Food

Beertails and no-nonsense finger food

Retox, the popular bar chain from Pune makes a boozy city debut in Andheri

Several drinks down after a night out in town, many of us (like me!) have had that drunken conversation of vowing to open a bar with a friend. While most of these drunken plans usually don’t work out, Kaustubh Naik and Kaustubh Lakaswar, are friends who managed to make this a reality. The duo met in Manchester where they were working and studying.

Once back in India, the Naik and Lakasar opened Retox in Pune in 2016, and three outlets later, they are now ready to test the Mumbai restaurant scene with their first outpost in Andheri. While Lakaswar is an engineer, Naik is a hospitality graduate and has worked at different bars and restaurants before. Both hail from Nagpur but chose to open in Pune which made sense for a cocktail bar. The focus on cocktails is thanks to Naik, who is also a mixologist. To reiterate this, the bar even has attached tables for seating.

Universal appeal

A glance at the food menu and we realise that Retox (which the owners say is the opposite of detox), like many other bars in the locality, follows a tested formula: a multi-cuisine menu. There are fries, soups, nachos, stir fry, a host of chicken appetisers, a tandoor section, Asian curries, and even different Indian thalis. Naik and Lakasar are appealingly honest about their food menu choices. So rather than force pushing a hipster theme – trust us on this one, from women empowerment to millennial-friendly, we have seen promoters forcibly push many facile ideas. “I wanted to focus on the cocktails as that’s what I love working on. We have realised that when it comes to food at bars, people always love familiar flavours. So we decided to stick to mainstream choices, with a few tweaks of our own,” Naik explains. One bite into their Tandoori Chicken Lollipops (₹329), and we immediately reach for the second piece. Naik adds that the Mumbai menu also has a bacon section owing to its popularity in the city. A great bar munchie from this section is the Bacon-Thecha Cheese Toast (₹329), which is a bacon variation of the popular roadside sandwich offering.

Cheap and cheerful

The beer lover in me gets excited at spotting a beertails section in their alcohol menu, where the beer cocktails are available by the glass and as a 1.5 litre jug. “Back in Manchester, the bar I used to work at used to have beertails as there were many college kids around, and not all women liked beer. So beertails were both cheap and popular back then,” Naik explains as he serves Snakebite (₹199 for a glass), a vodka, blackcurrant and lager cocktail which is very easy to wash down within a minute. If you love a tall drink, ask for their Quarter Island Iced Tea which has 180 ml of a combination of vodka, rum, gin and tequila. “Except for the LITs, we have no classic cocktails on the menu as we want to showcase our signature cocktails. Of course, our bartenders are skilled enough to make one on request,” says Naik as we try The Retox (₹449) from their signature list. A refreshing gin cocktail in every sip, this concoction of cucumber, pineapple juice, basil and some sweetness from elderflower and sugar will make you call for round two. If you prefer sweet cocktails, try the Caramelised Rum Punch, a rum cocktail with pineapple juice, candied orange, cinnamon sugar and brown sugar which is caramelised for you at the table. For more theatrics, order the Smoked Whisky Sour (₹449) which is smoked on the table. As we continue to try the cocktails, one snack we keep going back to is their Roti Chips (₹179). Sprinkled with green chilli thecha, the fried roti crisps manage to keep us away from our beloved fries (in which they offer three varieties).

If you love trying new cocktails and are looking for no-nonsense bar grub which will make you feel at home, Retox is where you should head for.

Retox, Ghanshyam Chamber, Veera Industrial Estate, Lokhandwala, Andheri West; 50646414; 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 5:57:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/beertails-and-no-nonsense-finger-food/article31062700.ece

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