Inside 266- The Wine Room & Bar| All the Deets
Wine bars seem to be the latest trend in Mumbai with The Wine Rack in Lower Parel and now 266- The Wine Room and Bar in Bandra. I’m a huge (that’s an understatement) wine lover and decided to check out 266 with a friend of mine last week. The location is slightly off-putting, on Linking Road next to Shopper’s Stop but once you get past that, the venue is actually quite charming. It’s small and dimly lit with various kinds of seating. We were seated in a wooden booth which seemed more apt for a Chinese restaurant but could see millennial inspired mint green, velvet sofas along one wall which suited the ambience more.
The manager who served us was very well informed and told us that this restaurant was conceptualized by the chef, Sahil Arora, who has adapted the modern culinary techniques he learnt at Le Cordon Bleu to the Indian scenario. The menu is predominantly European with some Asian flavours thrown in, something I’m always a little weary of.
We started with the Quinoa, Kale, Beetroot, Balsamic and Cream Cheese Salad which looked quite lack lustre when it arrived and the flavour was similar. It seems like the quinoa hadn’t been drained because it was soggy, the leaves weren’t crunchy and even the dressing lacked any distinct flavour. Upon the manager’s recommendation, we also ordered the Mushroom, Black Rice, Soy and Kale Salad, a warm salad he said most people loved. I actually found myself wondering where the egg fried rice was to accompany this soupy, overly spiced ‘salad’.
Next, we tried the Chicken on Toast, not sure what to expect. This was a ghee roast style chicken served on, you guessed it, toast. It was so spicy I couldn’t take more than a bite and my companion agreed that the spice overpowered any other flavours that might have been present. Next up were the Prawns, Tomato, Garlic and Capers, which we really enjoyed. The prawns were cooked in a buttery, garlic infused broth and were prettily decorated with bright cherry tomatoes. Excited with our first success, we then tried the Vegetable Arancini with Barley, Pepper and Chilli Mayo, and were disappointed once more. I find that unless you make arancini really well, you shouldn’t. This one lacked acidity and was very stodgy, a risk you take when serving a dish like this.
For our last appetizer, we tried one of the specials, Lamb Meatballs, Rosemary with Tomato Sauce. I think this dish should have been called simply rosemary because the herb (which generally has a tendency to be very strong) was so overpowering, you really couldn’t taste anything else.
Don’t stop reading just yet! We got really lucky with our main courses, I promise.
For my main, I ordered the Braised Lamb Shank, Creamy Polenta and Leeks while my friend ordered the classic Arrabbiata with Penne, Eggplant and Homemade Tomato Sauce. Both these dishes were really tasty. The lamb literally fell of the bone and was well-seasoned while the polenta, which I usually don’t enjoy, was delicious. It was creamy, flavoursome and went perfectly with the meat. The pasta, though not cooked al dente, was still delicious. Big chunks of eggplant offset the slightly spicy sauce and created a well-rounded, yummy plate of food.
Hoping to end on a high note, we ordered the Dark Chocolate and Olive Oil Mousse with a Salted Nut Praline and Crumb. Unfortunately, the kitchen had made some changes to this dish which weren’t mentioned on the menu. The mousse was actually a chocolate and orange mousse and had no salted praline. The crumb however, was super salty, which does usually go well with sweet but we found this strangely jarring. The mousse itself was really runny and quite eggy so we didn’t have more than a few bites.
Being a wine bar, I found the wine list quite ordinary. They had a reasonable number of international wines available by the glass but the options were very similar to what most other restaurants serve. The brands they offered by the bottle were definitely more varied but I think that’s something many places mange to do just as well.
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Despite the chef and team’s best efforts, this meal was one with way more misses than hits. As much as I hate to say this, I don’t think I would go back here unless it was for a glass of wine and probably nothing else. The menu is quite large however so I’m sure we missed out on certain, better dishes but this experience was unfortunately quite forgettable.