A Cuban journey @ Loca Loca

Usha Iyer tries out Mumbai’s newest bar, from the land of cigars and Fidel Castro and comes back impressed (and utterly inebriated).

It’s tough to give new places a fair shot, especially if they were previously places you loved (Say aye if you moped for days about the beloved JATC turning into Eat Around the Corner). We stepped into Loca Loca with some apprehension. After all, we spent many evenings drinking and dancing here, when it was still WTF!

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This Cuban-themed bar looks completely different from its previous red booths and kitschy posters avatar. More so because it was completely empty when we walked in. The wall in the outdoor seating section has been painted with a street scene rife with bright colours while the leather seating is a subdued brown. The wall that overlooks the street has a rather strange spray of flowers and wooden windows that we didn’t really understand but liked all the same.

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Eager to try their specials, we started out by ordering every drink that had the word Cuban in it. The Watermelon Cubanito (Rs 350) was mix of white rum and fresh watermelon juice that was a bit too stiff for our liking; the Pineapple Cubanito (Rs 325) and the Strawberry Cubanito (Rs 385) were syrupy and sweet, although we were partial to the strawberry flavoured version.

Yup, that’s three Cubanitos to get the evening started. Next up, the Vodka Grape Sangria (Rs 325) was pulpy yet delicious. While the taste of vodka was too mild, the combination of grape juice and wine had a deep sweet and bitter taste. This led us to seriously wonder, why aren’t we adding wine to all our drinks?

We also tried the Miami Mojito (Rs 290) and the Bloody Mary (Rs 325), both drinks that no self-respecting bar must get wrong. And we are happy to report that they were perfectly blended, pleasant and well, boozy.

loco-loco1When it came to food, the Orange and Parmesan Crust Paneer (Rs 230) was absolutely delicious and has found a fan in us. The crust was crispy, the Paneer soft and the orange-flavoured gravy thick, creamy and bursting with flavour. The Cuban Ham Sandwich (Rs 190) though, was a bit of a disappointment in comparison. The ham slices were too thin and lacked seasoning and we left the layer of boiled eggs and coleslaw untouched. We tried the Cheesy Corn Job (Rs 125) next and let’s face it; corn on the cob isn’t the most bar-friendly dish. Nobody looks good squirrelling away at a piece and then there’s always the matter of residual bits in your teeth that don’t make for a pretty sight. The four pieces were loaded with cheese and the spices, which were so heady; it almost clouded our senses. The Fried Calamari (Rs 190) and the BBQ Beef Sliders (Rs 230) were spot on in terms of flavour and proportions. The calamari rings were deep fried and crunchy (we even overheard someone refer to them as calamari bhajiyas) and the sliders had the right amount of jalapeños to add zing to them.The meat was very well done and well seasoned. We polished off the four pieces in less than five minutes. The Cauli Fritobit (155) – an unusual find on a bar menu involved cauliflower bouquets in an overly sweet and spicy sauce that we had a bit of trouble finishing. By this time, the bar had gotten surprisingly full and we decided it was time to call it a night.

Do we miss WTF!? Yes. Did we have a fun night at Loca Loca? Yes. Do we see ourselves coming back here? Definitely.

Must try: Bbq Beef Sliders, Strawberry Cubanito

Meal for two: Rs 3000+ taxes (including alcohol)

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