This restobar in Chennai will transport you to a night market in Bangkok
If you want to take a trip, Chennai’s hottest new restobar, Nght Mrkt, is your ticket, minus the jet lag. Stepping inside literally transports you to the streets of Bangkok, with light bulbs hanging above you and a series of seven food stalls to choose from, some made from carts and others with “vendors” stealthily. through the windows. We happily stroll around, getting a glimpse of the global cuisine on offer: Mexican-style churros sizzle to golden brown, and spaghetti with Alfredo sauce is romantically swirled in a wheel of pasta and cheese. It’s also worth mentioning that the cocktails at this location come in buckets, not pitchers. We drink this when owner Varun Sheth (whose father brought Frankie chain from Tibb to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) says hello and offers to show us around. That’s when we realize that this restaurant section is just the start.
French fries and butterflies
Spread over 6,000 square feet, we are escorted to an adjacent play area (hello foosball) which then leads to the main bar and another seating section for those in the mood for drinking and dining. A purple drink with a purple straw makes its way to our table. What stands out for us is that it is not in a glass but rather in a bag of slurpee. We sip. It’s a Butterfly Gin & Tonic (given the butterfly pea flower) with lemon and, surprisingly, star anise – subtle and airy. Settling down on crispy okra fries and garlic and scallion scented strip potato bites, we chat with Varun (one of six partners) who comes with a culinary training from Kendall College in Chicago. The 26-year-old shares: “We created a model that allows us to rotate the kitchens and experiment a bit. We love that we can order Korean style fried chicken with heaps of that addicting umami flavor in the same breath as a thick crust pesto burrata pizza. The latter is served in rectangular slices, Detroit style, and apart from the rare spots, it’s gooey with a flawless amount of cheese.
No dress code
We step away from the food for a minute to discuss the relaxed, laid-back vibe that at first gives us The Look of Roxette playing in the background. But we are told that it was created quite intentionally. “We wanted to create a comfortable and accessible space, not luxurious. That’s why we don’t have a dress code, you can wear shorts, ”says partner Ritvik Varun (30), a cooking enthusiast who could most associate with Kollywood, courtesy of his father, director Vasanth. Another game changer with this 150 seat waterhole is that it is ‘family friendly’ so you don’t need a babysitter to go out in the evening. “Children are welcome in the restaurant and in the play area on weekdays, while the bar is reserved for adults,” Ritvik informs us.
Momos & marshmallows
Back to our tasting session. Other highlights of the evening include the unmissable chewy pork Momo, which comes with options of a chili oil dip or a spring onion dip. And later, taco sushi appetizers. The latter is more of a design flip, with the seaweed serving as a wrapper instead of being wrapped around the sticky rice. We tasted teriyaki chicken sushi, as well as raw mango cream cheese with a soy sauce dip and the lightest kiss of wasabi for heat – and both were an explosion of flavors on our taste buds. The dessert is liquid nitrogen chocolate ice cream that increases the bet on decadence with flambé marshmallow fluff.
Meal for two INR 2000, including spirits.
Expect brunch afternoons with small plates prepared so you can sample a handful of cuisines all at once. Launch planned in the next three months. In addition to the main bar, there will be a mini-market serving shots, cocktail buckets to share and pouches for one, available by the end of the week. We’re also curious to sample alcohol-inspired ice cream toppings like caramel whiskey and bourbon maple.