Archive for May, 2015


The whisky you’re drinking at Kabeela Bar & Kitchen may not be the one you ordered

If you can’t tell the difference between a good Scotch and Imperial Blue, stay away from this Parle East watering hole

kabeela bar & kitchen

kabeela interior

It was perfect – I thought I’d found the perfect bar: a small cozy place in Vile Parle East, with tasteful décor and nearly impeccable service – and I couldn’t believe what I’d walked into. Everything was neat and tidy, just the way I like it when I’m not at home, and the owner was smiling as he answered my questions. For the next few weeks Kabeela Bar & Kitchen was my second home, my secret place to which I’d escape after office hours with a book, to eat and drink and read undisturbed until the head waiter Ramesh, a stocky and pleasant fellow, wanted to know what I’d like next.

vegan dragon pom pom

The food always came according to Ramesh’s suggestions, which were of course based on my dietary preferences. The Dragon Pom Pom was a hit with me, as was the creamy Achari Mushroom. One can nurse a drink while eating but one can’t linger over food while drinking, so I’d finish the pom poms and the mushrooms in a few minutes, and register the flavours in my brain before rinsing my mouth with a large sip of my drink and getting back to the book.

vegan achari mushrooms

The last time I was there, drinking on an empty stomach because I wanted a heavy dinner towards the end of the session, I was two drinks down. Now there are three drinks I blindly order at any bar: Blender’s Pride Reserve, Signature Premier, and Antiquity Blue. It so happened that the third drink that was poured for me didn’t taste like any of them, and in fact, reminded me of poorer times. As I realized why it felt like I knew it so well, I looked up and said to Ramesh, ‘Royal Stag. You’ve given me someone else’s drink.’

thai green curry kabeela 1

Ramesh knows better than to argue with me, so after I nodded when he asked if I was sure, he sent the drink back with my waiter and followed him to the bar. This time the drink that came was Antiquity Blue, my comfort whisky. Now I wanted to sit back and forget about the silly mistake, but the manager, Suresh, a tall, hefty, mustached man, came to my table, told Ramesh to handle the family section further inside, and stood there smiling at me. It was time for dinner and I called for the Thai Green Curry, which Kabeela Bar & Kitchen makes exceptionally well, and it’s much better than their red one.

thai red curry kabeela

Ah, yes, I thought, when Suresh looked at me questioningly. I did want a final drink to go with the meal. ‘Any one of my three,’ I said to him, smiling widely.

I was in a great mood, having finished a big portion of the first nonfiction I was enjoying in a long time, and I’d knocked back six whiskies and was waiting for the food to appear.

What the waiter brought wasn’t one of my three. I looked for Suresh but he wasn’t around, and I was relieved to see Ramesh back in the outer section, and I asked him what kind of joke this was. He gave me a sorry smile and said, ‘This isn’t right either, is it?’ and took it away.

reserved table kabeela

A young waiter who had served me on a few occasions asked me, ‘Kya hua, sir?’ but I didn’t bother to answer him. He then bent forward and told me this was the sort of thing that went on when the owner wasn’t around. At Suresh’s behest, patrons would either be charged for more drinks than they’d had or be served drinks much cheaper than the brands they’d ordered.

Most people are too drunk to notice they’ve been billed for seven pegs instead of five, and sometimes they’re too proud to check the bill in front of others. And most people can’t tell an Imperial Blue from a Scotch after two large pegs. I’m no whisky connoisseur, but I’m not even most people.

family section kabeela

I refused to start eating without a Blender’s Pride Reserve; I insisted that Suresh come out of hiding and show up at my table and tell me why he thought it was a good idea to test my tasting skills; Suresh showed up to apologise and say the food and drinks were on the house.

But pay the bill I did, and as Suresh gawked on, I slipped the waiter a fifty, handed Ramesh the biggest tip he’d ever seen, and walked out of Kabeela Bar & Kitchen for the last time.

kabeela whiskyMUSIC REVIEW: Burzum‘s The Ways of Yore

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May 2015
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