Poco Loco Tapas and Bar (Poco Loco being a little crazy in Spanish) at Bandra had shut down in the lockdown but has reopened again. Now situated in Khar, the new outlet that serves Spanish and Mexican delicacies, has, both, indoor and outdoor seating and a molecular bar.
Founder Megha Datwani had found it difficult to continue with the business last year, especially with no concessions in rent for the older space. “However, my passion for the F&B sector and motivation from a lot of my clients who frequented the old outlet, encouraged me to restart the restaurant,” says 28-year-old Datwani.
Before launching Poco Loco, Datwani, a hospitality management student from Ecole Hoteliere (Lavasa), worked with the Marriott group of hotels and Mamagoto. While pursuing her degree in the US from Bentley University (MBA Finance) from 2016 to 2018, she was introduced to Mexican food, and her interest in Spanish cuisine was sparked by her trips to Spain to meet her extended family. A cousin there is also a chef.
The menu of the new outlet offers old favourites like assorted tacos (braised lamb tacos, braised pork tacos, peri peri cottage cheese tacos), Pollo Al Chipotle Dulce, burritos (habanero burrito & chipotle burrito), Peri Peri chicken/Cottage Cheese, Pan-seared Chicken with Habanero Sauce and Pilaf Rice, Spicy Jacket Potatoes and Double Cheddar Lamb Burger along with new dishes – Paella Valenciana, Gambas Al Ajilo, Croquettes, Chimichangas, Peri Peri Chicken/Cottage Cheese in Cilantro Rice.
The restaurant’s modern, chic decor that has Sombrero hat-shaped lights with intricate cane detailing, looks stunning in the evenings. The planters, the periodic table of cocktails and the bright coloured Dr Loco (the mascot) add colour and a fun vibe to the place.
Interior designer Nikhar Jhawer of Archirior India has included Spanish and Mexican design elements to this space: the bull-faced decor pieces on the walls are inspired by the popular bullfighting in Spain. They have arches similar to those found at the entrances at many Spanish architectural sites.
When I went to the restaurant, on a breezy evening, I decided to sit outdoors for a bit and first ordered the Cottage Cheese Chimichurri Roasted and the Veggies and Black Beans Tacos. The former one has the right amount of Chimichurri and was delicious, but the tacos were dry for my taste.
As the evening progressed, I decided to have the rest of my meal indoors and tried Patata Tijuana (creamy seasoned potatoes, green chillies, tomato, mozzarella and avocado); Tex Mex Burger (lettuce, onion, pico de gallo guacamole and three bean patty); Mushroom Parmesan Croquetas (creamy bechamel, mushroom and parmesan croquettes) and Burrito Habanero. The use of habanero chilli made the Burrito extremely spicy.
The key ingredients that are required to keep the cuisines authentic like habanero and chipotle chillies, Paella seasoning and Spanish saffron are imported from Spain and Mexico. “Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the imports are taking longer than usual. In fact, no suppliers have Paella seasoning, so we got a large stock of it from my cousin who flew down from Spain recently,” says Datwani.
True to Spanish and Mexican cuisines, in which spices are the heroes of the dishes, you will find spices even in the desserts! The Chocolate Chilli Pepper Tart’s top layer has chocolate and the bottom has a spicy jam-like layer.
They also have the popular Spanish dessert Tres Leches, which was delicious and moist with the right amount of milk.
The food can be paired with popular drinks from their molecular bar—Reaction (homemade cookie infused whiskey, homemade bitters and cinnamon-infused smoke); Espuma de Maracuya (Gin, passion fruit purée, lime juice, sugar syrup and dash of soda); Nubes En El Cielo (Baileys, whiskey, milkmaid, cinnamon powder, served in a chilled cocktail glass); Locura (tequila infused with cucumber and homemade cucumber berry caviar); and Cactus Margarita (Cactus extract sugar syrup lime juice tequila salt rim).
Datwani takes pride in using the ‘farm to foam’ approach for the drinks and in the use of naturally sourced ingredients. She uses molecular gastronomy chemicals or equipment to convert them into interesting forms like smoke, foam, caviar, spheres etc. Apart from her, Vaibhav Chaware (General Manager Operations) and Vaibhav Salvi (Assistant Bar Manager) are involved in the bar activities. Salvi mainly manages the bar while the designing of the drinks is done by all three. Dattwani finds out interesting ingredients to play with and both the Vaibhavs are great at creating recipes and concoctions to create the perfect balance of flavours.
Few of the best selling drinks include Mango Margarita with Chilli Caviar (an interesting take on a classic margarita with mango and homemade chilli caviar to give it an interesting burst of spice in an otherwise sweet cocktail); Chile Rojo (Poco Loco’s take on the bloody mary and is served in a chemistry beaker, a tequila-based drink with tomato juice, tobacco and spicy homemade onion broth served with some dry ice); and Coco Loco (A dessert cocktail with tequila, vodka and white rum, topped up with homemade Kerala coconut foam that is caramelised using a blow torch).
Poco Loco Tapas and Bar, ground floor, 21st Road, Sangeet Samrat Naushad Ali Marg, Khar West, Mumbai 400052 Ph: 93241 91366 Cost: Meal for two: Rs 2,000 (approximately) with drinks.