Monday, September 18, 2017

Brewery Bhavana Bolsters Raleigh Dining Scene With Curious Blend Of Food, Beer And Atmosphere

Do a brewery, bookstore and florist shop belong together? Heck, yes! Brewery Bhavana has burst on the Raleigh dining scene as one of the country’s best new restaurants.

A New Triangle Destination

One of the reasons we relocated to the Raleigh area is the great dining and entertainment scene. So we were delighted when friends Linda and Eric invited us to check out Brewery Bhavana, the hottest new eatery in North Carolina’s Triangle region.

So difficult is it to get reservations, that our reservations were at 5:15. So funky is Brewery Bhavana that arriving at an early hour with time to browse around is a good thing.

Brewery Bhavana, owned by brother and sister duo  Vanvisa and Vansana Nolintha, combines a tap room, flower shop and book store. The restaurant opened in March and has been named one of the top new restaurants (number 10) in the United States by Bon Appétit. The Nolinthas are the team behind the popular Bida Minda Laotian restaurant next door.

Floating Zen Garden Of Tranquility

Now, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a floating Zen garden of tranquility – but that’s what the interior design of Brewery Bhavana brought to mind. It has a clean aesthetic with round lighting globes and an organic looking chandelier. Even the tap room has smooth granite lines with tap handles protruding from the wall sans tacky beery advertising. The flower shop and book store blend seamlessly into the dining space, bringing strikingly beautiful flowers and quirky and fascinating books into the dining experience.

We enjoyed the chic but not ostentatious setting while waiting for Eric and Linda. They got hung up in traffic, and so we browsed the book selection and ordered a couple of beers.

Beers at Bhavana are brewed under the guidance of Patrick Woodson at their private production brewery down the street. They have 10 core beers and a slew of provisional beers to round out their 40 taps.

I started with Plow, an American Pale Ale that they term a “gracious pale ale.” The Green Dragon opted for the Sow, a Belgian Pale Ale. These were fresh and frothy, just what we needed to take the edge off a long day.

Dim Sum Dynamics

The specialty of Brewery Bhavana, aside from its beer, is dim sum. Dim sum is Chinese “small bites” usually served in steamer baskets or small plates. In other words, they are perfect for tapas-style sharing.

When the rest of our party arrived, we ordered a first round of dishes. When visiting tapas restaurants, we’ve found its good to order a few dishes to start – if it’s obvious that everyone is famished and the food is disappearing rapidly, you can order more. What we like about dim sum and tapas, is that it is more social. Everyone is trying the same thing as opposed a meal where everyone gets one dish and someone might get stuck with a bummer entrée.

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Our first volley included pan-fried shrimp and corn cakes with ginger and a chive sauce, edamame and ginger dumplings, chicken curry bao and Jiaozi chicken dumplings. Perfectly hydrated with ample beers, we began to sample the cuisine. All the dishes were impeccably plated and our eyes enjoyed the artistry before we dug in. We gamely tried the chopsticks, but for some of these dishes, they needed an assist from the knife and fork.

The shrimp and cork cakes were winners as was the chicken curry bao dumplings. The chicken curry dish offered a pop of heat at the end, and so was a great match with our beer (who knew?). Eric is a fan of heartier beers and his selections included the Imperial Stout, deep and dark with a slightly sweet taste. Linda tried the Wilt, a cherry-smoked quadrupel beer with an enchanting smoked flavor.

We had a second round of dim sum and this time our choices included spinach curry puffs and my favorite of the evening, scallion pancakes with oxtail in bone marrow and coconut-soy jam. This latter dish pushed all the right buttons. The marrow was artfully blended with the jam to create an explosion of flavor that was a spot on pairing with the pancakes.
The pancakes provided a contrast in flavor and textures.

The food, service and décor of Brewery Bhavana strikes the right balance of being upscale, but accessible – a cool place for outstanding craft beer after work, or the destination for a special dinner out. We raise our chopsticks in salute and give our hearty recommendation.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the review! I had a chance to check out Brewery Bhavana last spring. Agreed, great food and solid beer selection. I found the decor a little too eclectic, over time I think they need to identify one main theme and stick to it. But, that didn't detract from the dining and drinking. And, as you noted, it's interesting to look at!

Dave Nershi, CSW said...

That might be what captured the attention of critics. We enjoyed the multi-sensory experience and look forward to return visit.

Thanks for weighing in, Kurt!