In food and drink – as well as in life, the best things come from pairing two perfect partners. At Bundobust Liverpool, Bold Street’s hot new eatery, those elements are Indian street food and craft beer. But its concept was a partnership right from the beginning. Six years ago founders Mayur and Marko teamed up for an event in Bradford, pairing the food from Mayur’s family restaurant Prashad, and Marko’s bar The Sparrow, one of the first craft beer bars in the whole country.
Marko says: “We wanted to show that there was more depth and opportunity to pairing beer and Indian food than just cooling your mouth down with a pint of Cobra after eating a Madras, and being able to introduce people to new, vibrant, and exciting versions of things that they’re already familiar with and nostalgic for seems to have really resonated.
“A lot of the recipes that we use came from Mayur’s family kitchen in some capacity, whether that’s the family kitchen, or the one at Prashad, so that gave us a good foundation to work with. The pop-ups were invaluable in evolving the service style and the vibe of Bundo. As much as well love curry houses and grew up eating in them in Bradford, we didn’t think that was the right fit for what we wanted to do at Bundo – the whole regimented starters, mains, naan or chapati, rice or chips or half & half etc.”
Instead, Bundobust Liverpool tried something fresh and new – even down to the way it was presented.
“We started using Vegware pots in the beginning, because they’re made from plant-matter and totally compostable, so they were the most sustainable and ecologically responsible way of doing things,” says Marko. “It just so happened that the standardised portioning was perfect for how we wanted to serve our food, a modular menu that can adapt from solo bar-snacking all the way up to a communal build-your-own feast.”
The street food style offers delicious dishes Gujarat style, as Mayor explains: “The Pav Bhaji is a bit of an unsung hero on the menu – it’s a mixture of potato, cauliflower, and peas all cooked down with our garam masala which gets added at different points throughout cooking so each side comes in layers, served with a toasted brioche pav so you eat it like a sloppy joe.
“Street wallahs in India cook huge batches in pans about 8ft wide, it’s well impressive to watch. We haven’t been able to get a pan that size through the door yet though…
“We’ve become well known for our Vada Pav – a spiced mashed potato patty, deep-fried and served in a brioche bun with homemade chutneys – because who’s going to be able to resist the allure of deep-fried double-carbs after working their way through part of our beer list? Okra Fries, in a chick pea batter with black salt and mango powder, are also a Bundo signature. We calculated that our head chef Maity has chopped over a million individual okras since starting with us.”
There is a great range of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Does it take a lot more thought to come up with imaginative non-meat options?
“It would actually require more imagination to shoehorn non-meat options into the menu,” laughs Mayur.
“Various cultural and economic influences mean that a lot of Indian food – street food especially – happens to be vegetarian, and we want to be faithful to that, so everything on the menu happens to not contain any meat, and over half of the dishes can be served totally vegan.
“Not that you’d notice anything was missing – we actually get a lot of customers bringing their parents in and only breaking the news to them that they’ve just eaten ‘vegetarian food’ after they’d admitted to loving it!
There’s an impressive range of choice on the drinks menu too.
“Craft beer is our main drinks focus,” says Marko. “We’ve always considered ourselves to be a craft beer bar that also does amazing food, so we like to offer a good mix of timeless classic styles as well as keeping up with the latest developments from cutting-edge breweries on a par with any of our bar-peers.
“Our most popular beer is Bombay Dazzler, an Indian-spiced witbier with cardamom and coriander, which we brewed with Northern Monk, who are old friends of ours going back to the Bradford days. We’ve got something for all palates though, and our staff are more than happy to talk you through any recommendations and pour a few tasters to help you decide.
“The good thing about Bundo is that it’s whatever you want it to be, from a pot of Okra Fries over a sharing bottle, all the way up to everything on the menu and one of each off the beer board.”
It’s a close-knit team who clearly love what they do.
“We’ve always said that the team is as integral to the Bundo experience as the food or the drink, as it’s the people that make or break it, and the Liverpool team are brilliant, there’s 15 in total and they all just get it and they’ve really come on board with what we’re about and how we like to deliver the experience to customers. A few of them were already fans from visiting us in Leeds or Manchester, so that helps!”
The restaurant is perfectly placed on Bold Street, Liverpool’s best-loved food quarter.
“It’s inspiring seeing such a variety of businesses all thriving together. Liverpool is so lucky to have nurtured such a hospitality-driven area that has developed in a kind of grass-roots way, and judging by the crowds Celebrating Bold Street event that we got to take part in earlier this Summer, it’s something that really resonates with them as well.
“The first thing we did in Liverpool was a collaboration supper club with the team from Maray who we’ve become good friends with, with Bundo being born out of collaboration it’s something that we really see the value in, creatively, so look out for more Bold Street collabs in the future!”