New Menu Tasting Review: Bonobo

I have been a frequent visitor to Bonobo in the last couple of years, enjoying its delicious cocktails and appetizers, so I was slightly worried when I heard they were revamping their menu; why fix something that’s not broken? I was however pleasantly surprised. They have retained many of the favourites from the old menu while making additions to it, adding a bit of Mediterranean and Mexican flair to the predominantly Italian menu.

On arriving, the staff greeted us warmly as always and showed us to our seats at a table outside which was just right for the brilliant winter weather we are currently enjoying. There we were presented with the tasting menu for the new dishes: two soups, two salads, four appetizers, five mains and two desserts. After placing our order for cocktails, we proceeded to order our food. For the soups, we had the roasted tomato and basil soup paired with a cream cheese toast and the forest mushroom and thyme soup with a cheddar cheese toast. The consistency of the soups was excellent and the toasts were paired well. The soups were piping hot, had a great presentation and unique flavours. The tomato basil soup was hearty with a nice hint of basil that was not too overpowering. The mushroom soup although tasty was a little one note for me. A little crushed pepper would have definitely enhanced the taste. Next we tried the double melon and Greek feta salad with arugula and pine nuts. The salad was perfectly dressed, the leaves were crispy and fresh and there was just the right amount of feta. For cocktails we had a mango and star anise rum based drink and the watermelon and lychee mojito. Both were simply divine and were made to order keeping our respective preferences in mind. The bartender was also more than happy to offer suggestions. The soups and salad definitely set the bar high for the rest of the meal.

For appetizers, we first tried the mezze platter. Being a dish that has the potential to be ordered plenty of times it did not live up to its expectations. The different components lacked seasoning in general. The hummus was okay. They tried to be experimental with the tzaziki sauce by adding rosemary instead of the cucumber but it was missing the acidity that was much needed. The beet and feta salad simply felt wrong and was left completely untouched. The only saving grace was the falafel which was nice and crisp. Next came the surprise of the evening: The Angry Birds meatballs – chicken meatballs dressed in BBQ sauce and topped with a jalapeno. This dish was delicious; a small succulent and juicy meatball smothered in BBQ sauce that was not too sweet and the jalapeno gave it a nice kick; definitely recommended. We also tried the garlic and cilantro prawns and calamari. This dish was good but nothing special. The calamari tasted nice but should have been more in quantity and the prawns were a bit overcooked.

The main course was a delight to taste. We ordered four dishes and barring one, we almost licked our plates clean. First let me get the bad news out of the way. The kasundhi mustard chicken with mashed potatoes had an overpowering taste of mustard that could not be escaped. It was difficult to take more than one bite. The mashed potatoes were dry and not creamy, which is how mashed potatoes are supposed to be. The other three dishes were absolutely amazing and distinctive in their tastes. The Vietnamese basa was perfectly cooked and flaky with a tangy cherry tomato sauce. The linguini was done al-dente which is refreshing as pasta can often be overcooked. The chile rellenos with chicken came with sides of Mexican dirty rice, smoky beans, salsa and sour cream. This is the Mexican dish I have been looking all over town for. The flavours were spot on. The peppers were stuffed with a mixture of chicken and salsa. The tartness of the chile paired well with the very flavourful rice and sour cream. Refried beans instead would have taken the dish to another level. The last main dish we tasted was the sinful mac and cheese with a panko parmesan crust and boy did it live up to its name! Perfect blend of noodles and cheese with the mushrooms and truffle oil gave it that hint of earthiness without being too overpowering. The flavours were unbelievable complex for such a simple dish. I would come here again just for it. Another friend of mine described it as the perfect hangover food. The orange and ginger vodka martini was absolutely yummy and provided a nice twist to a regular cocktail.

For desserts we ordered the Kahlua and Dark chocolate fondue and the banana tempura with coffee ice cream. The fondue chocolate had a nice taste to it but the consistency was not as thick as it should have been. This made it not stick to the accompaniments when they were dipped. Lack of strawberries in a chocolate fondue in this season is a big turn off for me and I was disappointed to not see any. The banana tempura was exceptional; light batter, warm fritters with the cold coffee ice cream that was presented in a coffee cup, a perfect end to our wonderful experience. All in all, the entire new menu was nicely thought out and well executed. Bonobo is definitely heading towards being the next great dinner and drinks place of Bandra.

-Triman Kohli

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