Review – We beat the blues at Tonic and Auriga restobar , Mahalaxmi

Tucked away in the Fashion Studio Lane at Mahalaxmi, the two storied Auriga turned its lower level into a new lounge that goes by the name of Tonic. The dimly lit setting gave both, Auriga and Tonic the feel of a relaxing lounge, though the former is set up like a restaurant. Chinese lanterns light up the trees outside the venue which act as an indication that you’re nearing the place; while blue lights and hints of candles and fairy lights spring up inside the restaurant and lounge adding a trippy effect. The place, not exceptionally big, we expect will probably have a different look and feel during the day, minus the blue lights. The venue imbibes a very casual relaxed feel, just like any lounge should.

Ambience:
Once the Chinese lanterns guide you to the entrance, you can choose your seating area, whether outside, the lounge – Tonic or the restaurant – Auriga. The outdoor seating is pretty minimalistic and would probably be your choice only if you’re a smoker. Once you enter the ground floor lounge, silvery 3D line patterns and the blue light emitting from between the lines are the first thing to catch your eye simply because they’re everywhere, from the ceiling to the pillars. The lounge has little seating space, though we sure that that is to allow ample leg room to people who want to dance, even if it’s a full house. The bar is decorated with the wide range of alcohol they stock, and with cages filled with fairy lights that break up the monotony of the blue lights. Black leather cushioned sofas and matching hassocks or pouffes make sitting at the lounge comfortable, though the low tables will not allow for comfortable eating which is why, Auriga upstairs will be the next stop after you’ve shaken out a few moves and downed a few drinks.

Upstairs, being the restaurant, it is almost void of the blue light that engulfs the room downstairs, and the silver patterned lines are replaced by thin strips of wood panels that run horizontally across the room. The walls are not flat and therefore add effect to the wood paneling. One section of the restaurant contrasts the wood finish with mirrored walls and pillars, caged fairy lights and the same black sofas from the lounge. We assume this serves as the romantic spot for couples, since it is also tucked away from the rest. The furniture of the restaurant is mostly stark wood except for the long 14-seater high table in the center of the room that has red cushioned bar chairs. TVs all around the lounge and restaurant, including Auriga’s projector and big screen stream live matches for fans who don’t want to miss a moment.

Both levels have different music to keep up with the different themes and moods of each of them. The lounge obviously has the latest mixes and EDM tracks to get your feet tapping and eventually have you busting moves out on the dance floor. The base was turned up so high, that while sitting upstairs our feet could feel the vibrations from below. The restaurant played a mix of 80s and 90s gold that almost had us singing along to the famous tunes of Abba, Def Leppard, and Dire Straits.

Drinks and Food:
Since we weren’t in the mood to glug down some hard liquor or shooters or even dance, we skipped the lounge and went straight up to the restaurant where we ordered a Corona and a virgin cooler of star anise and orange juice. The Corona pint, as usual, came with a lemon wedge at its mouth that enhances the flavor of the smooth Mexican beer. We were most intrigued with the star anise and orange drink combination, as we’ve never tried anything like it before. The spice added the most pleasant aftertaste that lingered on our taste buds for a while after each sip. The drink was unexpectedly refreshing and is definitely a favorite from that night. Overall, the drinks list looked exhaustive with all the imported liquors and regular brands which would probably make this a good place to come for a Friday night party!

