Mumbai which is renowned for its vibrant pubs and full-of-life lounges, unfortunately Andheri’s Barcode 09 fails to impress Varsha Naik
When a place proclaims to be British-styled, I expected a cozy, wooden décor and beer on tap, but alas, Barcode 09 disappoints with its black and white walls and clinical vibe. Located in the same compound as Poptates in Andheri West, the entrance could easily be mistaken for a closed shutter, and missed if you were not looking hard enough.
The idea of the barcode theme was intriguing, but the end result on the walls alternately threw up images of a piano in my head, or an abstract illustration of a big-city skyline. Here, I give the designers some leeway as the imagery is not an easy one to portray, and highly open to interpretation. Perhaps the current look works for some people, but it is also sure to throw off many who walk in.
The bar opens into the lounge section and a separate section for hookah lies on the other side of see-through glass. This is great for people like me who don’t appreciate going home at the end of the night smelling of smoke, and as such this will be a massive attraction for patrons of the Arab-style smoking tobacco, of which they have an extensive selection.
It saddened me to see images of Bob Marley and Elvis Presley on the wall – make no mistake I love both the legends – but would have preferred to see silhouettes of the likes of The Beatles, Sting, or Pink Floyd adorning the walls of this British lounge. Surprising also was the fact that the wall behind the bar had very interesting looking wooden crates mounted on the wall behind it, clearly for displaying bottles, but on this particular Wednesday evening, they lay bare and looking rather forlorn.
As we settled down to order, the first point of disappointment soon presented itself. When a place, that knows there is a review table seated, sends over a waiter who has no knowledge of the menu, cannot really communicate clearly or understand our questions and is barely audible, I’m not sure it it’s indifference or arrogance. I don’t blame the server though, as it appears the establishment does not take seriously the training of its service staff, which is a crucial factor in providing a pleasant experience to guests. Such a shame that it was ignored – this alone would have made a world of difference to our experience.
While the modified version of the Pirate Mule I ordered, keeping the dark rum and without ginger, was tasty you could barely taste the alcohol, which was regrettable and the gin Koyoto No 2 was equally average. The true test of drinks in any bar is a lemon margarita, and unfortunately it was sweet and therefore an epic fail – so bad, that I left the drink on the table, and I’m not one to waste alcohol. At first, I thought it was the mix on the glass rim which might have contained salt and sugar, but the drink itself had sugar or some kind of syrup in it that made it undrinkable. Another annoying trait of bars is having beers on the menu that you don’t have available to serve after claiming to have a wide range of beer – the standard 3-4 Indian beers do NOT count as wide range, please take note.
The saving grace for the bar is that all their whiskey-based cocktails were a smashing success and some of the nicer tasting ones I’ve had in a long time. The Old Fashioned with a twist of chilli gave a nice burn that left us feeling warm inside and out. A second surprise cocktail that was brought over to the table, also with whiskey as its base, was delicious as well and we fought over it quite to bit to see who would get to savour its flavour.
I talk about food last because it was pretty much the same as any other bar or lounge one may wander into. The vegetarian at the table was not pleased with the Tandoori Stuffed Mushrooms and Paneer Ajwaini, and neither were the rest of us non-vegetarians. The Garlic Chicken in Pepper Sauce passed our taste bud test, but the Peri Peri Prawns, while flavourful were a bit too rubbery for my liking. We didn’t even venture to the main course after this unsatisfying experience with the starters. I did, however, like the idea of white plates for vegetarians, and black plates for non-vegetarians – which makes the life of service staff and guest alike so much easier. Here’s some food for thought, how about yin-yang styled black and white plates for those who want to eat both!
A lounge experience is supposed to be relaxing and comfortable, where you can interact with each other easily and unwind after a long day, or get pepped up for a fun night. It’s a real pity when only two tables are occupied, and you still have to yell at each other over the music that’s too loud for so early on in the evening. When someone notices that staff is hanging around smoking hookah through the glass wall, that’s very off-putting and a definite reason to not return to this venue. Barcode 09, you have some potential and a few promising qualities but you need a serious look-see in the mirror to redeem yourself in my eyes.