Loves and loathes
What has been trending all through 2019 is a shift from five-star hotel venues to standalone restaurants and lounges. Of course, huge banquet spaces have not lost out for big events and awards have to be staged there. But the smaller and more intimate affairs do look nice at smaller spaces. For one thing, guests simply love the varied decor and other details of these spaces, some modern, others with old-world charm or with quirky details. The mood is merry at these events and guests get a chance to sample the product or services on offer and meet the people concerned. What we loathe is the prolific rise of ‘food bloggers’ at restaurants and lounges. They seem to be more interested in clicking pictures of the food than in actual sampling of the cuisine. Most of them are youngsters and one wonders what they ever write in their ‘review.’ We hear that many restaurants are no longer encouraging this new breed which is a good thing. Good food must be appreciated by good people and not by click-crazy chaps.
It’s a fashion feast
Fashion passion ruled the year 2019. Besides two editions of Lakme Fashion Week, it was time for the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour. On a smaller scale, but more intimate and interactive, was the monthly Olive Canvas with Ranjit Rodricks featuring various designers like Aartivijay Gupta, Babita Malkani, Summer Barn and Geeta Handa with wines and spirits flowing along with the fashion. And the fashion continued with pop-ups at various venues across town and the opening of new stylish stores. At the recently-opened Uru, a multi-designer made-in-India store in Navi Mumbai, owned by Priyanka Prasann, it was time to witness Gauahar Khan’s foray into fashion with her label Gauahargeous.
While restaurants and lounges may come and go some seem to go on forever. Yes, anniversary parties did take one on a nostalgic trip especially when they have been around for quite some time. Olive Bar & Kitchen celebrated its 19th anniversary with AD Singh and wife Sabina hosting two evenings for their friends and regular patrons. The Mediterranean-styled eatery and bar was abuzz with friendly frenzy as guests enjoyed the drinks, snacks and dinner. Meanwhile, Goa Portuguesa celebrated its 31st anniversary with a party hosted by Suhas Awchat and wife Deepa. It attracted old-timers, meaning those who had perhaps attended the launch 31 years ago, like Alyona and Sanjeev Kapoor, Ashok Salian, Dr. Sandesh Mayekar, Dr. Jamuna Pai, Gogi Singh, Bharat Dhabolkar, Sonali and Roopkumar Rathod. How time flies was the refrain of the night!
Peas and apples
It was been a spirited time all through the year. Besides the wine and dine evenings, it was time for some unusual and special spirits to be sipped and savoured around town. For example, you heard it was peas and not potatoes that were used to make Rosella Gold Vodka from Uzbekistan at the evening hosted by All Things Nice at Olive with cocktails called Garden of Eden, Tea Sour and Uzbeki Mule. Almost the end of the year saw the launch of two completely unfamiliar spirits. At Luna Nudo at St Regis launched was Jiangxiaobai Pure, the first premium baijiu or clear alcohol made from sorghum in China. It was enjoyed as shots or in cool cocktails. And at Keiba at the racecourse introduced was Three Oaks Cider, the cider prepared from apples sourced from the Adelaide Hills. And the Aussie connect was represented by Australian Trade Commissioner Dr. Mark Morley and others.
Cheer over the city
Someone remarked that you should always make it a point to attend the launch of a bar/lounge/ nightspot if you are invited … for if you postpone the visit the next thing you hear is that it has shut down! Well, that may be too harsh but the fact is that so many places have opened and closed soon. But the cheer continues with bar launches around town that turn out to be real cheerful affairs. Bandra Reclamation got busier with the launch of 73 degrees bar and bistro, the name denoting the longitude line of the globe that passes through the east of Mumbai. Guests spotted on opening night included Raj Kaushal, Dino Morea, Candice Pinto, Kim Sharma and Teena Singh. Another cheerful launch was that of Shibui, the bar located inside Shizusan at High Street Phoenix. And guests lived it up with cool cocktails with names like Jamun Club and Shibui Sour.