They say the nights belong to poets and the madmen. At Ek Bar, AD Singh’s latest offering in Delhi, in partnership with Chef Sujan S, both demographics are catered to, along with several others. The cocktail bar, opens only at night, and is done up like a Daliesque confectionary, from the pachyderm in aviators sketched on the wall, murals to the pop colour explosions of the upholstery to
other objet d’ outre. A caveat to the reader: as the evening progresses, the bar fills up faster than a free James Bond film screening; so call ahead.
Ek Bar is promoted as a cocktail bar or club, with the food accompanying the drinks rather than the other way around, the bar counter dominates the main floor of the two storied, terraced space. The music is a mix of ambient and electro-pop echoing vibrantly around the bar.
So naturally, the cocktail is king here. And queen and jack and ace. Printed on postcard sized playing cards, the drinks menu is steep in the country’s history and culinary traditions. For instance, the punch — a British interpretation of paanch, an Indian concoction of five ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, alcohol and tea — is served in fine porcelain china, but there’s nothing demure about the drink itself. Each face of the card, er, court, boasts its own reel-inducing retinue, from kewra infusions to liquour lashed with lime.
The food menu is the joker in the deck. It tumbles around the country, juggling cuisines and cooking techniques with hedonistic abandon.
We begin with the non-vegetarian thali, a formidable conglomerate of Galouti Hot Dogs, Chicken Tikka Sausages, Scotch Eggs stuffed with Goan sausage and Smoky Duck Pattice, all made in-house. Even the condiments are homemade, including a ketchup that would make generic brands turn redder in shame. But nothing is smokier than the Tikka sausage — tender, coalescent chicken bursting at the seams of its taut, crunchy casing.
Next up is a diabolically delicious mixture of chicken liver pate and bheja masala. Served in miniature clay achar barnis, we wish we could take ours home, provided it gave us an endless supply of the paste. Velveteen in texture, each bite an explosion of umami flavourings, this is the best thing we’ve eaten all year.
Drowning, we clamber on to some Crispy Fried Kochi Oyster to break our reverie. Accoutred with lemon gel, an Indian style Kimchi with cucumber and turnip and a mayo spiked with Bhut Jolokia, the erstwhile hottest chili in the world, the oysters do just that. Indeed, the night is filled with drinks, food, song and drinks, too much to capture in prose. We shall return soon to try our hand at poetry then. Hopefully, we shall see you there, dear reader.