For the Love of Big Brewsky

I have a secret – I’ve developed quite a crush, one that has made me grab every opportunity to be with said crush – to the tune of four visits in one month! I’ve battled cabs and traffic and distance to be close to my new favorite, and indeed, even now am plotting ways to return. And no, this is no human love interest, but a place. Big Brewsky had been on my radar for well over two years now, but its location on Sarjapur Road meant that a trip from Jayanagar just never happened. Until a couple of months ago – and then the spell was cast!

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The space itself is the perfect foundation – the lighting is amazing and I really don’t think there can be a bad picture taken there in the daytime; the Koi Pond with numerous fish swimming about dominates the central part, like an old fashioned home where the courtyard is open to the sky in the center; there is an imposing three storey building where all the eating, drinking and partying happens; a special area set apart and again, off the ground, for a DJ or live band; a garden area which makes for a cozy private party; bars on more than one floor, and just an all-round expansive feeling. Plus it has some well-known and old hands in the F&B industry in charge of the place now – so you’re assured of being in good hands.

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My first visit was by invite, to check out the new menu the brewpub has launched, bringing in Chef Saby Gorai to plan and implement the overhauling. Chef Saby’s fame precedes him – he has restaurants in Pune and Delhi and after having met him a couple times now, it is safe to say his food and his charm are both swoon-worthy! The next trip was for their Sunday brunch, since a dear friend’s band was playing. And then one just-like-that visit happened. And the last one was the epic party they had to celebrate the new menu launch. Details of that evening remain a tad fuzzy, shall we say? 😉

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Sunday brunch, by the way, is an expansive feast set across two floors, including chaats, grills, pizzas, biryani, and with an entire car of desserts (that hacked off teal blue ambassador does serve a purpose!) and there are options for food only, food+beer, and food+cocktails, which makes it a really good deal and a good way to spend your Sunday afternoon – live music, DJ spinning tunes, loads of good food and drink, all in a very convivial atmosphere!

In addition to Saby, who flies in quite often to check on things, they have a brilliant man behind the bar, Karthik Kumar, who is weaving magic with his innovative cocktails, including using Kashmiri Kahwa! Must try that, along with The Great Pretender, which is a potent purple drink featuring tequila, tropical juice, egg white, and a homemade purple syrup that gives it the color; the gin based Pink Orchard; The Yellow Jacket with Bourbon and a turmeric syrup made in-house; and if Karthik has the popsicles in place, then the beer cocktails with a stout or blonde and a corresponding cola or orange popsicle in them are perfect for a hot summer day. My only kvetch is that the beers need some work, and I am looking forward to their pulling their socks up in this respect – the 3-4 beers I tried on my various visits were all kinda blah.

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One thing that really blew our minds was the sushi – better than what is served at some of the city’s Asian restaurants, even, rolled just so, and we couldn’t get enough. The Avocado Maki Roll, Vegetable Black Rice California Roll, Non-Veg California Roll with Salmon Roe and Tuna, and the Tempura Prawn Roll were what we had on that first visit and even though the Sunday brunch doesn’t have so many, if you’re there for it, don’t pass up on whatever sushi is on offer. The Shine Crystal Dumplings, vegetarian, taste as good as they look and are also a great inclusion amongst the Asian fare – delicate translucent wrapping without and crunchy veggies within.

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The Stir Fried Beef Chilli, Iranian Seekh Kebab, and Hot Black Prawns are all quite delish and pair perfectly with a cold one. Then there’s this absolutely brilliant, flavorful African spiced chicken, the name eludes me but its a must order! There are also salads, pizzas, pastas, mains including a bacon wrapped chicken, and more to choose from. If you’re a Risotto and Mushroom fan like moi, then the Black Rice Mushroom Risotto will also make your repeat order list – mushroom pate, truffle essence, parmesan cheese – need I say more?

