Bar Review: Gateway Taproom, Bandra Kurla Complex
The first thing we thought when we heard that craft beer purveyors Gateway Brewing Co. were finally opening their own taproom was that it was a long time coming. The second thing we thought was: why BKC? The cold glass and chrome facades of the office district are at odds with the relaxed vibe associated with microbreweries. Thankfully, the decor of the Gateway Taproom is simple yet warm, with dark wood high tables and beer garden-style benches, lamps that look like upturned salad bowls, and brick walls painted white apart from a single strip of ochre, the hue of the GBC logo.
The focus here, like at the Doolally Taproom chain, is on the beer, of which they offer double the number GBC sells at restaurants and bars across the city, plus a limited edition beer sold on rotation. From the five permanent new taps (Rs365 for 300ml; Rs440 for 500ml), our favourites are the creamy Guinness-meets-coffee Kaapi Stout; the fresh and roasty Vienna Lager; and, even though we couldn’t detect the pineapple, the spicy Guava Ale, which will appeal to fans of the titular fruit.
Also exclusive to the taproom are four beer cocktails. We tried two. The Ginger and Lime IPA (Rs300) is a grown-up version of Shandy, in which the tartness of the citrus offsets the bitterness of the beer. We ranked it above the Gin Zen (Rs570), a combination of gin and GBC’s hefeweizen White Zen, which is just a headier version of the wheat beer. The brews figure in much of the food menu, which has been created by Café Zoe chef Viraf Patel. From the list of beer-battered fries, we picked the zucchini chips (Rs250), which were so crisp and crunchy that we didn’t miss our standard order of French fries. The chips were accompanied by two sauces, a tangy tomato salsa and an excellent dip made of green tomatoes, green chillies, green apple, coriander and garlic.
Our attendant encouraged us to order the shrimp tortellini (Rs375), which he said is their best-selling appetiser. The dish, which would have been much better had the prawns been fresh, was served with an umami sauce, which lacked the depth of flavour that’s common to GBC’s brews. The waiter also recommended the chicken, jalapeno and cheese (Rs450) from their selection of flatbreads. In this pizza by another name, the blandness of the meat was compensated by the interplay of the fiery peppers and savoury blanket of mozzarella.
A Doppelganger jus, made with their signature dark wheat beer of the same name, is an ingredient in a handful of mains including our order of the Pressed Lamb (Rs660), a rectangular slab of shredded meat that resembles a brownie when topped with the sauce, which is the colour of melted chocolate. The meat itself was under-seasoned but the jus, prepared by caramelising chicken and mutton bones with the beer, contained the kind of rich umami that should have been present in the shrimp tortellini. The best part though was the side of buttery potato mash.
Perhaps because they offer an extensive food menu, the Gateway Taproom is being treated as much as a restaurant as a bar. On a Saturday night, along with couples and groups of women, we saw tables occupied by families with young kids. That the owners are aiming for a wide demographic is evident from the projector screen on which they show sports and the retro playlist of the type one might hear at the now-shuttered Hawaiian Shack.
There’s no DJ; the music is controlled by the BC Jukebox app, which allows users to pick and play tracks from a venue’s stock of tunes. Over the couple of hours we spent at the taproom, we heard everything from ABBA to Duran Duran and from ‘Hound Dog’ to ‘Hot Hot Hot’. We don’t know who was queuing up songs that night, but it’s been years since we heard 1988 new jack swing classic ‘Girlfriend’ by Pebbles and we were grateful for it. And well-played whoever Rickrolled the crowd at 11.20pm. In a neat move, they did it with ‘Together Forever’ instead of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. It’s possible we were the only ones who noticed. You could barely hear the music over the din of conversation. This was just as well when, for a brief half-hour in between, the retro pop switched to electro-pop. Really, a Black Eyed Peas remix has no place in a brewpub.
Prices exclude taxes. They levy a ten per cent service charge.
This review was conducted anonymously. It is our policy to wait a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.
Gateway Taproom, Ground Floor, Jet Airways Godrej Building, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex. Tel: 022 2653 4748. Open daily, from noon to 1.30am. Get directions here.