In 2012, a new word entered the lexicon of Indian restaurants: gastro-pub. It means an upscale, yet accessible, bar that offers innovative drinks and food. The word caught on because of Manu Chandra who opened Monkey Bar in Bengaluru; regarded as the first gastro-pub in India.
In 2014, he introduced The Fatty Bao; think of it as the izakaya version of Monkey Bar.
In 2016, amid the clutter of molecular gastronomy, he opened Toast and Tonic. The buzz was its ingredient-focused approach which translated into tonics infused with fresh flavours and a menu dedicated to locally available produce served with artistic flair. With this restaurant, terms like sustainable and homegrown entered the parlance of menus. Their truffle fries with Naga chilli aioli is addictive stuff.
It was this multicultural ethos that stood out. Each of these restaurants are an amalgamation of trendy, quirky and style, and Chandra pioneered these concepts under the ambit of the Olive Group of restaurants.
Today, the 40-year-old chef hung up his apron and bid adieu to Olive. In a statement to press, AD Singh, Managing Director, of the hospitality group, wrote, “It is with sadness that we announce the moving on from the Olive Family, its two partners Chetan Rampal and Manu Chandra.”
Rampal joined the group in 2011 and teamed up with Chandra to introduce those restaurants concepts and together they chartered newer territories. The duo took these brands beyond Bengaluru to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
On his Instagram account @manuchandra, he shared a sentimental post titled So long, and thanks for all the Baos, and quoted the poet T.S. Elliot: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. Until we meet again…”
In the next phase of his career, Chandra intends to ‘surprise, enrich and delight’; the trifecta of emotions one desires from a restaurant post the pandemic.
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