The menu was distinctly divided into Asian and European dishes and so we decided to mix our dinner up a bit; after all, variety is the spice of life, right? For our starters we were served with a staple of Fish Fingers and tartar sauce and a plate of Crispy Chilli Potatoes. The potatoes had their skins on and, though the name suggests crispy chilli, weren’t as crispy or spicy as you would expect; but the balance of ginger and garlic and hints of sweet sauce gave the normally bland baby potatoes a good flavoring. The chilli did kick in, but only after having chewed through a morsel and wasn’t enough to set your tongue on fire, which to us was a disappointment though we’re pretty sure a lot of people would be glad. The fish fingers were crisp and crumby on the outside and flaky on the inside, which to us was perfection. The fingers also had a surprisingly strong hint of basil which went perfectly well with the sweet-sour tartar sauce, which always makes for good accompaniment for the deep fried goodies. No Asian menu can be complete without a dumpling section which caught our eyes, and so we were prompted to get the assorted vegetarian platter that included two pieces of each – the spicy veg, broccoli corn cheese and spiced bamboo shoot and mushroom. The spicy veg made for a protein-packed healthy bite with mixed pulses, spinach and cabbage. The spiced bamboo shoot and mushroom was decent though not as exotic as the name suggests. The cheese in the broccoli corn cheese was a bit too overpowering, so much so that the broccoli was lost among the blandness of it. We didn’t think we’d ever say no to cheese until we tasted it in a dumpling.

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For our main course, we got the Basa with Lemon Capers and a Fettucini Al Pesto. When the basa arrived, we were stunned by the size portion of the serving. It was just a little smaller than the size of our forearm! The filled was grilled to perfection with a slightly crispy layer on the outside, while the inside was soft and flaky, a bit like the fish fingers. The lemon caper sauce was in small dollops around the plate but packed in a great punch that gave the fillet a scrumptious flavor. It almost felt like little bursts of lemon in our mouths. Sides of some grilled veggies and generous serving of mashed potatoes filled the plate and our stomachs too! The Fettucini was cooked al dente, mixed with cherry tomatoes and slices of kalamata olives. The pesto which had a predominant taste of olive oil and basil, coated each strand of the flat pasta evenly. We really liked that the pesto was dry and didn’t have a greasy feel to it, and the fact that we were served two toasted slices of bread to accompany it.

When it was time to order dessert we were told that their passion fruit cheesecake, which is marked as a special on their menu, was all sold out. We had also had a belly fill by then which made it easier to let dessert go and just get coffees instead. We got a cappuccino and an Americano that were served in latte glasses, which is the general term for v-shaped glasses with handles. We were impressed with the coffee and blend which had a mellow flavor that was perfect for an after meal drink. Who would expect a lounge/restaurant to have good coffee?

Recommendation:
We would really recommend skipping the alcohol for the star anise and orange cooler. It surprised us and won us over, without a fuss. The crispy chilli potato is perfect for those who cannot tolerate high levels of spice. We wished we could have tried the Malaysian flat noodles as that’s also marked as a special on the menu, though we had to give the European section an equal opportunity to prove itself. And we’re glad we did, because we would vote for the basa with lemon capers for its simplicity and its striking lemon punch. The cappuccino was a good end to the meal and acts like a good dessert in case they ever run out of their special passion fruit cheesecake, which we think, might be a regular phenomenon. Our personal suggestion would be to stick to one of the two cuisines, either Asian or European, so as to not let flavors clash and confuse your taste buds.

Verdict:
We like the variety in cuisine, though as we mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to stick to one as both fared well in our books. From a glance, the menu seemed to have traditional Asian and European dishes but there were a few that looked like they could be fusion dishes with Indian spices or variations. To be honest, this restobar/lounge does not qualify to be a super luxurious diner; but they make up for that with the good value for money for their food. The portion sizes surprised us right from the start, and we found ourselves halfway done right after our starters! The serving size was generous without compromising on quality. The staff too, were courteous and ever ready to offer suggestions if we were having trouble deciding. The great pricing along with the ambience would probably make it a lot more accessible and a good go-to hub for the larger population of college students.

What We Ordered:
Corona – Rs. 450
Star Anise and Orange Cooler – Rs. 250
Crispy Chilli Potato – Rs. 260
Fish Fingers –
Assorter Dumpling Platter (Veg.) – Rs.320
Fettucini Al Pesto – 375
Basa + Lemon Capers – 475
Cappuccino –
Americano –

Address:
Tonic Lounge
Aurigo Restobar
Dr B E Moses Road,
Famous Studio Lane,
Mahalaxmi, Mumbai

The Luxe factor is

7 Food
7 Service
7 Ambience
7
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