Free Press Journal

Mumbai Food Review: Why Neos in Kurla fails to impress


Strap: For a new club, the reasonable food and fun place it offers to unwind, Neos has a lot of clean-up to do to hit its potential, finds ANUPAMA CHANDRA

Food is always on my mind, but in the middle of the week after a day packed with lots of activities, nothing allures the mind more than a comfy place to unwind to really good food and some awesome music. Our last stop for the day was Phoenix Marketcity at Kurla and when the hunger pangs surfaced, the new club Neos beckoned us to try it out for fit.

Lounge with the young

Eight pm on the scene club on a weekday is early, so gaining entry was a breeze. We were seated in one of the private alcoves opposite the DJ console that afforded a wide view of the spacious club. The lounge is designed to accord you privacy to enjoy with your brood, aptly designed for the just-out-of-college and new-to-jobs crowd that unwinds in bulk, and yet not have a tough time hailing an attendant when you need more food and drink. There is also a designated smoking zone. They have plans of upcoming music events including a bunch of popular DJs, again, a very young crowd-pulling choice.

The starters story

The menu has a sound selection of cocktails, mocktails and finger food across Continental, Indian and Oriental cuisines, with some mains thrown in. We placed our first order of drinks and eats and settled to groove to the house music. The Caribbean Pirate was the first drink to greet us that evening and made a tasty first impression with its bright flavour profile. However, their signature mocktail, Neos Current took the lead in this round. Served in a bulb-shaped tumbler, this black currant based mocktail, with splashes of cranberry juice and lime juice, was a divine shade of purple and boasted of a subtle enjoyable flavour that I would not miss ordering on my next visit.

We were soon joined by an order of Jalapeno Cheese Poppers that were run-of-the-mill. While they were well done with the right burst of cheese, they sorely missed the jalapeno kick. The accompanying dip was more distracting than contributing to the taste. Mushroom lovers lend your ears, as the Tandoori Dhingra was on point. Having waded through tons of mushroom starters that had either turned rubbery due to overcooking or were a tad raw, a single bite of this dish had us in dhingra heaven for all the three minutes we allowed the dish to last on the platter. Yes, it was gone…in 180 seconds.

Our host, who turned out to be the cashier moonlighting as one, strongly recommended the Wasabi Mango Prawns over the Butter Garlic or Grilled Prawns, and it was the best decision of the evening. Conceptualised as an amuse-bouche, the prawns sat in a tiny pool of mango wasabi inside a spoon and was meant to be had at one go to get the complete experience. The flavour profile of this starter was astounding as the mango wasabi paired well with the fruits of sea, and it would have been made even better had it been the right size to be had at one go.

Round two troubles

Our eats and drinks soon needed replenishing and the evening turned at this point for the worse. Blushing Lady was a cocktail that took us by surprise by its sheer inventive zest for flavour, though my dinner partner was not as impressed. It is a drink for the discerning and loud cheers to the bartender for that. The Neos Wonder was a hulking presence of a cocktail but the only flavour to stand out was orange, with the alcohol potency complete suspect.

The Blushing Lady

The Beetroot and Pear Salad sounded perfect for the warm evening and we asked for it but it was missing in action that day as was the Awadhi Mutton Shami.

We were being ushered towards more mushroom and prawn territories, but our heart was set on trying more varieties and we settled for a Greek Salad and Nizami Mutton Seekh instead; our friendly host managed to convince us to also try their popular crowd pleaser, Dahi ke Kebab.

Dahi Ke Kebab

The Greek Salad was the lowest point of the evening, being over-seasoned and with a Feta cheese that was totally off. We couldn’t go in for a second bite even when we have strong views about not wasting food. The Nizami Mutton Seekh was more moist than that of many a dhabas that I frequent, yet it lacked that certain punch of flavour that would elevate it to the next level. The Dahi ke Kebabs were not the melt-in-the-mouth variety, instead were so cloyingly sweet that they couldn’t be repaired with the dip either.

Greek Salad

Our choice of dessert was taking a rain check that day so we settled for the ever-dependable Walnut brownie with vanilla ice cream, and came away happy. The crumbly brownie was a delight and the chocolate syrup just tied it all up.

Some points to look at

Our attendants were very attentive but could do with more training in terms of serving food. Every time we were served, our cutlery ended up on the floor. The food is served in quantities to satiate a group of friends, many cocktails were served in huge tumblers too, but the taste would need more tuning.

As the evening lengthened, the music changed hue to popular dance numbers, perfect for all who enjoy dancing. Believe us when we say you could not find an inch on the dance floor on a weekday. Yet when the disco lights came on, every crack on the boards, every stain of the floor, and every tear in the upholstery lit up for all to see. Even the washrooms needed an urgent do-over.

Neos has huge potential to spruce up its F&B and overall silhouette in order to be hailed as the go-to place to party this side of the town. For the time being, we would go to Neos to drink, dance and have select finger food.

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