In the middle of one of Mumbai’s most beautiful open spaces, an old shell has been given a new interior. UK architects Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta of Serie Architects have redesigned ‘The Tote’, a banquet hall, restaurant and bar. The colonial facade of the Tote building gives way to what looks like a bleached, enchanted forest. In the banqueting and indoor restaurant areas, white metal pillars branch out like trees as they reach the ceiling, creating the effect of walking down a forest path.
Strategically placed skylights in abstract shapes, mimicking sunlight breaking through dense foliage, heighten that feeling. By contrast, the 40ft long bar upstairs is all dark chocolate wood. The faceted wood panels on the walls give the impression of looking through a kaleidoscope, or at paper that was folded to make an origami figure and then opened out. The original cubbyhole-like windows, through which bets were placed, have been retained.
Shaded spot: White metal ‘trees’ and abstract-shaped skylights give the effect of walking down a forest path.
Tote, as the new restaurant, bar and set of banquet rooms is called, is the new member of the deGustibus Hospitality family (headed by Rahul and wife Malini), which includes Indigo, Indigo Deli, Indigo Café and The Moveable Feast, a catering venture.
Established a decade ago, Indigo was Mumbai’s first stand-alone fine-dining restaurant, tempting diners in that segment to move away from five-star hotels. Tote, with a similar pricing strategy, takes that concept forward. Tote joins Gallops and the Olive Bar and Kitchen as the third restaurant on the race course property.
The restaurant is split into three areas—lounge seating on a veranda enclosed by glass panels; an indoor dining room sandwiched in between, and an alfresco space with the foliage of lush rain trees latticing the sky. This open-air section will house pits for a grill, tandoor and wood-fired ovens and tables sheltered by umbrellas. Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta of Serie Architects wanted to extend the feeling of being under the dense foliage of the rain trees into the building, which led to the tree-mimicking pillars.
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