CIRQA Review: Many corners of Lower Parel have become undeniably attractive hubs for culinary enthusiasts in the city. Vast spaces occupied by Mumbai’s famous mills in bygone times are now home to fine-dining restaurants, luxury retail stores and other surprising establishments. The evolution of these localities is a testament to the city’s nature to constantly change and renew its offerings. We recently visited the Todi Mills area of Lower Parel for the launch of an exciting new cocktail bar called CIRQA. In some ways, the bar itself is a reflection of the city’s multifaceted charm. Read more about our experience below:
We started our evening with Sakura’s Punch, a wonderful concoction of Tanqueray gin, Campari, and Grapefruit genmaicha shrub, topped with carbonated water. The cocktail is dry and citrusy, with next to zero discernible sweetness. Sakura is the Japanese word commonly used to refer to the world-famous cherry blossoms. But many of us will also associate it with Sakura Haruno, the character from the Naruto manga and anime series. Gaurav Suvarna, our mixologist for the evening, also points out the association. Such hints of playfulness within the otherwise highly sophisticated menu make us all the more curious to try more of CIRQA’s creations.
CIRQA has a few savoury cocktails on offer, whose quirky names and unconventional ingredients are sure to catch your attention. For instance, their ‘Breaking Bread‘ contains toasted bread, black garlic-washed vodka, tomato water and clarified lime. But we have a soft spot for puns and the one we decided to go for is ‘Shut The Duck Up.’ It’s made with duck fat-washed bourbon, orange and black pepper Cinzano Rosso reduction, lavender tincture and citric solution. It’s an experience in itself – with each element managing to make its presence known. Complex yet satisfying, this drink was a delightful discovery we’d return for. Watch part of its making below:
For those feeling less experimental, CIRQA also has classic cocktails with their signature twist. The one we especially loved was the Bombay Cosmopolis (hibiscus and cardamom-infused Grey Goose, with cranberry and lime, served with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry). The flavours seem familiar enough, and yet there’s the unique hint of the cardamom that manages to take you by surprise. We also liked the Clear Colada, with plantation rum, caramelised pineapple, lime and clarified coconut milk. As we sipped, we were transported to the tropics for a few moments – far removed from the hustle and bustle just a few metres away from us, outside this cosy haven.
The food menu features a selection of bar bites, small plates and large plates. Indian, Asian and Continental ingredients are expertly transformed into elegant treats that match the complexity of the drinks. One may term it “fusion,” but that label doesn’t seem to do justice to such carefully curated dishes. The Sweet Roots with Magaj Crema is a must-try. It consists of beetroot and carrot mixed with a plum dressing and topped with crispy strands of potato salli. This is neither a chaat nor a salad, but a combination of the best parts of the two. Among the non-veg bites, don’t miss the crumb-fried Millet and Duck Croquettes, which are crisp and flavourful.
We also recommend the Prawn Sesame Bites – by far, the most ‘conventional’ item on the menu. We admit, we were left craving something simpler amid all these rich treats, and these shrimp appetisers were the perfect solution. Indulging in the scrumptious Pumpkin Rillette with white onion soubise, seed granola and lavash, was a memorable part of our evening. Warm and nutty, this small plate comes with different layers of softness and crunch. Among the desserts, the Peanut Butter Sundae is sure to become a crowd favourite. The flavour combination is comforting and you may find yourself easily losing yourself in its yumminess after a long day.
While the culinary creations of the bar are markedly contemporary, CIRQA’s decor exudes old-world charm. The bar has two storeys, with the upper one designed to take you back to the good old days of vintage bars – more specifically, to 1960. So prepare to be swept away – in more ways than one!
CIRQA is helmed by brothers Pankaj Gupta and Avinash Gupta (the duo who are also behind Taftoon, Oye Kake, and Cafe Haqq Se), while entrepreneur Adele de Fontbrune serves as the Co-Founder and F&B Director. The bar programme is led by Louness Ducos and Agnieszka Rozenska, co-founders of Stories and Spirits, distinguished mixologists from France and Poland who are now based in Goa.
Where: Plot 126, Ground Floor, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Pawar Marg, opposite Zeba, Lower Parel, Mumbai.