Bonobo gets its curious name from an endangered ape that lives in the heart of the Congo. It hints of something unusual and intriguing, and pleasingly the bar lives up to expectations. After climbing the stairs and entering the exotic environment of Bonobo, it's quite easy to imagine yourself away from Mumbai, in a far off tropical location.
Bonobo is divided into two areas -- an outdoor dining area, and an enclosed air conditioned lounge area where a DJ spins tunes. The decor, in tones of beige, brown and green, successfully creates a jungle ambiance without being tacky. Tables are topped with thatched umbrellas, the roof lined with billowing fabric and wrought iron candelabra-style lights, and the walls stylishly painted with foliage, birds and dragonflies.
What really struck me was that although Bonobo has an unusual setting, there's something strangely comfortable about the place. I think it's got to do with the fact that despite being one of the hippest places in town, there was a refreshing absence of any self-important attitude.
There were no surly security staff (one actually smiled and made conversation with me) or barmen who took themselves too seriously. Maybe it was to do with the fact that Bonobo was celebrating its six month anniversary the night I was there, but I doubt it. Everyone seemed genuinely friendly and happy. It must be the free and sociable bonobo spirit!
If you love cocktails, you'll love Bonobo. You can tell that Bonobo is serious about its cocktails from the long tray, loaded with luscious cocktail ingredients, that lines the bar. Those who are feeling inspired can apparently help themselves to the ingredients, and craft their own cocktails.
I had a difficult time choosing from the nine house specials, 10 martinis, and 17 classic cocktails on offer. First up was a Cosmopolitan. Next came the more adventurous Expresso Martini, made from freshly brewed expresso coffee, vanilla vodka, and Irish cream. I’d always thought that cold coffee would make a good alcoholic drink. Indeed, it was the perfect pick-me-up.
For those who find that one cocktail just isn't enough, the popular classics (including Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, Pina Colada, Sangria, and Margarita) are available in huge pitchers.
Pleasingly, the cocktails are quite reasonably priced by Mumbai standards. Prices range from 250-300 rupees ($5-6) for a glass and 950-1,150 rupees ($20-25) for a pitcher. Note: Drink prices have since increased to around 400 rupees a cocktail.
Guys, don't despair, you can get a small bottle of Tiger or Kingfisher beer for 125 rupees ($2.50).
The jungle theme continues to the menu at Bonobo, which is divided into carnivore and herbivore sections. The cost of the predominantly Mediterranean fare is on par with other eateries in the Bandra area. Soups are priced at 160 rupees ($3.50), salads 200 rupees ($4), appetizers 200-380 rupees ($4-8), and mains 300-400 rupees ($6-8.50). A tantalizing variety of deserts is also available.
I ordered the bell pepper and zucchini lasagna. Served promptly, it was unexpectedly tasty and well cooked, with just the right texture and flavor.
Note: The menu has since been revised. Have a look at highlights from the tasty new Bonobo food menu.
Bonobo is located just behind KFC, on Linking Road, Bandra. It's open from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. Credit cards accepted. Phone: (22) 26055050, 26055353.