At Sette Mara, the sparkling new Middle Eastern lounge, bar and kitchen, creates community meals and Levantine classics in a tony setting. But what sets it apart is the inventive bar menu, particularly aged negroni.
There are the Negronis. Not just any other negroni but barrel-aged and clay pot aged ones, versions of negroni that are rather rare in India.
The century-old drink is considered a classic and at Sette Mara, the Middle Eastern lounge, bar and kitchen in St Regis Mumbai, it is more than just another drink. It is aged for between five days to two months in an oak barrel or clay pot to enhance the flavours.
Prakhar Agarwal, the mixologist at Sette Mara says that ageing a negroni requires mixing the three ingredients—dry gin, red vermouth and Campari—and letting the cocktail mature. The cocktail you get is bitter and sweet in equal parts with hints of vanilla, oak or clay (kulhad), depending on the receptacle used. But if you want to be far more experimental, add passionfruit to the drink and the flavour just bursts into your mouth, or my favourite, Crystal truffle negroni.
“Ageing makes the drink smoother. It is suffused with smoke-y notes of the oakwood barrel or earthy notes of the kulhad or clay pot,” says Agarwal. “Our guests are luminaries who want a classy drink, not a cosmopolitan or mojito.”
At Sette Mara, besides negroni, bartenders are working on creating interesting cocktails with gin.
There is more to the lounge bar and kitchen than just aged negronis, though that is one good reason to head to this new restaurant.
Sette Mara is a lovely space to spend an evening in. Evening, I say, because the lighting is the hero here: in parts mellow from the various light fixtures and lamps that create an interesting patina, in parts suffused with natural light streaming in from the expansive windows as the sun dips behind the concrete edifices that dot the horizon. In monsoons, evening skies can be rather dramatic.
At the core of the lounge bar and restaurant is seating that goes from lounge-y to community tables to private nooks that are closer to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The azure to Prussian blue navigational constellation compass suspended above the dining area is rather flamboyant. The lounge and bar are dressed in colours of a sensual version of a Middle Eastern bar or tavern. Burnished rusts, burgundies and cinnamon tones summon images of cargoes of spices, wines and perfume that may have once sailed out of the ports.
The menu evokes the vibrant culinary culture of countries such as Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Persia and Georgia. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Reuben, whose attempt is to bring to life the tradition of meals shared by the community and the family that Middle Eastern countries are known for. So, you can order a lot of sharing plates.
The Muhammara is rich, smokey-sweet and spicy; the garlic labneh has flavours of za’atar; Hummus Beiruti has the right amount of spice; Kataifi Prawns are deep-fried and served with a chilli pomegranate labneh. The hummus, besides Hummus Beiruti, aren’t much to write home about; they are adequate as starters, something to get you off before you go to the actual meal.
Our recommendation: Mangal Grill, the traditional Middle Eastern charcoal grill. Mangal is a ritual in Turkey, an excuse to get together with your loved ones around a table laden with good food and engage in conversations while feasting on grilled delicacies. From meat to kebabs, the grill is at the centre of community life in Turkey and some other Middle Eastern countries. Enjoy it at Sette Mara.
Also recommended: Khachapuri Bar, a soft and fluffy Georgian bread served freshly baked from the ‘Tone’, a traditional stone oven.
End the meal with the sweet-scented baklava, scattered with rose petals. It is fresh, ambrosial and hedonistic. The right way to end a meal fuelled by aged negronis and juicy grills.
Address: 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Reservations: 011 61628000