I just read through some of the reviews for this restaurant and I’m wondering how on earth did these people manage to eat so many dishes at District Lounge! Because the portions at this bar and restaurant are really, really generous. And if you’re only two people, you won’t be able to have anything more than one starter, mains and dessert with a couple of drinks each. Apart from the portion size, the taste, service and pricing of this restaurant are major USPs, despite being situated in the premium Shalimar Hotel, an iconic landmark of South Bombay.
The hotel is at Kemps Corner and a twenty minute cab ride away from CST station. Walk straight ahead from the reception and you see the ornate ochre and brown door with floral carvings. Inside, the bar looks small at first but then you see the extended seating space and the array of bar stools and you realise there’s much more to District Lounge than meets the eye. We wanted privacy and quiet, so sat at one of the tables closer to the entrance. Inside, there were some boisterous regulars who were gracious enough to apologise about the noise. We didn’t really mind though.
The waiters at District Lounge are humble and quick to meet your demands. We scanned through the menu, an exact replica of what’s available online. Like always, I already knew what I wanted. The papad paneer rolls had looked quite interesting in pictures so we went for that. Unfortunately, the cocktail I wanted (Sazerac) was missing a key ingredient (absinthe) so I went for my usual favourite, a sparkling wine spritzer. My friend had the long island iced tea, which turned out to be quite special. Later, we ordered good old paneer masala with roti and were quite stuffed by the end of it. But our server insisted we ought to try dessert and recommended the Dutch truffle. Who can go wrong with that, right? It was classic chocolate pastry elegance.
All in all, District Lounge is complete value for time and money. The service is quick, the drinks are competitively priced and your final bill should be around Rs 2500 for two with alcohol and Rs 1500 for only food. My only recommendation is to pay more attention to the lighting and music, to create that pub-like ambience. Now for those of you who are interested, here are the details.
Starter: Papad paneer roll (Rs. 375)
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Four gigantic papad rolls came to us, each generously filled with chopped paneer and an extremely spicy masala. The dish was tasty, attractively presented and filling, but the chef could go easier on the chillies and masala. Having two of these was like a meal in itself!
I loved the paneer tikka masala with its faintly sweet and creamy gravy and large chunks of paneer. The paneer was soft and fresh and we mopped up most of the gravy with the warm rotis.
There are no desserts on the District Lounge menu but there’s a bakery next door with an attractive array of the sweet stuff. The Dutch truffle is known for its perfection and we weren’t disappointed. It was the perfect end to a satisfying meal.
A delicious concoction of sparkling wine, aperol (a kind of liqueur) and soda, this bright orange cocktail came wedged with a thick slice of orange. I loved its fizzy goodness but felt that it wasn’t very potent. I may have been wrong though, because the next drink had me really tipsy.
Every bar does its own version of this classic favourite but District Lounge really aced it. The seductive dark concoction of vodka, gin, white rum, tequila and triple sec was served in a beautiful tall and curvy glass and the drink felt super smooth on the tongue.
You could also try their creative new-age cocktails while you’re there. The ‘hookah pots’ might be a good option for larger groups. Beer starts from Rs 165 and wines from Rs 295 per glass. There is a decent variety of mocktails as well on the menu. Food options aren’t too many but the non-vegetarians have slightly more to choose from. If you live in town, make District Lounge your Friday haunt. And if not, make the trip for a special occasion.