At a recent evening visit to The White Owl - The brain conflicted its own myth of getting slightly buzzed on a Hefeweizen or Cider while probably munching on a fancy bruschetta or slider, but now it sits in this industrial cage of exposed concrete absorbing all the possibilities of turning this evening into a rather sinful dinner made of comfort food denuded of its pretentiousness. If traversing through world's best plates with mugs of craft beer is your scheme, then flip to the 'Globetrotter's Menu' for a glance and leave your orders to the affable experienced Executive Chef 'Dinesh Bherwani' while your cognizance of different beers will be up a few notches after a ten minute talk with Guest Relations Manager 'Paulina Elm Argen'.
With flavours as diverse as dry Apple Cider to aromatic Irish Ale and chocolate perfumed English Porter to citrus induced Ale Pale, choosing your craft mug is quite a breeze. The Cider here is slightly mature, more beer-like than the Doolally version while the mildly bitter English Porter behaves like a straight face Tim Roth who occasionally smirks. The Halcyon slash Germain Hefeweizen and Diablo slash Irish Red Ale, both rank better than the ones from other breweries. Unfortunately, the one that lit up our faces - 'Paulina' the German kolsch was out of stock, the narration of its nature by Paulina (not the drink) herself makes one go peaches and apples over it.
Moving to the food, here's where the dilemma begins-a dilemma of good nature and the one that makes you contemplate if you should save some dishes for the next visit or just ravage them all out right here right now. The food is incredibly smart, comforting yet simple enough to deceive you for a bar snack. Everything that we ordered from the Globetrotter's Beer Pairing menu or the Ala Carte menu was nothing short of a ten-on-ten. The Swedish Lamb Meatballs arrived at the table looking like a no frills dish, Potato mash circle filled with brown gravy and four crude looking meatballs in the center. Break that meatball into half, dip it into that briny tang and smear a little mash at the fork tips. What happens next inside your mouth is to be remembered for a lifetime, it's that good; Chef Dinesh saw two bobble-heads on our table when he returned to ask about the dish. Beer was pushed aside, plate was centered and savouring the remaining meatballs was done religiously, skillfully and without a word. What preceded this moment were two vegetarian snacks - Puerto Rican Plantain Tostones and South African Red Bean Bunny Chow. Both based on beans, both equally complex in taste and multidimensional. The Grilled Pineapple Salsa & Mozzarella combination in the Tostones and the Cheddar & Mozzarella combination in the Bunny Chow adds that layer of complexity and brilliance that can make any meat-lover appreciate and adore it. It was easy to comprehend the Tostones on a quarter plate, though the mini Bunny Chows scooped from slider buns was real nifty.
Further tasting portions of Thai Chicken Sliders, BBQ Chicken Waffle-Burger and two madcap flavours of Popcorn were sent to the table. Again, the Thai Chicken Sliders are nothing that one can comprehend, Red very Asian tasting patty coupled with a tiny square of omelette, tangy soy mayo and julienne carrot-cucumber, all this sitting between sides of English Muffins. You can debate on its lineage, but definitely not on its taste. Sip-munch, sip-munch, that's all there's left to do. The outlandish plate of 'Waffle-Burger' here is balanced in all aspects and especially perfect in one, the proportion and softness of the waffle to the filling. Recently there've been attempts across many trending eateries to get this plate right, though most often people end up discarding the top waffle and binge on it like an open-face sandwich. There's always too much waffle in the mouth and more so too hard. Chef Dinesh's version behaves elegant, not too messy while the sweet cornmeal Waffle bends around the inner savoury goodies like the biscuits in K. Rustom's Ice-cream sandwich.
The last item-flavoured Popcorn was something that Dinesh took inspiration from his earlier workplace at Graham Elliot's Bistro. Served as a replacement to the bread basket, the Popcorn here is available in a few coating like the tadka spiced 'Bombay style' or the Paprika & Parmesan coated 'Firecracker', said to be cray-cray level of heat, though we managed to come out alive after emptying two cups of these variations with another round of beers while Chef Dinesh narrated to us nostalgic stories of his mum's Fish Pulao recipe and how he keeps drawing inspiration from those moments in the kitchen.
Thus the evening had culminated on a stupendous high with Chef bringing us something unique and off the menu; Chocolate - Yes please, Spicy Chocolate - May be!, coated with Orange Poprocks - Hell yeah!
White Owl puts the B in Brewery and a capital B in Bistro, sex them up and makes an offspring like no other. Modern ambiance, excellent craft beers on the tap and a superlative new food menu. It's deeply conflicting to conclude this one as a great brewery or an excellent eatery. Flip a coin, Bistro or Brewery, it's a win-win.
Location : Lobby, Tower 2 B, One Indiabulls Center, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
*Medium&Rare was invited for this meal at the White Owl.
Update 01 Sep 2015,
We paid another quick visit to this Microbrewery after hearing some inconsistent feedback about the dish that won us over (Swedish Lamb Meatballs) from a few folks whom we had suggested to. The only negative though that came was the excess of salt in the reduced gravy. Thus, we went for it again and specifically mentioned to skip that extra dash of salt. The plate came out with a slight different presentation, but the flavours were absolutely nailed in this one. Meatballs, Mash & Gravy were wiped clean in a matter of minutes along with some Torpedo and Paulina glasses. So as it turns out, if this dish were to be made permanent you should perhaps mention a little note to the kitchen as we did. An English Porter Popsicle was called to end the meal, craft beer on a stick with cookie crumbs is indeed a neat way to close an evening. No doubt, White Owl comes heavily recommended by us for it's food helmed by Chef Dinesh.