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Having charmed the tastebuds of Brummies with its irresistible fusion of Bombay-inspired street food and home-brewed craft beer, this pint-sized success story, born of Birmingham’s very own Indian street food boom, has found itself a second home in Solihull.
Nestled among a gaggle of chain restaurants and bars, this 21st century tap house with a difference may seem unassuming at first glance, but don’t be fooled by the muted exterior. Simply open the doors and let the ‘good vibes’ roll.
Channeling the authentic spirit of downtown Bombay, exposed brick arches, open-plan kitchen, industrial-style light fixtures and bistro-style benches are instantly brought to life by splashes of Hindi-style graffiti art, an explosion of stylish Bollywood posters and a dizzying array of quickfire advertisements in garish neons, yellows, blues and greens proclaiming ‘there’s always time for chai masala’, ‘try our famous fat naans fresh to order’ and - my personal favourite, standing proudly over the bar - ‘by order of the Indian Brewery’. Add to this an infectious soundtrack of Bollywood-infused hits blasting out from the nearby jukebox and you’re well on the way to a taste of contemporary Bombay!
But what is any Indian ‘streatery’ - quirky interiors aside - without an equally moreish range of meals just perfect for enjoying with friends? A quick glance at the menu - itself stylishly designed to resemble a Mumbai newspaper - reveals an innovative choice of dishes. These include everything from street-style finger-foods such as Pakora Pops (crunchy spinach, potato and onions served with dipping sauce), Bombay Bites (crispy chicken served with coriander chutney) and Roti Roll served with a choice of chicken tikka or paneer, to contemporary twists on classic comfort foods like Indian fish & chips (cod marinated in spicy batter served with masala fries and tartar sauce), Juicy Keema Burger (served with cheese and chutney in a toasted buttermilk bun) and Fat Naans (served with a choice of chicken, vegetable or chilli fish topping). And for the eternally undecided, I strongly recommend diving into the Bombay Thali; a platter-style serving of house favourites including Tarka Dhal, Dhal Makhni, Saag, Chana, paneer, roti, rice, poppadom and salad. Perfect for sharing and not at all unreasonable at £19.50.
Settling into our booth, our Indian sharing experience kicked off with a choice of one of 11 tantalising cocktails. Each in its own way was inspired by the flavours of the Indian subcontinent, from Bailey’s Chai (a compelling blend of Bailey’s liquor, masala chai and whipped cream) through to the Mumbai-inspired Slum Dog, a warming blend of honey, ginger and whiskey. While I myself opted for a Bollywood Breeze - a tropical blend of coconut rum, pineapple juice and sweet agave syrup priced at £7.95 - my partner’s eagle eye fell on the venue’s impressive choice of craft beers, which included home-brewed Birmingham Lager served from the keg or by can alongside a choice of Indian pale ales, golden brewed Bombay Honey and Peacock ruby ales with hints of berry. A great example of local produce served with panache!
With our appetites well and truly whetted by the pungent aroma of mixed spice drifting from the nearby open-plan kitchen, our attention fell on the Mixed Grill - a carnivore’s delight piled high with chicken tikka, lamb chops, sheek kebab, green tikka chunks, Indian fried chicken, tandoor wings, fresh cod pieces and Bombay bites, all stacked on a bed of glazed onions (£19.50).
The dish was a triumph on every level. Beautifully cooked to chargrilled perfection, the quality of the produce spoke for itself. The grilled lamb chops in particular were a joy to eat, small but perfectly cooked in a light tandoori spice, whilst the fresh cod pieces, fried in an effortlessly light batter with just a hint of spice, added another surprising layer of texture to an already fantastic dish.
Despite the generous portion sizes, we couldn’t head home without sampling a bowl of home-style Tarka Dhal - a hearty dish of red lentils cooked in turmeric and chilli and served with a side helping of roti bread and fresh salad. Delicately spiced with a rich seam of garlic and butter running through it, the dhal’s richness was perfectly complemented by the fresh zestiness of the salad. The fluffy roti was not only delicious in itself but also the perfect choice for dipping and dunking street food style!
And for the sweet-toothed amongst you, don’t leave without first sampling a dessert of Gulab Jamun (dough balls in syrup) or Nutella-filled Naan with ice-cream, garnished with chocolate drizzle!
This quirky independent restaurant comes complete with great service, stylish menu, a plentiful drinks offer and an utterly unique ambience. The Indian Brewery is fiercely loyal to its independent roots, delivering time and again on the quality which first earned it an enviable reputation as a cornerstone of Birmingham’s thriving street-food scene.
I’ll drink to that!
**** Katherine Ewing
Posted on Wed 16 Oct
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