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Desserts are good too – so if you can find the space, order the Asura’s Devil Chocolate Mud Cake with its rich center and gooey topping of cream cheese frosting, or the Chocolate Fondant, a lava cake with vanilla ice cream accompaniment. It is quite an expansive menu for a brewpub and we as a group had nothing against anything we ate, so there!

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With Karthik Kumar and Saby Gorai

Details: The Big Brewsky, Sarjapur Road. INR 2000 plus taxes for a meal for two, including drinks. Sunday brunch packages start at under 1k a head all inclusive, and go up to INR 1600 (depending on the drinks package).

Farzified!

The buzz around Farzi Cafe started many weeks before the restaurant actually opened its doors to the Bangalore public. Word of the opening of this Massive Restaurants chain’s Bangalore branch (in UB City, no less!) evoked much excitement – in fact, now, many months later, it is still difficult to get a reservation on a weekend and the place is almost always packed. Calling itself a “Modern Indian Bistro”, Farzi Cafe is high on the jinks – molecular gastronomy is seen in quite a few of the drinks and some of the food too. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, stylish, and attentive – across the board. I am quite a fan of one of their bartenders, Tejas, who creates fantastic drinks behind the bar.

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Oh the drama! A kettle with a billowing cocktail made from tea, vodka, citrus.

The food is decidedly Indian, with flourishes of fusion. After a couple of visits, and attending one of the slew of pre-opening parties, I came away with an appreciation for the drinks and desserts in particular – they’re cool, presented with more than a swig of theatricality, and with nice balance of flavors. In terms of the food, it came across as a mixed bag: some really great taste and presentation, as well as some that were flat. I think the latter happens with their vegetarian offerings – be it the bhajjis or chaat and such. Their non-vegetarian appetizers however, are very good. Now, since I happened to go for lunch, and since my camera was cooperative and the lighting kind, I have, for once, a number of good pictures, so am going to let them do some of the talking!

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At the behest of our server, we began with the Tomato Soup, served with a Pepper and Basil Rusk and micro greens, which was poured from a jug into a scallop-edged bowl – great taste and of course, presented well. The next dish is one that has become ubiquitous with Farzi – Tempura Fried Prawn. Now I like the taste of the dish, but every time I eat it, I find myself not sure of the texture – its gooey and the foam on top just adds to that feeling. The next appetizer however, erased any doubts – the Coorgi Pandi Ribs were divine – texture and taste wise. Suffice it to say, my dining companion, who usually desists from eating pork, kept pace with me, bite for bite!

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Coorgi Pandi Ribs

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Dal Chawal Arancini

The Dal Chawal Arancini is one of the fusion veg offerings that I do like – it is a pretty plate, and the arincini-ing of a simple dal and rice prep, with the teeny roasted papad rolls topping, makes for a crunchy and tasty morsel. The Chicken Changezi Quesadillas that came next were another interesting looking plate and tasted nice too, as did the Mutton Irachi Pepper Fry, served with Malabari Parantha. But the standout for us, surprisingly because neither of us usually go for this, was the Bheja Fry served on a an Appam – a must try for anyone who likes brain.

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Bheja khao!

We were full with both food and drink, but desserts were forthcoming and we were not going to send them away! If you’ve been to or been told of Farzi, their Bailey’s Lollipops are a cool innovation and much loved. Like the Hajmola Pops which are brought to the tables as a palate cleanser, these too are served in what looks like a ceramic tree. The brilliant finish to our meal, however, was provided by the Parle G Cheesecake: it was a perfect cheesecake filling encased between two Parle G biscuits – childhood nostalgia from the latter, with the sophisticated cheesecake flavors making for happiness. The other dessert was pretty with a sugar structure topping it – a Tres Leches Ras Malai. And then because we had to end with a real flourish, the most dramatic of all their desserts, called Milky Way, was served to us. Various sweet elements in the shape and aspect of the galaxy for which it is named, were set on a large slab, and then with the help of liquid nitrogen, literally brought to life! See the video here to fully appreciate this wonder! All in all, a meal at Farzi is as much about the theatricality and the presentation as it is about the actual food – and you’re sure to have a good time!