), and if you like something crunchy with your cocktails, the shrimp tempura with spicy mayo (Rs 855) will both satisfy and surprise with its large portion. We skipped over the menu’s lowest point - the "taco papdi chaat" – in favour of fairly flavoursome, but largely forgettable, dimsum.
Stay well away from the devil chicken in angry sauce (Rs 855), with its ill-advised and goopy dressing of yoghurt, sambal and Sriracha, and instead try the lamb chimichurri from the robatayaki section of the menu, and the fresh stir fried shitake with spinach and pok choy (Rs 425) which we wiped clean. And if you fancy dinner and a show, there’s also a teppanyaki counter, where you can watch your dinner being tossed about lickety-split before landing neatly on your plate.
B-Bar isn’t cheap, and you can expect to drop upwards of Rs 5,000 for a meal for two (to include a couple of drinks), but we did spot some fairly thrifty lunch deals on the menu’s last pages if you wanted to pop in for a sampling minus the high spend. It is as-yet unclear how long B-Bar’s second incarnation will endure, seeing as on the evening we visited only two other tables in the vast room were occupied, but we can imagine the theatrical interiors of his pan-Asian palace playing host to club nights, and still leaving room to spare.