The place is not what I expected. For one, the building looks somewhat monolithic and looks like it houses the headquarters of a company. Stepping into the pub on the 6th floor (or is it the 7th?), I am taken aback for a moment. Spread out in front of me is a large room (perhaps about 3000 sq.ft.) with tables laid out for the most part. Sofas wrapped around the tables provide for cushy seating. At the far end, there is a slightly raised stage, which appears to be a performance space. I can spot mikes, speakers and other paraphernalia used in live performances. A few wires snake across the stage. The lighting is moderate: neither too dim nor too bright. I see that the walls of the room are covered with bookshelves. There are a number of books on architecture, urban planning and space design. There are books on Business/Management too and in one section, pulp fiction. And amidst all this, are the people seated at the tables. There are people drinking at the bar too.
What surprises me the most is the near-hush that prevails in the room. Even on straining my ears, I manage to catch just murmurs and hints of laughter from here and there. Waiters move about silently, depositing drinks and plates of food. Hello! Have I stepped into a pub or a fine-dine restaurant?!
Across the room from me, I see sliding glass doors that lead to a small terrace. Tables have been laid out too; half of them seem to be occupied.
For a few minutes, I try to find labels to succinctly describe this place, but nothing comes to mind. Clearly, my dear fellow, I tell myself, this is unlike any other public house you have been to in Bangalore (or anywhere else for that matter). It seems like they started out building an architect’s office, changed their mind mid-way to make it a reading room, suddenly decided to allow wining & dining here and finally, thought it a great after-thought to hold live performances here! And so you have a look that is very sophisticated kitsch.
But it is definitely a look that works.
The décor and mood of Windmills Craftworks suggest a large, wood-lined smoking room in a British county manor. Only, it happens to be in Whitefield instead. After a few minutes of mental adjustment, I decide that I like this place. It just takes me some time to get used to the low decibel levels. Why isn’t the drinking crowd raucous like in other bars, I can’t help wondering. Must have something to do with the rich wood panelling and the bookshelves, I suppose.
When I emerge from my rumination, I find that my wife has wisely seated herself at a table on the terrace. This section is starkly different from the room. For one, this is open-to-air. Secondly, the space is punctuated by a number of plants, giving it a lush look. Small water bodies have been carved out on the floor next to the pathways. At one end of the terrace, I can see the microbrewery encased by a glass wall. The terrace is not large, but it is lovely.
Our table gives us a reasonably good view. In one sweep of the eye, we can take in the IT complex located across the road, a park and several trees. And then, there are the buildings under construction, their tower cranes eerily silhouetted against the darkening sky. A cool breeze is blowing. Since they can’t smoke indoors, people keep coming out to the deck for a few drags before returning to their tables.
We are thirsty and place our first orders on a wi-fi enabled tab (an impressive touch that makes for smooth and efficient ordering). We first ask for the Hefeweizen (for me) and Golden Ale (for the wife). She wants to begin with something very light; so, the Golden Ale is the obvious choice. Its floral character stands out, while the base is crisp and refreshing. My Hefe is a wheat beer with distinct notes of clove and banana. I love how they hit my palate together, producing a wonderful effect.
Finishing this, the wife wants to have a cocktail. So, she orders an Asian Mary, while I have their summer special mango-infused beer (I forget the name). While my beer is interesting, the taste of mango is too faint. It is supplanted by the strong, sour notes of orange. I find this strange, because the name led me to expect more mango in it. The beer lacks the light, summery freshness I had expected. But a few pulls later, I say what the heck and make peace with it. I realise it is an acquired taste and even begin to like it. My wife, on the other hand, finds it impossible to make peace with her drink. The cocktail she has been handed tastes like vegetable juice. The flavour of vodka is buried somewhere deep under several leaves, shoots and capsicum juice. She is having to wade through a mini forest to get to the alcohol! We promptly give our feedback to Suraj, who is serving us, and he graciously agrees to spike the drink with more vodka. When it comes back, it is definitely better, but the strong taste of leaves doesn’t go away. Overall, a disappointing concoction.
After these are finished, we split a Stout (which is just as stout as Stout should be) and another Hefeweizen between us. Both go down well.
We don’t feel like eating much; it is a ‘drinking’ kind of evening. So, a plate of Nachos (topped with mayonnaise, salsa sauce and herbs), some Ragatoni Pasta and Honey Chilli Potatoes are all that we have. The food is very good, though the vegetarian entries in the menu are limited. The non-veg section is expansive, which is good.
Much like the beer, our conversation flows smoothly for the next couple of hours. The deck is perfect for the night. Service is silent and efficient. Inspite of the Friday-evening crowd, the serving staff manages to get our orders fairly quickly. They smile a lot and are easy to converse with. I like that. The outdoor ambience of the deck definitely helps enhance our mood.
And oh, there is the occasion too. You see, it is our twelfth wedding anniversary!
In sum: Windmills Craftworks in Whitefield-Bangalore is a great place for a quiet drink or five, especially if you love beer. Their Golden Ale, Hefeweizen and Stout are very good. The place pleases on food, beer, service and ambience. Prior reservation is recommended, because it is a popular place that fills up soon. If you go in the evening, try to snag a table on the deck. Just remember that the mood is more muted than that of a typical pub. And boy, they have to work on their cocktails!
Food: 3.5/5 (good food, but more veg options needed)
Cocktail (Asian Mary): 3/5
Ambience: 4/5 for the deck; 3.5/5 for the indoor section.