Bengaluru’s Monkey Bar makes a comeback

After shutting down for operational reasons in 2019, Monkey Bar reopened on Museum Road recently serving up manga mules, prawns kheema pao and nostalgia

October 20, 2023 01:51 pm | Updated 01:51 pm IST

  • Restaurant Monkey Bar
  • Cuisine Restobar
  • Cost ₹₹₹
  • Address SEE MAP
Monkey Bar, Bengaluru

Monkey Bar, Bengaluru | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

My initial visit to Monkey Bar coincided with an era when Bengaluru was still referred to as Bangalore, and I was in my 20s. Over the years, both the city and I have changed significantly, and fortunately, Monkey Bar has evolved alongside us. The bar made its debut in Bengaluru in 2012, it had two branches then, one on Wood Street and the other in Indiranagar. Those were the days when we all had our local addas or go-to hangout spots, especially after work.

The ambience was cosy and reassuring, and one of the things we, as ladies, collectively missed when it temporarily closed its doors in 2019, was the free drinks on Wednesday ladies’ nights — a reliable remedy for midweek blues.

Watch | Inside the new Monkey Bar, Bangalore
| Video Credit: Special Arrangement

The bar became a sanctuary. No one was around to shush us as we indulged in Monkey Bar pav bhajis paired with the manga mule, the bar’s creative take on the Moscow mule cocktail. We danced with our slightly askew heels from Commercial Street, flaunting skinny jeans, chandelier earrings, and that iconic front hair bump, behaving as if no one were watching.

MoBar grazing board at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru

MoBar grazing board at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Methi-spiced prawns at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru

Methi-spiced prawns at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

And now, just as the hair bump has made a resurgence as an “It girl” trend on Instagram, so has Monkey Bar in namma ooru. Situated on Museum Road in Bengaluru, the new Monkey Bar has evolved much like its patrons, who are now in their thirties. The menu no longer exclusively offers bar bites and mains; it now includes small plates featuring Tik Tok-famous chilli oil edamame and zesty lime chilli corn ribs, alongside cherished classics like the pav bhaji and the manga mule cocktail.

The new Monkey Bar, spread over 3,700 sqft over a single floor with 100 covers has transitioned from its former, darker, evening-centric ambiance to create an all-day destination complete with a lush terrace and a coffee studio. The colour palette now features vibrant oranges, yellows, sage greens, and generous amounts of white, complemented by prints and textures in line with the urban tropical theme. If you happen to appreciate a piece of wall art, you can scan the QR code next to it to learn more about it.

Sabina Singh, the design director of the Olive Group of Restaurants, collaborated with the WDA design studio and Raseel Gujral Ansal of Casa Pop to breathe new life into the bar’s aesthetics.

The menu has many South Indian food items from various regions of South India such as fire pork, a Coorg-inspired crispy fried pork dish. Paddus with a twist is a variation of paniyarams with onion, coriander, and chilli. The selection also includes prawns kheema pao, juicy Lucy slider, and mains like puliogare rice and bhindi raita, with Coorg pandi curry served with akki roti.

The methi-spiced prawns offer a desi twist on buttery prawns, infused with Gujarati masala and served in a skillet with crusty country bread. The corn ribs deliver a juicy experience, while the crispy fried pork, adorned with crushed chillies and lemon, maintains a delightful simplicity, making it the menu’s standout feature.

Curry at 9 cocktail, at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru

Curry at 9 cocktail, at Monkey Bar, Bengaluru | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

On the flip side, the paddus were a bit of a letdown, primarily due to the underwhelming onion and chilli chutneys. The Malabar egg roast left something to be desired as the Kerala appam it was paired with, had an unfortunate papad-like brittleness and some unwanted burns.

While there were a few disappointments with the food, the cocktails truly stole the show. The OG manga mule combined the flavours of green mango murabba, lime, and ginger ale with a splash of vodka. The hey daisy served up a zesty mix of tamarind, lime, agave, and kafir, all harmonising with tequila. As for the church street corner, it offered a playful twist on a childhood snack, featuring a blend of bird’s eye chilli and pink guava infused with tequila, reminiscent of fresh guavas topped with a hint of chilli.

To conclude the dining experience, try the snickery monkey, a playful twist on the Snickers bar, presented on a stick and served cold with a touch of dry ice for added flair. The second option, cookie & cream, features a baked Nutella cookie served alongside a scoop of fig and black pepper ice cream.

As I stepped into the bar, a wave of novelty surrounded me - the interiors, the menu, everything felt refreshingly new. But then, amidst the unfamiliar, the sweet strains of ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles, as played on the saxophone by Algari Joyce, wafted through the air. Suddenly, I felt an odd sense of comfort.

Monkey Bar
Hits: Fire pork, Manga Mule, Church Steet Corner
Misses: Paddus with a Twist, appam
Wallet factor: A meal for two with alcohol costs ₹3,000 plus taxes
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