Apoorva, Fort: The Dive Bar With Roman Murals

Mumbai is weird. The sum total of our architectural heritage is concentrated in two streets around Kala Ghoda, while every other building in the city gets demolished, only to be rebuilt with smaller flats and more slippery lobbies. But we suppose even that’s a more honourable fate than lasting 150 years only to be turned into a giant Zara, Starbucks, or God forbid a McDonalds.

But this isn’t the tale of a man longing to bring back the British Empire, if only just for the architecture; it’s the story of one of the best local bars we’ve ever been to. It’s called Apoorva, it’s in Fort, and is great by every possible, focus group driven parameter.

We’re not the type of people who like to shower others with praise, we’re far too self-absorbed for that type of thing. But there come occasions in a man’s life when he discovers something truly great, and we’re glad to say this was one of them. And so begins one of our few reviews devoid of cynicism and unwarranted intern jokes.

We found out about Apoorva through one of our legal correspondents, who insists she’s a real lawyer. We were sceptical about trusting her, considering our strained relationship with the system(and women), but decided to go along with it because we spent the last review eating Avocado Bruschetta and Cheesecakes, and were deeply concerned about the long-term effects they would have on our sexuality.

Apoorva is housed in what can only be described as a majestic, colonial building, in one of the poshest looking parts of old Bombay. The first thing you’ll notice is the endless rows of intricate, wrought iron benches, and the second; an out of place Romanesque mural that’s as pretty as it is confusing. How did it get there? Who made it? Is it cursed? All excellent questions to slur at the staff when the curiosity and Royal Challenge finally overwhelm your sense of decorum.

Bombil Fry

Price: Rs.175

We find ourselves ordering a lot of Bombil because despite our flawless diction, we’re actually quite impoverished. The Bombil Fry at Apoorva, Fort is the perfect amount of crisp, without being unreasonably drowned in batter. It’s surprisingly less slimy than the stuff we’re used to, and also significantly fresher. All in all, a satisfying plate of Bombil Fry.

Squid Chilli Garlic

Price: Rs.260

Squid is impossible to come by in most local bars, especially squid that’s good; and we’d never experienced it in chilli garlic form at any point in our lives, which is why not ordering it would have been a wasted opportunity. Apoorva’s Squid Chilli Garlic, was delicious, and not chewy like you’d expect it to be, it was almost soft like chicken, but in a good way.

Declaring an item our favourite on a particular menu is often a process involving considerable back and forth arguments, threats, and physical violence; but in this case, it was a breeze. We seriously recommend the squid.

Kerala Prawns

Price: Rs.175

When we said the Squid Chilli Garlic was our favourite item on the menu we were only being technically honest (a trick we picked up from our legal counsel). The Kerala Prawns had subtle south Indian flavors and a violent kick from a visibly large helping of pepper. The prawns were noticeably fresher than anything we’re used to, and despite its relative pungency owing to the generous heap of pepper; it was very likeable. You could almost say it had character.

Apoorva is only a stones throw away from the stock exchange and the Bombay High Court, so if you go here in the afternoon, you might get to overhear some insider trading tips, and about what really happened that night outside American Express Bakery. If you like incredible, Fort based bars, but have disdain for the Roman Empire, be sure to check out our review of Canara.

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