Signature cocktails? Check. Tapas and tropical bar vibes? Check. Balsa this weekend? Definitely.
Positioned as an unpretentious, casual restaurant, Balsa is all set to make a splash on Lower Parel’s exploding culinary scene. The tapas & tropical bar against an alfresco set up is exactly what Mumbai needs to unwind on any given day. Throw in some eclectic signature cocktails and delicious global tapas into the mix, and you have yourself a winner!
For founders Ami and Abhishek Javeri, Balsa was the natural gateway into hospitality following a two decade stint in fashion. Together, they have managed to simulate a tropical vacation vibe, replete with easy-going tapas, smooth botanical cocktails and an exquisite ambience!
Right from the entrance, there’s an easy-breezy atmosphere all around. While Mumbai’s regular weather might not be conducive to alfresco dining, the cabanas and cool December breeze at the moment certainly aid the situation. It’s the minimalist modern decor complemented by vibrant green hues all around that make Balsa instantly appealing.
It’s a visual treat indoors too, with a magnificent bar, a myriad of seating options in a clean and open floor plan. There’s also an evident effort made to continue the natural green vibes indoors, making the restaurant a treat for social media lovers.
You can’t talk Balsa without addressing the extravagant cocktails first. With prices just as exorbitant, you can derive some solace in getting your bang for the buck at the very least. The cocktails entail tropical infusions, unconventional ingredients and remarkable presentations! The Birds of Paradise for instance, is made with Makazai gold rum, campari and freshly squeezed pineapple juice served in a beautiful desiccated coconut rimmed glass. There’s also The Baby’s Breath, a combination of rum and their in-house kokum cordial, topped with tonic water, egg froth and charcoal dust.
However, it’s Marrakesh Express that easily wins the bar menu at Balsa. With its refreshing and fruity flavours underlined by the barest hint of premium spirit, it’s a deceivingly delicious and intoxicating pink drink. Trust me, you won’t stop at just one.
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With the art discussed, it’s important to honour the artist at hand as well. The 12 signature cocktails that add to the tropical paradise vibes at Balsa come from Sameer Uttamsingh, Founder of Acme Hospitality and a renowned Food & Beverage consultant. He has also worked extensively with Nirvaan Thacker, the head chef of Balsa to curate a fine menu with a wide variety of tapas!
It’s time for the million dollar question. What is tapas? It’s usually savoury snacks, both hot and cold, served alongside drinks or before mains that fall under the category. At Balsa, they’ve taken the traditional concept of tapas from Spanish cuisine, and added a wholly global twist to it. The range of appetisers is peppered with treats like the Goat Cheese Tartine, Tomato Basil Puff Pastry Tart with Burrata, Kaffir lime fish tacos, Lamb Al Pastor Tacos and the Spiced Wild Mushroom Tacos to name a few.
Vegetarians will find delicious respite in the Avocado and Quinoa Tartare, as well as the Mushroom Galouti Pate with crispy naan. One might even dare say that these overshadowed the meat tapas, and are definitely worth a try.
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It’s the Truffle and Parmasean shoestring Pommes Frites that sealed the deal for us. Think of it as an elevated gourmet alu bhujia, with the right level of umami and crisp factors going for it. Paired with a tequila or gin cocktail of your choice, you can’t go wrong here!
For the fried chicken lovers, they have a Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Spiced Honey and a Fried Chicken and Signature Sauce Burger. If seafood is more of your jam, there’s also the Spicy Prawn Aglio-e-Olio, a take on the classic by Chef Nirvaan. While we found the prawns unfortunately overcooked and rather large on our visit, you might just get luckier with it.
With all the tapas and continuous flow of delicious cocktails, the main course threatens to get a little underwhelming in comparison. The super-bowls are a wonderful balance of taste and health and include a Middle Eastern and Superfood option. You could also opt for classics like the Hainanese Chicken and Rice, House Ramen and Korean Bibimbap to add a little Asian to the Spanish styled meal. In keeping with Sameer and Chef Nirvaan’s vision to champion plant-based meats, dishes like the Plant-Based Mutton Chilli with Fried Tortilla and Cilantro Rice and the Spaghetti with Plant-Based Meatballs are delectable to say the least.
Suffice it to say, Balsa is an experience that brings you the best of tapas and cocktails. According to the staff, the easy energy of the place is expected to transform into a high-energy club on weekends with a DJ to boot. What more can one ask from a faux vacation?