Bar Review: Doolally Taproom, Bandra
What’s the longest you’ve waited for a beer at a bar on a weeknight? Around 9.30pm last Wednesday, we had to endure 40 minutes without one at microbrewery Doolally’s ten-day-old taproom in Bandra. We were expecting the wait, having been warned by friends, who’ve already settled in as regulars. They were right in that there is no telling apart a weekend or week night at the taproom, which opened six months behind its scheduled launch and now runs packed to capacity every day. By the third day of operation, the taproom had run out of beer. According to brand manager Tresha Guha, a weekend’s consumption in Mumbai is equivalent to a week’s sales in Pune.
In our mind, a taproom is typically a little grungy and very raucous. Doolally is only the latter. The bar is a shame-casting level of bright thanks to harsh industrial light pendants slung over blonde wood furniture. Cheeky house rules such as “Food bloggers pay double” and “If your pets poop, you scoop” are Sharpie-d across a spring-green scribble board that covers one section of the bar. Boardgames and novels are also at hand, giving the place the air of a college common room. Doolally has established that beer is the great unifier. Tipplers range from college kids to retirees, both equally proficient in guzzling that is facilitated by the friendly pricing – a pint will set you back Rs250 and a pitcher Rs1,000.
The rates are notably on par with the city’s other two licenced brewpubs, The Barking Deer and The White Owl, but what gives Doolally its edge is its seven-year history of plying beer zealots with popular house brews at its sprawling Pune flagship. It’s this coterie of loyalists that has been thronging the taproom for Doolally’s best-selling cider and Hefeweizen, which will always be on tap at the Mumbai bar. Two other styles will be available on rotation depending on the season. Our table of two was divided over the apple cider; the beer veteran likened it to a basket of apples in the guise of beer and declared it undrinkable on account of its sweetness, while the novice found that very Gold Coin apple juice-like fruitiness appealing. We both agreed that the medium-bodied oatmeal stout was sufficiently smooth but short of Guinness-level creaminess. The Hefeweizen, a cloudy wheat beer is a crowd favourite, but we found it weaker than craft beer supplier Gateway Brewing Co.’s invigorating iteration of the Bavarian wheat brew they call White Zen. Hop lovers will find their bracing IPA on point, while new craft beer converts might shrink from its lingering bitterness.
Once you snag a table and a server, the beers and bar grub flow quickly despite the after-work crush. It’s great that they’ve made an effort to offer equal amounts of local food and internationally-influenced fare. You have beer-battered Bombay duck and Kerala prawns alongside blondue (beer spiked fondue) and burgers, and chicken ghee roast and Goa sausage calzone competing with Caesar salad and mushroom ragout. Their stellar Bombay duck (Rs300) crisped to a golden hue and served with a fiery green chilli thecha partners well with all their beers. On the other hand, the perfectly juicy, curry leaf-flavoured Kerala pepper prawns (Rs450) suffer from the mouth-numbing combination of Kashmiri chilli and pepper, which interferes with the taste of the beer. The house fries (Rs250) are generously portioned but disappointingly rendered as stubby and limp potato fingers that are only somewhat salvaged by the mango salsa, aioli, herbed cheese dip and curry flavoured ketchup served alongside.
If your appetite exceeds your thirst, get the chicken ghee roast (Rs400) listed under mains. The ample ghee oozing from the well-cooked chicken seeps into the side of ‘dirty’ rice giving it a much needed kick of flavour. Skip the three mushroom ragout (Rs350), which comes blanketed in an insipid herbed cream sauce. Whether you focus on the food or the brews, you will leave with an additional ring around your belly.
Prices include taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.
Doolally Taproom Shop No.5/6, Geleki, ONGC Colony, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (West). Tel: 98205 70311. Get directions here. Open daily, from noon to 1am.