Chennai’s newest underground bar might be compact, but is big on ‘experiential quotient’
The parallels between Chennai’s fledgling standalone bar scene (unlike the city’s luxury hotels that can serve drinks around the clock) and the Velveteen Rabbit (a novel by Margery Williams) about a stuffed toy rabbit’s desire to become real (through the love of its owner!) are not entirely tough to spot. This underground bar (no this ain’t no speakeasy bar, just a bar in the basement!) located under L’ Amandier packs serious charm.
We can almost sense business meetings and unplanned ‘catch ups’ with your buddies moving from cafes to this cozy bar. After all why sip on a Frappe when you can sip on an ice-cold Erdinger or Stella Artois at 4 pm on a hot Chennai afternoon. The Rabbit’s beer menu has at least 10 iconic International brands, but they come at a premium – A touch over Rs 500/bottle once you add all the Love (in the form of the State Government import duties – a whopping 58%). The spirits menu is not short on International big names and the bar’s cocktail (even some mocktails are not bad!) menu is impressive too.
There are no large plates on the menu but there’s always L’Amandier if you need to stuff yourself silly (just one flight up). We tried some of the small plates – the Arancini Balls (with generous amounts of mushrooms and arborio rice) and the Blue Cheese chicken tikka are both equally scrumptious. But the Rabbit has to sort it’s ‘bread issues’ out – the thin crust pizza and the pita bread (in the Mezze platter) were both sub-par. Aside from the stellar service and a packed small plate menu, the Velveteen Rabbit works because of its cozy interiors. It’s easy to lose track of time (and the time of day) when you’re tucked a few feet under the ground in one the bar’s old school high-back chairs or sprawled on one of their couches.
The Velveteen Rabbit is at 57, 2nd Main Road, RA Puram, Chennai (below L’Amandier) / Tel: 30257949 and is open through the day (12 noon to midnight). Meal/two (two starters and two cocktails): Rs 1500/-