03 November 2016

Giruz Bakery and Cafe

I recently had the opportunity to visit Giruz Bakery at Baani Square (Sector 50) for lunch and bread tasting during their soft opening. I have been eagerly awaiting their opening as there is a dearth of unique bread shops here in Gurgaon. I can easily find white or whole grain sliced breads, but few groceries offer speciality breads more than just a baguette or croissants, choosing to focus more on pastries than the wide array of tasty bread options. I previously tried L'Opera (at Galleria Market in DLF Phase 4 of Gurgaon and Hauz Khas Village in South Delhi) and the DLF Phase 5 Club bakery (on the ground floor of the main building near the central sitting area). L'Opera was hailed by my French friend (living in Bangalore with even less options than here) as fantastic and a much needed reminder of home. They have an excellent selection of pastries, specialty jams, and an array of teas, if you're into that kind of thing. The baguette and croissants are both quite good - their website boasts of several additional options that I have never seen fresh in the shops, but that could just because I don't make it over early enough to indulge. My parents loved their chocolate pastry.
Post-sightseeing snack at L'Opera Hauz Khas
I've only bought baguettes from the Phase 5 Club, and they were fine. However, their website also lists a number of bread options, most of which are gone by the time I stop in. I clearly need to prioritize my bread shopping! My problem is that I don't eat baguettes nearly fast enough and by nature they go stale and hard almost immediately. However, I learned from Giruz that in order to avoid wastage you should immediately freeze whatever you won't eat within the day. You can then later defrost piece by piece and they're just as fresh. 

What I didn't realize when I dropped into Giruz's bakery was that they also have a small cafe. I visited during their taste testing phase so they did not yet have a set menu and I was treated to a wide array of dishes they were testing on customers. Full disclosure: I did not pay for this meal (I did purchase my breads and cakes though); the owner is a friend who invited me for taste testing. I did not receive any compensation for this review and she did not ask me to write this - she just knows I love fresh bread and hopes I'll become a loyal customer.

Baani Square, while most consider it "out of the way" since it's not on Golf Course Road and is closer to Sohna Road, it's actually quite conveniently located next to the Hilton Garden hotel on Vikas Marg near Hibiscus and Nirvana Country. I live in Phase 5 and it's a short 10 minute drive most times of the day. There is a vast array of restaurants in this small shopping arcade. Other than Giruz, I've visited their fast food version of Lebanese food, Lub Lub (also quite good). I've also heard good things about The Spice Lab and Big Wong, but can't personally vouch for them. Giruz is located on the ground floor central section opposite Big Wong. They are a small and cozy cafe, with smart French country decor. If you still find it daunting to venture over yonder, Giruz also offers delivery options.

I started with vada pav, the pav, of course, was made fresh in house. It differs slightly from the traditional version in that the pakora, while still made from fried mashed potato batter, seasoning, and curry leaves, was not drenched in oil like most fried foods here. The sauces add another twist, with a topping of red chili sauce and a green coriander, ginger, garlic, and onion masala chutney. 
Fresh vada pao
Bruschetta on a French garlic bread baguette

Next up was some bruschetta on a toasted French garlic bread baguette. As this was their time to experiment with tastes and recipes, the chef added a twist of some chopped up olives to the traditional tomato and basil drizzled with olive oil which didn't strike my fancy since I despise olives (weird since I adore olive oil), but was good overall. Both crunchy and savoury with not too much oil or topping that the bread becomes soggy. My friend was not thrilled with the addition either, so I imagine if you order this dish today you'll get a more traditional version.

Garlic cheese toast on a toasted French baguette

Garlic cheese toast are three words that I love to hear together. It is super popular in India and they have their own take on it, which usually involves chilies. I personally prefer a more traditional garlic cheese bread (not everything has to be hot spicy) and was happy to find that Giruz's head chef had drizzled roasted garlic pieces on top of the melted cheese, ensuring garlicky goodness in every bite.

For something a bit more filling, the chef prepared his own special recipe of butter chicken with coleslaw on foccacia bread. It was served with thin crispy fries, salted to perfection. It was by far my favorite dish. The foccacia bread was to die for. The bread was crisped on the outside and soft on the inside and topped with herbs and homemade sundried tomatoes. I'm not usually a fan of butter chicken as it is usually sweetish rather than savoury, but without the sugar laden gravy and the addition of the chef's specialty coleslaw, it was delicious! The coleslaw was not your traditional cabbage and vinaigrette mix, but instead had a kick to it. I'm assuming that was from the gherkin (dill pickle) and pineapple, but it also included a mix of capsicum (bell peppers) and homemade egg-free mayo. If you are pure veg, you could easily order this is a side dish.

Butter chicken coleslaw sandwich
Already getting full, but eager to continue tasting, I forced myself to try the next two dishes. The chicken penne pasta was topped with fresh parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley. It was fine, but the plum tomato sauce was slightly sweet for my taste (I find that I can tolerate sugars less and less, so don't take my weird tastebuds to be the end all be all) and could have used some more crushed black pepper and parmesan. Fortunately my friend is British and shares my love of black pepper (I don't think most Indians appreciate freshly ground black pepper nearly enough since it's not on the spicy end of the pepper spectrum) and cheese so this was oversight was quickly rectified. I also loved the thin crust chicken and capsicum pizza. You could really taste the fresh ingredients and it was the perfect combination of spicy and crunchy. (I did clarify to the chef that, despite my pasty skin tone, I do appreciate spicy food just as much as an Indian. So if you are a pale face like me who loves the spice, make sure to let them know because most will assume you can't handle the heat and bring you the bland boring version.)
Thin crust chicken and capsicum pizza

Chicken penne pasta

To finish it off I even tried their "famous" brownie topped in powdered sugar seated on chocolate sauce with my cappuccino. I'm no expert on sweets, but it was nice and not too thick or dense. It was purposefully crispy on top and gooey in the middle - I'm told that's how brownies should be, but they typically get dried out in the process of trying to get the top crispy. It also wasn't overly sweet like so many desserts in this country. I could definitely have a bite of this again...

Before heading home I bought the mixed herb bread and a French baguette - while I was sitting there a customer cleaned them out of a large amount of bread so make sure to go early to find a larger selection - as well lots of cake (it was my friend's birthday and I didn't know which kind of cake she liked so I just bought one of each). The herb bread was gone almost immediately after Curry Delight got his hands on it. I had a couple of pieces and went back for more only to discover he'd already devoured the loaf. The cakes were reportedly amazing. The red velvet cake especially was a big hit.

Cake and pastries
Fresh baked bread

The staff was knowledgeable and friendly, providing excellent service to all who entered. This is a great addition to the Gurgaon food scene and I will definitely be back as a paying lunch customer to try more of their cafe selections as they grow and change their menu seasonally. I'm hoping that they will also expand their offerings to include some fresh cheeses to complement their bread selection. I encourage all Gurgaon bread lovers to drop in and pick up as much fresh baked bread as you can carry!

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