It was the distinct change in vibe that hit us first when we stepped from the quiet first floor corridor of Taj Lands End in Mumbai into the House of Nomad. It was early on a Wednesday evening, by Mumbai standards, but it was already buzzing.
What caught our eye next, was the island bar located in the middle of the room. Crafted from knots of natural timber, paired with metal panels, and accessible on all four sides, it’s clearly the heart of the 100-seater gastro bar.
The House of Nomad draws inspiration from the life of a wanderer, always moving, adapting and innovating. It is bohemian and warm with exposed walls, Edison bulbs, a chalkboard with specials written on it. And it offers a taste of the world with its selection of innovative cocktails and wines from across the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, France, America, Italy, Argentina and Chile.
The restaurateurs are clear that ‘the experience’ is what will set this gastro bar apart, and that’s exactly what they deliver.
As a band belted out hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s, we kickstarted our evening with the signature drinks. The genre changes from classics to house through the week, but Wednesday and Thursday nights promise live music. The interestingly refreshing concoctions are a brainchild of bar manager Jiaan Kris J Lam and have been created with recommendations from Andrew Pearson, an award-winning mixologist who is counted among the Top 100 people to have shaped the UK bar business.
For the love of strong drinks, we tried the Bramble Sour, Bollywood Hopeful and The Final Say. The Bramble Sour with Tanqueray gin, fresh lemon, homemade berry infusion and a dash of sugar is refreshing. The lemon zest blends well with the herbal notes of the gin. The sugar provides just the right sweetness without overpowering the distinctive flavours.
If sweet is your thing, then the Bollywood Hopeful is your best hope. The Ketel One Vodka, apricot liqueur, pureed mango and fresh lemon are shaken and served with a shot of white wine on the side. The crisp notes of the chilled sparkling wine cut down the sugar-laden drink, making quite the duo.
Other must-have signature drinks include the Channel No 6 (served with a molecular lipstick), Islay Smoked Sour, and Cinful Mule.
The cocktails are complimented well by Chef Anirudhya Roy’s menu, with dishes — Steamed Edamame Bowl, Mexican Molette Toast and ‘Life changing’ Pie. The menu also features an assortment of tapas, flatbreads and sushi creations.
Chef de cuisine Philip Kurian calls it the “inspired tapas concept”. Around 95 percent of the ingredients are locally sourced, while the remaining are imported to maintain the authenticity of the dish.
The Ebi Tempura and Asparagus Tempura Roll were the clear winners for us. The crunch of the tempura, the moistness of the prawns, with the punch of wasabi, made the perfect accompaniments for our cocktails.
We also liked the Bandra Sheermal Rolls. In an Indianised twist to tacos, the flatbread is folded with generous chunks of lamb seekh kebab and strings of flavoured onion and served with chutney. If flatbreads are your thing, also try the classic one with truffle, arugula and shaved parmesan.
As we moved from one drink to the next, the Spinach & Feta Phyllo Parcels with sour cream dip and the Grilled Jumbo Prawns with garlic, butter, lemon and Italian parsley, served with a portion of mashed potato, made for excellent partners.
We rounded off the meal with the Baked Runny Chocolate Cookie Pudding with a side of bourbon gelato. It is a mix of a brownie, fondant and Mississippi mud pie and digging into it was as satisfying as watching those ‘perfection’ videos — a poke into the crusty exterior to reveal the gooey chocolate topped with the ice cream.
If chocolate is not your thing, try the Baked Alaska. Theatrics apart (it is flambeed with cognac), one bite of the layered chocolate, strawberry and vanilla confection and you will know why the House of Nomad is not your average pub. Here, you can’t just eat, drink and leave. Instead you come, experience and return for more.