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Cool sips


THE SETTING is not very different, a loud, smoke-filled bar. The patrons, more of the young, who are desperately trying to remain young, than the balding middle-heavy types. The differences were, the music was Spanish and so was the chief barman. Oh, I almost forgot another detail, here you get to eat more than salted nuts and carrot and cucumber sticks with dips. That's Zara, the Tapas Bar (phone:28114941) on the Cathedral Road.

About the décor, there seems to be a common thread running through the restaurants under the same management. The niches with artefacts and inlay work with tiles have been repeated again. The seating too could have been a little more imaginative. Not that seating is of much importance in a Tapas bar. After all, the food, nibbles, and wine are to be imbibed standing up.

Tapas, the Spanish style of serving wine with finger food meant to tide you over till the main meal, is an old tradition. In other words, it will be not-so-light snacks with drinks. The barman, Sebastian Galvez Bunge is from Barcelona. He is no bottle-throwing, catching the glass in the mid air flair bartender. But he mixes one dream Daiquiri.

We had started off with Zara Creation (Rs.150) and a Spanish Dream (Rs.75).

The equation of the first one was some thing like this: vodka + coconut cream + fruit juice — a hell of a smooth drink. The coconut cream and the fruit juice take the bite off the vodka. But the mocktail, Spanish Dream wasn't much of a trip. The promised peach crush was lost in the strong orange flavour.

The other mocktail, Strawberry Colada (Rs.75) made up for it. This take off on the Pinacolada is totally yum. One can easily squash the guilt about the coconut cream settling around the waist. It is good enough to silence your conscience without a problem. Continuing on the vodka theme, the Daiquiri (Rs.150) with frozen strawberry crush is the thing to watch out for. This can become highly addictive in hot afternoons.

Inventiveness is not the priority at Zara's — from Tom Collins to Shirley Temple we have met them before— quality is.

Now about the bites, the Tapas range is quite wide. Besides the Spanish selection, some of the eternal favourites like Chicken tikka and Satays are there too. Among the vegetarian dishes try the Ensalada verda (Rs.55). The red wine vinaigrette of this green salad was good. The leeks added that welcome onion bit that is unusual in such salads. Chicken salsa on toast (Rs.75) stood out from the rest. The olive oil does have a magical touch, case in point the Chicken salsa.

Though not classified as main courses, there are a few heavier dishes for those who don't believe in economy portions. For that matter there are even desserts, a lethal combination with alcohol. But who can resist a Crème brulee?

To be more precise it is Crème Catalauz (Rs 110), a Spanish interpretation of the French dessert. So, there is no burnt sugar crust on top, but a mere sprinkling of brown sugar. The crème is delicious and rich and worth falling off the diet wagon. So let's just stick to the Epicurean philosophy, eat, drink and be merry. Life's is much simpler that way.

MARIEN MATHEW

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