JKS group are heroes to many of us that love innovative food served in interesting settings. Among restaurants that the Sethi brothers have created or backed are Gymkhana, Hoppers and Trishna. They have even succeeded in the impossible of making food courts cool with Arcade Food Hall on the ground level of Centrepoint and its recently opened sister in the Battersea Power Station.
Brigadiers is a creation of theirs based in the City, in the Bloomberg Arcade, and which seeks inspiration from the army mess bars of India, where officers go to eat, drink and socialise. The place opened five years ago, and is no small boutique, with 140 covers spread between a restaurant and a bar area.
The food describes itself as Indian barbecue, which is probably a good way of describing Indian food much of which is served in a form that we in the West instinctively understand as being finger food. Although not all. I suggest not trying to eat Wood Roasted Sea Bream Pollichathu or Chicken Tikka Butter Masala that way. At least not unless you are eating them with bread rather than rice. But stick with, for example, Afghani Lamb Ribeye Kebab Skewer, Goat Belly Vindaloo Samosas or the Tandoori Lamb Chops and you will be just fine, with the sole qualification that they perhaps understate how hot some of these dishes have been made. Maybe it’s a city testosterone thing, but these dishes have definitely more acquaintance with chilli than your average. Which suits me (more than) just fine, but I thought I should mention it.
Now to the main point here, which is that sitting between the bar and the restaurant, they have a very cool room with a pool table and TVs showing sports events. The table can also be re-arranged for card games I understand. Now this is excellent. Great food, excellent drinks and a pool table. What could possibly be better for a night out with a few old friends?
A drinks machine, that’s what. Because one of the perennial albeit first-world problems with pool rooms is waiting for drinks. Either someone goes off to the bar and you have to wait, stopping the game, for them to return with whatever drinks they have managed not to spill on the way back. Or you press a button or similar and then wait for ages for drinks to come, which causes you to become grumpy and miss a shot, which causes you to become grumpier… well you see where I am going.
Enter the latest JKS idea: self-service drinks machines, one for cocktails and one for beers. No waiting. No spillage. Just insert your card, choose your drink, position glass and pour away. I mean it really is a very, very good idea and every pool room or card room should have one. If the old pool room at the Quo Vadis club had had one we might still be in there now, which would have made the redecoration tricky. The drinks on offer are also excellent: an Old Fashioned, a classic Negroni and an Espresso Martini. Great choice, and genuinely two out of three of my favourite cocktails of all time, albeit I was surprised that the Espresso Martini was as delicious as it was. And then two beers, Cobra Premium and the properly fantastic Kushti Pilsner (an in-house brew, think Indian lager on steroids).
There really is nothing more to say than that this is a fantastic idea, solving an obscure but real problem and must make the pool room at Brigadiers the room of choice in the City and maybe beyond in which to have an excellent evening with friends, while knocking back a few negronis and pints of Kushti to take the heat off the Hyderabadi Jheenga Poori.