Sunday, September 22, 2013

Arbor Brewing Company - Bangalore

Wow! Life at Zomato ensures one thing - you have a lot of awesome work, you never get bored of the work you do, and well, you also don't seem to be able to make time for some of the other things you love - at least, I'm unable to, and I wouldn't want to straight away chalk it down to bad planning. It's not impossible, but I guess I've just chosen to use whatever free time I have to rest and recuperate.

A while back, I was invited over to Arbor Brewing Company to try out the range of brewed beers and some of the food they serve. The owner, Gaurav Sikka, was an excellent host, and extremely passionate about the beer brewing job. I know there's been a lot that's been spoke about Arbor on various social media platforms about the 'quality' of what it has to offer, but I think the saying 'to each his/her own' couldn't hold more true here. Sure, like at most places, there are a few things that are amiss, and there are few that'll blow your mind.

The interiors of Arbor are what you'd what a pub to look like. It's got an all wood look, and there's a long bar, really, really long! There's a section where you can see the huge vats in which the beer is brewed, and it lends a little bit of mystic charm to the whole place. I loved the wooden benches - classic! But then there were some couches and cushion-y seating arrangements that I didn't think went well with the whole look. It would have been great had everything been old school.

Ales and lagers
 Now, on to the beers. At the outset, I'm a fan of wheat beers. I used to like dark ales until I was introduced to the paler, slightly less fruity tasting Hoegaarden. And from then on, I've been hooked. The darker ales almost taste bad now :p So anyway, we were introduced to a whole different set of lagers and ales that Arbor brews - 7 to be precise on that night. Except for the Irish Stout, I didn't mind all other lagers and ales. The stout, with its pitch black coffee-like appearance and smoky flavour isn't something I can handle, and hence can't really comment on how good it was. The honey lavender ale was one of the best I had. While it didn't actually taste like honey, it did have a nice 'feel' on the palate. Apart from these, I also liked the Bangalore Bliss (wheat beer) and the Brasserie Blonde (spiced ale).

Moving on to the food, here there were some hits and quite a few misses. Now, I normally prefer a pub to have pub food, and so far, barring one or two places, I haven't come across too many places that stick to their guns and serve only pub food. Invariably, they do go down the road of having India food, especially when it comes to the main courses, and to my mind, that's just an attempt to please a small segment of the masses, who, quite honestly, wouldn't mind if dal makhani and rice weren't available. But what do I know - I'm a bloody Anglophile who loves food and don't care about others, right? Right?

Non veg platter
A non veg platter, with the usual suspects, was presented. The chicken tikka and the prawns were quite decent, not over cooked, and the brown dip given, with a sweet & sour taste to it. The wings were good - the sauce was sticky and nice, while a sprinkling of coriander gave it just a little additional flavour burst while ripping the meat off the bone. What wasn't so great were the chops and the calamari. With the chops, the flavour wasn't the best, the meat was a little tough, and overall, while I like the fact that chops are available, this one wasn't kosher. With the calamari, the pepper coating was way too inconsistent, and the calamari itself wasn't the best.

Hummus with olive tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes
Then came the hummus with some sun-dried tomatoes and olive tapenades. Nice, but not the creamiest hummus I've had. And I'm not even comparing it with the ones I've eaten in the Middle East.

Veg platter
Next came a platter of ghaas poos food. Needless to say, I wasn't too thrilled, but of course, I needed to stay neutral. There was a surprise in store though. The onion rings that you see in the snap above - well, those are by far the best onion rings Ive had. Ever. The least expected dish of the lot brought the biggest smile to my face. My fellow food blogger Swapna of FoodPornDiaries and FoodForSwaps had also joined me with her hubby Arvind, and together, the opinion was unanimous. The rest of the stuff on the platter were mediocre to poor. The paneer and pineapple combo just didn't work because there wasn't enough of acid from the pineapple, and not a strong enough flavour in the marinade on the paneer. The gobi manchurian was, well, an oily glob of soy sauce and cauliflower, and I've far better gobi manchurian from street vendors. The baby corn was decent, but then again, ghaas poos, so nothing great :)

Fish tacos with salsa
We were then presented with fish tacos, something that was being worked on. Well, it needed to be worked on alright! Here's the thing people need to realise with seafood, especially fish. There needs to be some form of acid or the other. Lime/lemon juice, tamarind, even kokum. And chilli. Of course, with the regular seasoning (duh!). When you're going to wrap that seafood in a pocket of dough (tacos, in this case), you need to make sure of two things: (1) any accompanying bits and pieces of anything shouldn't cover the taste of the seafood, and (2) remember all the acid + chilli? You need a little more of it.

Finally, to have something with the last round of beers, we decided to try something else, and this time, we decided to take a pick from the menu. We zeroed in on the Turkish kebabs, or so it said. Don't know how Turkish this was, but one thing was certain - this was the best dish of the night! By a long shot. The herb flavouring used, along with the seasoning, was perfect. I didn't care too much about what the dip/sauce was, because I didn't even want to try it. The meat was grilled very nicely, it wasn't allowed to become dry, the flavours blended in perfectly with the lamb, and it went really well with the beer! Game, set, match!

Overall, I think Arbor has some fantastic beer, some selective snacks that are good, and some that require quite some work to be done before they come out of the kitchen. Also, given that it seemed evident that the kitchen has  its fair share of inconsistent 'behaviour', I think it'd be best to work on a slightly smaller menu, get those dishes right, and then gradually ease more dishes into the menu. Cheers to that day!


Swapna said...

Aah... you write again! :) P.S. I get both my blogs mentioned ... tsk tsk... Almost feels like pimping! :P

shreya said...

Such mouth watery dishes. Bangalore is always famous for the different types of cuisines and the food is too delicious and of top most quality as well. I have been staying in Bangalore for the past 3years and do not wish to move out anywhere else. thank u for the wonderful post with such yummy dishes. Keep blogging with lots more.


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