Review Food

Chennai’s Bass & Soda serves light cocktails with trap music and ’80s rock

Soda-based cocktails and carefully curated playlists define the Bass & Soda experience, good for both busy weeknights and weekends

Bass & Soda promises three floors of just that — bass aka music, and soda-based cocktails deemed appropriate for weeknights and mid-office brunches by mixologist Rahul Siva. When we walk in on an early Monday night, we find the ground floor’s leather-finish sofas still awaiting their 9 pm family dinner crowd, and the rooftop unopened for operations. But the first floor, even at 7.30 pm on a weekday, is a solid mood. And the mood is the Eighties.

Late 1970s as well, to be honest. Our ears prick up at Gloria Gaynor’s spirited ‘I will survive’ and stay that way for the rest of the night, thanks to manager Abdul Rahman’s playlist, featuring everyone from Bees Gees and The Bangles to Modern Talking and Michael Jackson. And not once — I repeat, not once — do we have to shout to make ourselves heard. Are you reading this, every other lounge in Chennai?

Pick your night
  • Mondays – Rock and retro
  • Tuesdays – Old school hiphop, pop, commercial
  • Wednesdays – Hiphop and trap
  • Thursdays – Old school and new school hiphop, Raggaeton
  • Fridays and Saturdays – Bollywood, pop, R&B, trap, hiphop
  • Sundays – Funk and commercial music

It is hard not to relax after a hard Monday, when your cocktail arrives just as ‘Manic Monday’ starts playing in commiseration. The IT crowd on this stretch of the expressway — fairly close to Tidel Park — seems to have picked up on this, because the lounge steadily fills up with loose-collared office-goers, friend groups of all genders, and even that one frustrated executive nursing a lone whisky in a corner.

You don’t have to stick to whisky. The cocktails we order arrive like tributes to a Hawaiian summer. A sunset-red watermelon basil gingerita has enough vodka to make me happy, but also enough ginger to mask my beloved watermelon. The pineapple grenadine soda is also misbalanced: here, the grenadine overpowers everything else, so all we taste is syrupy sweetness. Dill orange soda, however, is just right. Fresh, citrusy, light and the colour of sunshine.

On the side, we have chilli chinga rolls: spring rolls packed tight with light vegetables and heavy cheese. There is nothing dramatic about these little rolls — each is simple, crisp and non-oily. Even the cheese refrains from spurting out at first bite. I could take confidence lessons from these understated, delicious rolls.

The Andhra chicken roast sets a contrasting note: the first thing it does is set your mouth on fire. In a very good way. Soft and deep-fried, these fiery red platefuls are served with a crunchy sprinkling of crushed peanuts that does nothing to dissuade the heat. Because we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Bass & Soda
  • 4/312, OMR, Kottivakkam
  • Hits: Bacon cream cheese pizza, dill orange soda
  • Misses: Pineapple grenadine soda, limited dessert options
  • Meal for two: ₹2,500
  • 7548885193

“This is the first time I’m eating broccoli wantonly,” says my friend A, one of the biggest compliments a hardcore non-vegetarian can pay to a plate of greens. An exaggeration — the broccoli, caked with cream cheese, is softer than most ‘tandoori’ vegetables and though its stem looks nicely charred, it has neither the hard crunch nor the semi-burnt tartness expected from a tandoor used well. Hardly the best tandoori broccoli in town, it pales in comparison to our next starter: an entire vanjaram fish, deep-fried. It arrives gleaming with a coat of spice that is surprisingly balanced and percolates through, instead of resting on the skin. As expected, no tiny bones catch us off-guard, which is characteristic of this particular species of fish. Flat though it is, it has a slim, oily edge that is sharply crisp; everything else falls off the bone easily.

The mutton pot biryani, on the other hand, makes you put in some work. The onions are caramelised to just the right amount of sweetness, but the biryani itself needs to be mixed thoroughly before its heady aroma rises to the top and the flavour hits your palate. Like in any other dum biryani — this one is cooked in black clay pots sealed with mud and brought to the table — scooping up just the surface provides an incomplete, dissatisfying taste: it is the substance across layers that hits the spot. The meat itself, however, is quite less. You don’t want to dig through a dum biryani if you aren’t going to rewarded with generous chunks of mutton at the end.

The bacon cream cheese pizza comes to us at the same time as ‘Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters’, and now I don’t think I can ever do one without the other. The combination brings together everything that is familiar and slightly ridiculous, from the too-liberal strewing of bacon and heavily caramelised sweet onions to the laughably exciting act of — well, ghostbusting.

“This [the playlist] is nothing, you should come on Wednesdays,” says Abdul. And we can’t wait to.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:32:01 AM |

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