Sat. May 25th, 2024

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The Bandra Kurla Complex is rapidly strengthening its position as one of the city’s most happening cultural hubs. In the past few months, several new restaurants and bars have sprung up, adding more colour and variety to the otherwise imposing commercial neighbourhood. We recently had the chance to visit one of the hottest new openings of the season – Lyla. This Mexican and California-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant is the latest offering by Chrome Asia Hospitality, which is also known for Gigi, KAIA Goa, Donna Deli and Eve.

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Photo Credit: Lyla

While Lyla has limited outdoor seating, you can only truly escape the disheartening clutches of BKC once you step inside. The ambience is a marvel in itself – with a vibrant fusion of Indian, Afro-Latin and Spanish design accents. Rich upholstery, lampshades, lacquered tables, patterned floors and mismatched furniture create a breezy yet tasteful setting. 

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Photo Credit: Lyla

The kitchen is helmed by Chef Beena Noronha, who has curated an extensive menu that works equally well for a leisurely lunch, a special dinner, an indulgent snack stop or simply for after-work drink. “Most of what we see in the city is Tex-Mex food. So, we’ve tried instead to do a mix of Mexican and Californian cuisine that reflects the restaurant’s vibrant atmosphere, along with flavours that diners are familiar with,” we’re told.

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Photo Credit: Lyla

We began our experience with the Summer Garden Guacamole, which was made tableside from scratch. It is mesmerising to watch the server crush the avocados, sprinkle the salsa and customise it perfectly to our liking. Following the gentle movements is relaxing and allows you to give in to the fun, escapist vibe exuded by the decor and music. We dig into the beautifully fresh spread with three types of nachos and settle in for the delights to come.

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Photo Credit: Lyla

The star of the evening was the Aji Lima Churros. These zesty savoury churros, graciously sprinkled with chilli lime seasoning, are the definition of irresistible. Pair them with a simple cheese dip or enjoy the green delights of the coriander jalapeno ranch – either way, this crispy snack is something you’ll continue to think about long after they are over (as we know only too well).

Non-vegetarians, don’t miss the robust spiciness and juiciness of Tequila Lime Chicken Wings. They are stuffed with sofrito and served with a unique goji berry sauce which we loved. The abundance of aromas and tartness infused in a piece of succulent chicken makes it the ultimate indulgence. If you are craving a subtler and crisper option, go for the Calamares Fritos. This one also comes with a yummy sauce – a mango picante dip that we proceeded to eat with the remaining appetisers too!

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Photo Credit: Lyla

Lyla’s drinks program has been curated by renowned spirits journalist Priyanko Sarkar. There are 9 signature drinks and the menu leans heavily on tequila and mezcal. We enjoyed the fruity notes of The Gold Rush, with tequila, red wine, crushed pineapple and black pepper. It was bracing yet rejuvenating. Another One – we’re told it’s a bestseller – is also impressive. This fusion of reposado tequila, mango, avocado water and spices is a distillation of Lyla’s best aspects in a glass. We also savoured Cali Peeli – a marriage of desi and Mexican ingredients (kokum and tequila). The last can feel especially welcoming in the height of Mumbai summer.

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Photo Credit: Lyla

Any restaurant that describes itself as Mexican – even partly – would be expected to get their tacos right. And we’re pleased to tell you that Lyla does not disappoint in this regard. From their ‘Tacos & Tortillas’ section, we highly recommend the Hawaiin Chicken Tacos. We bit into a crunchy shell to discover a lip-smacking combination of chicken and charred pineapple. Jalapenos and caramelised onions contributed to the wonderful symphony of sweetness and spice: this is what taco dreams are made of. Among the vegetarian choices, we liked the wholesome Spinach Enchiladas featuring baked tortillas encasing the leafy greens, beans, cheese, avocado and a tangy tomato and jalapeno ranchero sauce.

In the mains, there are some flavourfully decadent options like Buttery Bay Scallops and Chicken Adobo. We relished the goodness of the Salsa Verde Rice Bowl, which is a vegan dish. The salsa verde rice and three-bean gravy were a light and refreshing combination. It comes with two chunks of vegan cottage cheese, which was a soft and satisfying accompaniment.

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Photo Credit: Lyla

The dessert section poses an unfair dilemma after an evening of such feasting – how to select just a single treat? Like the other courses, the final one at Lyla’s also offers some exciting and thoughtfully curated choices. There are theatrical ones like the Chocolate Coma (a medley of various kinds of chocolate delicacies) and classic ones like the Horchata Tres Leches. After the success of its savoury sibling, we couldn’t resist ordering the Monster Churros. The twister churro is placed on a splattered bed of dark chocolate sauce, flanked by hazelnut cream and salted caramel ice cream. We lost ourselves in its deliciousness.

Lyla won us over with every course with its unerring attention to flavour. It managed to straddle that fine line between simplicity and sophistication. We can’t wait to return and discover more favourites from the menu.

Where: Lyla, Platina Building, G Block BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai.

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