Dining, and a bit of whining, at 266 Wine Room and Bar

Wine is finding it’s moment in Mumbai once again. Wine Rack at Phoenix Mills has an extensive collection, Cin Cin in BKC is boldly pushing wine flights, and now we have 266 The Wine Room and Bar. 266, unfortunately doesn’t refer to the number of wines on the list, but is part of the new restaurant trend in Mumbai of incorporating the postal address into the name. In this case, 266 stands for 266 Linking Road.

It’s the space next to Great Punjab with both restaurants sharing a common entrance. A side-door opens up to the long and narrow Wine Room and Bar which is a pretty cosy space with lots of dark wood, mood lighting and a well-stocked bar and a lounge-like area in front. A short corridor, on one side of which is an open kitchen, leads to the dining room with a semi-private dining area at the back. It’s a very adult mature space, not somewhere you’d want to take your kids to.

As far as the wine offering is concerned I thought it’s a decently curated and well priced list but nowhere nearly as extensive as it should be for a place calling itself a Wine Room. A choice of 52 wines does not cut it anymore and a wine room should really be a place of discovery. I didn’t see any of Wine Park’s wonderful New Zealand sauvignon blancs or Chenab Impexs Greek wines. This pusillanimity suggests a lack of confidence in Bandra’s wine-drinking market, and this may not be an unfair assessment.

266 Spritzer, 266 Wine Room and Bar, Bandra
266 Spritzer

What I did like is that they are catholic in their selection and have not tied up with a specific importer or Indian producer as many stand-alones tend to do. It’s a reasonably representative wine list but they should beef up the wine by glass offering and cut back on the spirits. The wine cocktails however are promising and I found the 266 Spritzer with sparkling wine, Campari and orange to be quite refreshing.

Like most new places the food is modern European and I’d say it’s a wine-friendly menu. The flavours are not subtle, but neither are they really big and overpowering and most of what we ate could go well with wines.

Frankly, apart from the ginger-soy mushroom salad with black rice and kale, where I thought the kale was superfluous, I enjoyed everything. However, I did notice an excessive reliance on pomegranate seeds for colour.

The lotus stem crisps topped with gunpowder was quite addictive; I finished a whole bowl by myself. The ceviche of red snapper was fresh and delicate with just the right hit of acidity.

Amongst the dishes that stood out for me was the chicken liver parfait which was silky smooth and creamy, with just a hint of bitterness. One of my favourites was the eggplant involtini. Thick slices of eggplant rolled around a stuffing of smoked scamorza and mushrooms, and topped with pesto pine nuts and fresh mozzarella. It had a lovely deep, meaty flavour. The soft and juicy pork belly with cauliflower purée is also worth returning for; it goes perfectly with the braised cabbage and apple.

None of the three desserts we tried – the dark chocolate and olive oil mousse, the panna cotta and the crème brûlée – left a strong impression on me, though I do remember being quite indifferent to the brûlée and liking the texture of the panna cotta.

Considering that they’re more wine forward than wine-focussed 266 Kitchen and Bar would be a more proper name especially since the food is a strong draw.

Invited by PR company Yes
Guest of the chef/ restaurant Yes
Restaurant knew I’m a food writer Yes
Meal comped by the restaurant Yes

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