We Idliwale Barroom Food Review: This Pune Restaurant Serves South Authentic Indian Dishes With A Twist

We Idliwale Barroom Food Review: This Pune Restaurant Serves South Authentic Indian Dishes With A Twist

A meal at the recently launched eatery in Pune's happening Balewadi neighbourhood is a great way to get authentic southern treats paired with great alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Thursday, February 08, 2024, 04:00 PM IST
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Nibbles |

It is a rare occurrence that good food and resounding appreciation come together. The Pune food scene has always been a point of discussion. The discerning Puneri foodie is looked at as the benchmark of good taste. And it is in this city that I discovered an eatery with food so good that it demands my appreciation.

We Idliwale has, in the last few years, garnered praise for its authenticity in South Indian cuisine. It has now gone one notch up by opening the We Idliwale Barroom in the very much happening Balewadi neighbourhood. Located near Balewadi High Street, it serves South Indian food or flavours with a slight twist at times and paired with unique alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

They draw their inspiration from Bangalore's pub culture where they serve South India chow with beer, just like the toddy shop culture in Kerala. While you get authentic tastes in the food, you also find their versions of some of the dishes. The high point is the pairing of idlis with main veg and non-veg courses and their beverages that have South Indian elements and combinations to create a fusion unheard of.

 Central bar with  channapatna beads background

Central bar with channapatna beads background |

The place is spacious yet not huge. You see the elements that hark back to their food roots. But it has a contemporary touch. There are elements like terrazzo, athangudi tiles and stainless steel plates used near the lighting. I liked the use of channapatna beads near the central bar which also has a stainless steel countertop. It has a neat look to it and all combinations of seating arrangements are possible here. I was pleased to hear some good old softly played English numbers from the 80s and 90s. Conversations over food have a high chance.

A good cup of Filter Coffee is how I started the course. And it was as authentic as it gets. The right amount of coffee and milk served in the typical tumbler was what I needed after travelling to the place. We were informed the coffee came from a farmer in Karnataka. In came the starters which had us gorging. The Peanut Sundal, which was boiled peanuts with coconut and curry leaves tadka along with bedgi chilli, felt like a great starter for any alcoholic beverage. The delicate flavour stayed in my mouth.

Filter Coffee

Filter Coffee |

I also tried the assorted papads with four in-house pickles (chicken, tomato, mango and chilli). Each was distinct and just had me hooked. No one pickle was similar. I personally loved the chicken one which was not overpowering.

One of the dishes that made me happy was the Cut Sausages. There were two options – Chicken Ghee Roast and the Mutton Pepper Fry. Have it with the beer or drinks. The succulent sausages make you want to keep on eating. I loved the mutton option in which the pepper was just the right amount.

Then came the delectable Podi Bacon which was just heavenly. Fried to perfection and lightly coated with malgapodi masala, there was a sweetness in the mouth thanks to the bacon which paired well with the masala. I loved having it with the Sunny Afternoon (Neipa) on tap beer.

Then, there were Banana Beetroot Cutlets which were coated with rava and served with Garlic Yoghurt Dip and Bedgi Hot Sauce. You would never figure out the ingredients from the taste. The combination of the cutlets with the two sauces was perfect.

Haldi High Ball

Haldi High Ball |

The Pork Rib Vindaloo, which is slow-cooked ribs in Kerala-style vindaloo, is a winner for me. We were told the ribs were marinated for two days and slow-cooked for six hours. And you know the amount of thought gone into it when you take a bite. The meat is tender enough and the vindaloo masala is lip-smacking. You notice the meat has got the masala to its core. Be careful since it is filling. If you want to try out other items, go slow on this. Chances are you might not.

Two of the co-founders, Abhishek Joshi (also the chef) and Chirag Jadhav have South Indian connections and therefore know their food well. Due to their frequent Bengaluru trips, they have paid tribute to the city in their Andhra Chilli Chicken. It is a Bengaluru classic and Nagarjuna-inspired. It gives a Chinese sauce feel to it. You feel the chillies despite the use of fewer chillies. The Mutton Pepper Fry is a toddy shop classic presented for fine diners. The well-cooked mutton is high on pepper and just the way you would find it at any toddy shop.

Before I forget again, all the main courses were paired with idlis and appams. We never thought that Idlis go with anything apart from sambar and chutney. We Idliwales Barroom will remove all the misgivings since they have figured out the perfect pairing. You can try dosas, idlis, appams, parotta, egg appam, idiyappam and ghee rice options.

Yam Rawa Fry

Yam Rawa Fry |

The Yam Rawa Fry was not a bad option. The rectangle-shaped cutlet has a subtle flavour and tastes great only with the dips for those who love their spices. On its own, it acts as a buffer between the dishes filled with flavour. The Sweet Potato Fries were an interesting option since we usually go for the regular fries. The sweet potato sweetness gave a different kick.

Since I was already trying so many dishes, I rushed through the dishes. The Pandi Curry is slow-cooked pork shoulder Coorg style. It was as authentic as one can get. The Drumstick Soup, which was pressure-cooked drumsticks with lentils and spices, can be called a wholesome soup that had a good combination of coconut milk, spices and drumsticks. It might remind a few of the tisrya masala taste. Also, try the Idli Mutton Saru, a Kundapur-style curry served with idlis. The taste is similar to the curries served in Goan or Karwari homes. The curry and idli combo here is a winner again.

Since We Idliwale Barroom is all about having authentic southern taste with drinks, there was quite an array to try. A suggestion would be to ask the bartender or waiting staff for the right drinks to go with your food. The Haldi Highball is a gin-based drink with a hint of haldi, lime and tonic. While you can get the taste of turmeric, it does not overwhelm you and you can appreciate the cocktail. The Raw Mango Picante is exactly how it reads. The raw mango in the tequila with amchur on the rim was a potent combo. Heady and tangy is what you taste. Quite smashing, to be honest!

All Spice Gimlet

All Spice Gimlet |

The All Spice Gimlet, with a combination of gin and allspice cordial, is a drink that will pep you up. The Tamarind Whiskey Sour was another tangy option that many would like. It contained tamarind puree and some orange. I loved the tanginess in the whiskey. The Tamarind Pisco Sour was another winner for me. The pomegranate flavour went well with pisco.

Stomachs were full. But when the dessert came, I could not resist. I fell in love with the Filter Coffee Éclair. Mildly flavoured and well-made eclairs ensure you can taste the filter coffee and chocolate sauce over it. The sauce was right and did not overpower the éclair's subtle flavour.

Tender Coconut Payasam, Filter Coffee Éclair and Elayappam

Tender Coconut Payasam, Filter Coffee Éclair and Elayappam |

Vegans will be happy to note the Tender Coconut Payasam. The well-prepared Payasam tasted just as the authentic one would. I also loved the Elayappam. It was banana sheera made with jaggery and served in a tart. Talk about being innovatively tasty.

What I noted and was also told later was the authentic aspect of everything involved in making the dishes. A thorough research has gone into deciding and preparing each dish. I was told the masalas are made in-house. Most ingredients are procured locally or directly from the farmers in the south. The meat (chicken, mutton and pork) is carefully sourced by the founders. The same goes for the veggies. Careful thought has gone into the bar as they want to offer unique and very Indian tastes to the drinks.

We Idliwale Barroom is an option I would suggest to those looking for authentic flavours, some twists and a lot of good food. It is worth the visit and money.

Price for two: Rs 2,000 (without cocktails) and Rs 3000 (with alcohol)

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