By Cat McGovern
When I first heard about Zenna I was quite intrigued to see what an Indian cocktail bar would be like. I also thought I’d be a bit greedy and go there for cocktails before heading off to Shoreditch to review a gig for another publication. Oh the life of a freelancer, it sounds so fancy.
Whilst waiting for my terminally late friend to arrive, I see a guy sweeping the street outside the bar. Another guy, who looks distinctly like the manager, says ‘not with water! Just sweep!’ They obviously want to make a good impression. I’m mildly impressed.
My friend turns up, half an hour late, and we go inside. It’s already quite packed, so we make our way to the seating area, to the right of the bar, and rest our weary feet. I make her go to the bar - as she left me waiting outside, in the cold, on my own, for 30 minutes - whilst I have a snoop about.
The bar is swarming and has some panicked looking barmen, furiously making endless cocktails and rushing about to try and maintain the thirsty press. I feel a bit sorry for them as there are about 40 people down here and only four barmen. They try and keep a cool and professional exterior, but I know that they’re stressed on the inside. I like that there are many bottles of Bombay Sapphire on display behind the bar. It makes me want to pinch one so that I can make my own drink, but I resist.
Past the DJ booth are two cavernous seating areas, which are seriously cool. This is where all the early people are hanging and I am jealous, but as I soon discover, my seat is by the door through which all the canapés appear. Hurrah!
I gobble away at the Sekkh kebab, a lamb skewer of loveliness with the right amount of spice and beautifully tender. The breaded fish with a cooling mint sauce and both chicken bites, Karaa Murgh and Murgh Tikka, are exceptional. It’s fresh tasting and not at all greasy. It makes for a good distraction whilst I wait for a cocktail.
Finally my friend returns with two cocktails; The Red Fort (named after the restaurant upstairs) and the House Nectar. It took her about twenty minutes to get these colourful concoctions and I feel slightly guilty for demanding them, but not guilty enough to let her know. The pink coloured Red Fort is a bit unusual as it contains chillies, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless, whereas the House Nectar is essentially Um Bongo with alcohol; brilliant!
As the clock is ticking, we inhale our drinks and go to our next destination. Although the cocktails we had were really quite good, I think the Zenna staff might struggle when it’s at full capacity. It takes a good while for each drink to be made and people will be coming here for the cocktails. I would have loved to have tried their Lassi cocktails, but alas it was not meant to be.