Ever since Blue Frog shut down, there hasn’t been a place for live gigs, especially those that focus on jazz, blues, and bebop in the city. Thank god for the Bluebop Cafe in Khar, Mumbai that opened two weeks ago. Both the music scene and gig menu will see a big difference in the coming months. This new venue will offer sophisticated food options, great ambience, no space to jostle and less intrusion via spaced-out tables and booths that encourage privacy. The menu veers around artisanal Italian-American cuisine with healthy fare.
The club favourites are stunning cocktails and new-age drinks, but the main focus is on the performance space that heavily promotes the golden era of jazz from the 1920s to the 1960s covering blues to bebop along with a good dose of classical. Founded by creative siblings Eesha Sukhi and Amar Sukhi, this space is all about recreating classic vintage music for modern times. “I’ve grown up listening to Jazz and it’s the kind of music that I’ve grown to love and appreciate. My sense is that we become the music we consume by internalising those messages and its underlying aesthetic. Jazz and the blues are amazingly beautiful, intelligent and improvisational combining complex harmony with unforgettable melodies. We need more jazz in our lives,” says Amar Sukhi. The menu is specially created by Chef Saurabh Raturi whose inspiration came from jazz cafes in New York.
The drinks were the work of the popular mixologist Dinesh Mondkar. You can expect interesting fare like the Espresso Martini, Go Bananas (sous-vide whiskey, banana with a hint of caramel, banana Saccharum and orange bitters), and the Hibiscus Gimlet made with an in-house prepared hibiscus cordial with gin. In fact, the Hibiscus gimlet was subtle and easily slipped into our favourites. The fact that these drinks are made to suit the music is applaudable, it’s always the little details. We also highly recommend the Spiced Paloma that comes with tequila, spiced grapefruit cordial, lime juice, and tonic – just right for the weather this year. Then, it’s the usual caprioskas, bellinis, and negronis for the regulars.
The Italian American menu surprisingly isn’t busy or heaped up with too many options. There are vegan and gluten-free options with seafood bisque, mozzarella balloon salad, and fresh barley and millet salad. We had the Cream of Broccoli soup that was just plain, comforting with just the right bit of flavouring, but we somehow expected more punch. The millet salad is best eaten when you are on a diet, flavoursome and light. The appetizers are easy on the palette and very delicately cooked. The Arancini was our favourite, perfect bar snack with the best crunch in it. The home-made tomato sauce added the much-needed punch. The other appetizers like Jerk Chicken Tacos, Asparagus, and Polenta, Crispy Calamari Crocanti are perfect to pair with the bar drinks. Another favourite was the Asparagus and Polenta, the vegetables were crunchy and fresh and the polenta, definitely creamy. The pizzas in their main course are the usual freshly baked New York Style Pizza like Pepperoni and chicken, the crust is crispy and the pizza baked to softness – it’s just wholesome comfort food. The spice levels are very low and in some places it’s nil.
The main course tip-toe around crowd favourites like Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Norwegian Salmon and Lobster Thermidor – all well-done and beautifully flavoured. The grilled chicken dish was perfect for those wanting classic fare and the barbeque sauce was packed with flavour – just so light and homey. The desserts come laden with Tiramisu, matcha mousse, and profiteroles. The profiteroles were perfect, just right and crispy on the outside while soft on the inside.
The portions we were served were generous, just enough for a party of two. The presentation was basic, we felt it needed more punch. The winner here is definitely the attention given to the vegan and gluten-free options.
The interiors by architect Bina Shah along with the technical expertise of the well-known acoustical consultant, Kapil Thirwani from Munro Acoustics LLP helped design sound beautifully for this space. Attention was given to the materials used for the ceiling, pillars and glass panels and that means that the acoustics remain uniform in the 65-70 seater space. The music is what everyone will look forward to. The cafe offers great bands and artists to perform on weekends with sporadic gigs along the week depending on who is passing through. There is space for host curated jam sessions too.
Where: 318, Satyam Building, Linking Rd, Khar, Khar West, Mumbai
Contact: 022-62366444/ 9372202586
Opening hours: 12:00 noon to 1 pm; Open all days of the week.
Recommended dishes: Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Norwegian Salmon and Arancini
Price: Rs 2,500 for two, exclusive of taxes
Noise levels: good
All images: Courtesy Bluebop Cafe