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29.10.2018

Does beer loving Bengaluru really need another addition to its microbrewery scene? XOOX Brewmill certainly thinks so. And unlike its more cramped cousins (protip: don’t go to Arbor on a Saturday night if you enjoy sitting down) it gives you plenty of room to indulge in your libations. On a weekday evening, we dodge frazzled drivers on one of Koramangala’s busiest street and slip into its unassuming doors to discover a cavernous ode to ale. Housed in a former mill, XOOX (pronounced “zooks”) is all high ceilings and forest green leather seating. It’s interiors are comfortingly warming on a nippy Luru evening, but we aren’t ready to let al fresco dining go just yet - we settle into the welcoming curve of one of XOOX’s outdoor tables.

Every weekend has a dizzying number of KorzKids floating in and out of this very busy bar, but on a weekday this hot spot settles into something a bit less frantic. Close to a clutch of co-working spaces, it is the perfect setting to have a brew and a bitch with our equally work frazzled dining companion. While they opt for a Japanese Dry Blonde Ale, we keep them some neighbourly company with The Asian Wife, a signature vodka based cocktail with lychee lemony lemongrass notes.

The ale is crisp, bright and immediately refreshing - we feel the day’s problems slip away a few sips in - and a cold contrast to the spicy Thai basil fish cakes that have appeared alongside. The cocktail, however, disappoints: too heavy on the lemongrass and nary a lychee in sight, we find ourselves wishing we had stuck to the beer XOOX boasts of. Instead we drown our sorrows in cheesy bunny chow with assorted mushrooms, which ends up being a gooey cheese fondue marred by a lacklustre bread bowl and some scant mushrooms. We re-focus our attention on the red snapper fish cakes that are zinged up by an instantly addictive tantalising tomato and basil salsa.

Before we can properly contemplate calling for another half dozen, we are interrupted by our entrees - a truffled wild mushroom and feta pide and chicken katsu curry dinner. The katsu comes apart with a crisp crackle, the gravy boat of savoury sauce it is accompanied by eagerly soaked up by the schichimi dusted rice it is nestled in. This is hearty comfort food, perfect to sink into as the night air grows colder. We turn hopefully to the pide - a middle eastern flatbread - only to be deeply disappointed. The promised feta topping is nowhere to be found and the flavoured mascarpone is reduced to a measly garnish, too paltry to even properly taste. This is entirely forgettable fare - more JustBakes than joyous. We wish we had just given in to our fish cake fantasies.

We decide to cap off the evening with the best kind of nightcap - a decadent peanut brownie a la mode. A stylish plate dotted with a wedge of peanut brownie appears, accompanied by a tablespoon of almond ice-cream and a luridly green cream cheese macaron. The brownie is suspiciously fudge like. The ice-cream and mini macaron disappear a lick in. All we are left with is a burst of sweetness that is over too quickly to delight.

This swish new spot might be a hit with the youngins, but do like the veterans and stick to the beer.

Getting There: Head to 8, Koramanagala Industrial Layout, Near HDFC Bank, Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore. It’s right next to the HDFC Bank ATM on the corner. A meal for two will set you back Rs. 2863.

Accessibility: Three low steps down and then a step into the bar. Multiple levels with plenty options to suit a variety of needs.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about food, culture, and discovering your city. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

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