Everybody loves a good deal, but we Indians especially love a good deal. So it’s hardly surprising that the concept of bar stock exchange, a bar where the price of a drink dips and rises with ebb and flow of demand, has proved to be immensely popular. The Lal Street, an obvious pun on Dalal Street where the Bombay Stock Exchange is located, is Hyderabad’s first bar with dynamic pricing. Earlier this month, I was invited to a preview session for bloggers.
The decor of The Lal Street is similar to most new age bars – a mix of eclectic posters and artifacts with lots of bright colours. As you walk in, you are greeted by a brightly lit, slightly disconcerting wall art featuring the Joker. The ceiling of the indoor seating area sports exposed pipes and ventilation ducts interspersed with a ticker showing the latest prices of drinks. There’s also a spacious outdoor section offering an elevated vantage of the busy Cyberabad.
The food menu is expansive and predominantly Indian, with a few dishes from Europe and the Orient. The grub is a mix of typical Indian restaurant dishes, popular pub food like Fish n Chips, Nachos, and Pizza, and some interesting street food from different parts of the country. I was psyched to see Missal Pav on the menu. I love this fiery street food from Maharashtra, and this is the first time I saw Missal Pav in a restaurant menu in Hyderabad. I awaited the dish with bated breath, praying that it didn’t disappoint. And it didn’t. The red chilly powder to a tad too dominating in the rassa, but the Missal was quite good. Our next experiment with Sabudana Vada from Gujarat, however, proved to be a disappointment. The limp, oily Vada was a far cry from what I was expecting. I also spotted Keema Ghotala on the menu, but opted to reserve it for my next visit as others dishes were coming to our table thick and fast.
The Tandoori platters arrived in wooden plates shaped like a Football field. The four different appetisers were loaded on the edges of the field, while salads and dips were placed in the centre. The veg platter featured Paneer Tikka, Broccoli Malai Kebab, Babycorn Sholay Kebab, and Veg Sheekh Kebab. The non-veg one came loaded with Fish Tikka, Chicken Tikka, Hariyali Murgh Tikka, and Mutton Sheekh Kebab. The Lal Street uses various props to serve the food. The Kasundi Mustard Murgh Tikka arrived in a wooden boat, the Tacos were served in a truck, and the Saboodana Vada was plated on a race track. While the presentation is fun and interesting, there doesn’t appear to be much rhyme or reason behind the plating choices.
While delicious grub is always welcome, the real protagonist at any Bar Exchange is always the drinks. The Lal Street has over two dozen cocktails and shooters, in addition to several pages of liquor options. The drinks menu comes without a price tag, since the prices are dynamic. The price of fast moving items will shoot up, while the ones that are not being ordered will slide down. I was told that the prices can vary significantly. However, I could only spot fairly moderate price fluctuations, almost always less than twenty bucks. I spotted The Lal Street app in the app repository for iOS and Android. Having an app is a great idea as it allows you to quickly check the prices of the drinks you want instead of being forced to constantly monitor the ticker. Since the prices can change quite quickly, it also helps you in quickly grabbing a deal that you might have spotted. However, I’m not entirely sure if the app is functional, as the prices keep on changing even when TLS is closed. The concoctions are quite well made and I enjoyed both barman creations at TLS and the classics. The Ol’ Dirty Bastard with Rum, Kahlua, Condensed Milk, and Coffee tasted pretty darn good. We were also served a couple of shooters with Kaluha and Bailey’s and both were quite enjoyable. Ka’ching with its refreshing mix of watermelon, cucumber, and lime is the perfect potion to rejuvenate yourself after a long tiring day.
The Lal Street is the latest entrant to the increasingly happening Gachhibowli-Kondapur food scene. It has all the ingredients to become a crowd magnet – great ambience, interesting cocktails, good food, and even seesha. The fun concept of a bar stock exchange adds another dimension that makes it stand out from the other watering holes in the city.