Independence Brewing Company, Mundhwa
Why would you go to a brewery if you don’t drink?
I am asked this question, often in a condescending tone. My unabashed answer to which always remains, “I go for the food.”
A brewery or a brewing company, by definition is a business of making and selling beer. While the setup is in contrast to a bar, where ‘finger food’ or inadvertently the ‘chakhna’ are items of mass appeal. The breweries in Pune to be specific, have taken an effort to reach out and bring scrumptious grub to your drinking tables. You wouldn’t just want fries with your pint when you have options of an Exotic Philly Steak and Mutton Samosas.
This was my second visit to Independence Brewing Company, the first being with a bunch of friends who were more ‘beer inclined’, ‘I don’t even need the menu’ sort of people. A minute of stutter with the waiter and we have the usual nachos, fries, their pint and my virgin mojito on the table. This quotidian approach summed up to quite a forgettable experience with a faint memory of a heavy bill.
The second visit happened quite recently, when a friend, someone I look up to for his extraordinary choice in food, invited me over to IBC for a weekday lunch. The Al Fresco seating cloaked in wood is just what you need in the winter sun. A simple yet well crafted ambience for a microbrewery.
The menu at Independence Brewing Company is prodigious with quite a few pièce de résistance. Here’s more on the grub affair at IBC.
In a word, exquisite and deserves all praise and attention for the looks, assortment and flavors. The Tandoori Lamb Chops are so meaty that you would want to rip them right off that shoulder bone. With juiciness intact, the tandoori flavors go bingo with this king appetizer. Next in line is the Chicken Gilafi Seekh. I am not an ardent fan of chicken, so much so that I have had second thoughts on quitting the bird for life. The monotony of chicken just gets to you however, the seekh and chicken is impressively brought together at IBC. I haven’t tried a better done chicken seekh elsewhere. The Lasooni Murgh Tikka and Fish Amritsari do well but lose out to the former two on the platter.
P.S The Tandoor dishes are available only in the evenings, an enquiry before visiting is highly recommended.
Beef Chilly or Beef Fry is a popular recipe down south, more in Kerala. Strips of tenderloin tossed in hot Indian spices is a classic. The meat is well cooked to impart a certain degree of chewiness which is an inherent feature of good beef. IBC does justice and leaves you satisfied with every strip of meat that you gulp down.
I prefer jumbo/large sized prawns to medium or smaller ones. IBC gives you medium sized prawns tossed in a semi-dry butter garlic dressing. I would have liked it to be more moist, if not too mushy. Some bites fall flat due to the aridness.
Adding lemongrass is a breath of fresh air to the otherwise drag chicken satays. With the peanut sauce intact, the satay scores on texture with a medium spiced flavor.
Crispy fried chicken wings in an in-house hot chilli sauce. Fleshy wings which seem to have been handpicked from some really hefty and stout brood of chicken were melt in your mouth. The hot chilli coating is set off beautifully with the blue cheese dip.
I have had the opportunity to savor Chicken Fajitas, true blue Mexican style a few years back (Courtesy, A Mexican Roommate). What was laid on the table at IBC in the name of Fajitas was an exact replica of the one I tried in the past. Open tortilla base with a plethora of assorted cheese and dips and some grilled meat. Originally Fajita was referred to a specific cut of meat, but now we come across vegetarian fajitas also. Ironic.
The Magnum Opus dish. Thinly sliced beef tossed with smokey chilli, onions, green peppers, oodles of melted cheese on the top. IBC bakes their bread in house, even if they didn’t say that out loud, the texture and the distinct appearance of the bread spoke enough. A dish heavy enough to comprise an entire course of a meal. I don’t mind going back just to gorge on this charmer.
Fish not just tossed but marinated in paprika, ginger cilantro, garlic and cauliflower mornay (béchamel sauce with shredded cheese). Owing to the marination, the flavors had seeped down well to the slab of fish. Seafood always has a soft spot, and the roasted chunk is a delight to dig in.
Also grabbed a few Home Fries, handcut and served with a Harissa and Jalapeno Mayo dip. The Corn Chat was run off the mill followed by the Mediterranean Salad where watermelon and feta did the trick. Why Mediterranean I wonder? Possibly because a good dose of olive oil infusion.
The Vegetarian Basket
Yes, after all that meat overload here’s a mention to some vegetarian delicacies which stood out. The Cannelloni was definitely a winner. Soft pasta shells stuffed with vegetable pate, baked to perfection. Spoonfuls of silkiness, literally. Similar to the Non Vegetarian Platter, there is also a vegetarian one on the books to tickle you. The Spicy Cigars (stuffed with cheese and potatoes) and the Ethiopian Samboosa (Mini Samosas with a lentil and onion filling) and Panko Crumbed Stuffed Mushroom (Mushroom stuffed with herbed veggies and cheese and crumb fried) are not to miss.
Well, I regret being on this ‘no sugar’ diet at such times. The most gorgeous looking desserts made way to our table which only had me cursing my stars for not being able to devour them. Since, they remained ‘untasted’ at this Tasting, there is another visit planned very soon to IBC only for this (and the Philly cheese steak). While I only feasted my eyes, the others on the table nodded their head in approval at every spoonful. Judging my instincts and with full faith on the testimony of my co-eaters, here’s the Lemon Orange Tart and Chocolate Souffle to feast your eyes.
With an experience to remember and expectantly laying to rest the ambiguous debate on ‘what a teetotaler does at a brewery?, I hope the write up motivates quite a few of us, who stick to routine and do not turn those pages of that Menu. A big shoutout to Husein Upletawala for being an incredibly gracious host and for giving us one of the most deftly organized tastings this year. Raising my cup of espresso to Team IBC, Cheers!
Disclaimer: This Review is based on a complimentary invite extended by Independence Brewing Company. The opinion expressed in the review is entirely my own and in no manner influenced by any party.