A walk along the arches

So, this evening, there were beers with Dan and Ebz and Charles and after a brief flirtation with the Alchemist (where we didn’t go, since the bar was three deep and they might be good at cocktails but they’re really, really slow at cocktails and so I didn’t fancy waiting fifteen minutes just to get to the bar) and the Bureau (who are also good at cocktails, and sell an interesting Czech lager with a picture of the brewery on the glass (and while I’m on the subject, why does every bar feel it necessary to sell me Beer X in a Beer X-branded glass these days? I really don’t care, bar staff of the world. Don’t feel like you have to)), we descended upon the Indian Brewery in their new place under the arches. Honestly, up to now, I’d tried their Birmingham Lager in cans (perfectly nice), and that was it; I’d never been to their bar. And it’s fabulous. I was vaguely peckish before getting there but I probably wouldn’t have bothered with anything; I flirted with the menu in Bureau but was basically ungrabbed by whatever it is that grabs me about menus. And then we piled out of the cab (which we’d got in to save Ebz and her tottery heels; obviously Sport Dan would have walked the distance to get there but I was quietly glad of not having to) into Indian and the delectable smell of the place completely turned me around. Twenty feet from the place I was mildly thinking about food; six feet from the door I was ready to eat a horse, and one of my companions, and possibly a road sign. This is a place that knows how to capitalise on the weaknesses of their punters. On the way in the door we we interrupted by a chap who, tactfully, hasn’t skipped many lunches, who asked us: are you eating? Yes, we all said, salivating. And this helpful chap cleared away a small end of a table — the Indian Brewery interior is organised as a batch of wooden benches, like the ones you get in a pub garden. So if you’re not eating, he’ll find you a space to sit in between others; if you are, he’ll find you a slightly larger block, possibyl by elbowing those already there. And the friendliness doesn’t end there. Everything, from the Bollywood posters on the wall to the attitude of the staff and the casual, no-frills nature of the layout exudes friendliness; it feels welcoming, like someone took the concept of welcomingness and distilled it out of the air into an atmosphere that pervades the whole place and stepping into it feels like a hot bath. And the Fat Naan is utterly delightful. “Are you sure you want a whole fat naan to yourself?” asked Dan. Yes. Yes, I was sure. And I was right. It was bloody delectable. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. Good beers (and a good selection of beers, moreover, which I wasn’t expecting), great Indian food, friendly staff. If you want more from a place, I can’t see what it is that you want.

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