I’m at the cafe chaat. I am at the brewery. I am at the café-brasserie chaat combination.
And that’s not even half the story at Windmills, the Dallas area’s most eclectic new place to eat, drink and, well, everything in between. Windmills is a craft brewery, jazz club, Indian restaurant, art book library, cocktail bar, steakhouse and picnic spot, all bundled together in one self-declared building, with precision , a “total environment”.
This restaurant tries to be a million things at once, and it works most of the time. Lots of great food and beer are served in a fascinating space.
The main dining room is a concert hall floor with a balcony, a bar and a large stage with a Steinway and, along its sides, shelves full of real and decorative books. On one side of the balcony, a row of windows overlooks the brewery’s production space.
The lower dining room has more shelves, this time with all the real books, many of which are volumes of coffee table art and high-priced cookbooks from the world’s fanciest restaurants.
One day I stopped by the bar for a snack and a pint and got absorbed in the library, picking up still shrink-wrapped volumes on Nordic pastry and Mexican haute cuisine, wondering if I had the right to them. to open. (I asked, the answer is yes.)
On the ground floor, the tables are arranged in diamond-shaped booths, so that when a show takes place, everyone can gather on one side to watch. When there’s no live show, prepare to be rocked to one of Texas’ most eccentric playlists. Windmills’ stereo system is coming out blow after blow of decades past, from a collection that might be called “Mostly Latin Retro Bops” or perhaps “Songs My Hippie Elementary School Teacher Played During Reading Time”.
Come for lunch and listen to the bossa nova organ styles of Walter Wanderley and Eumir Deodato, classic tunes from the Buena Vista Social Club, Parisian accordion serenades, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, flamboyant harmonica solos and, to mix it all up, classic American country.
There are also more details to admire in this space, like the slatted ceiling, sound-absorbing tiled walls, the wide-angle view overlooking a man-made lake, and stylish coasters. The whole building is doing its show.
“I feel like I’m in the dining room of a cruise ship,” a friend told me as he took it all in. Then we looked at the menu, presented on an iPad, and he changed his response, “No, it’s more like Epcot.
As a strange flute instrumental cover of “Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘On My Head” hit the sound system, it was time to order.
The beer from the windmills is, overall, pretty darn good. I especially enjoyed a mild, medium dark, and slightly sweet Mexican lager – compare it to Victoria or Bohemia – and a slightly bitter, hoppy but easy to drink lager. The season is pretty good too, and friends have said they’ve enjoyed the porter coffee, which manages to have a strong coffee taste without sacrificing the fact that it’s supposed to taste like beer.
A beer helps to contemplate the food menu, which is long and full of surprises. There are South Asian classics – chaat, grilled kebabs, kulfi – and Texas classics – big steaks, queso, jalapeños stuffed on the breast – in equal measure. There’s a burger topped with chili pepper sauce and a chicken skewer with guava frosting.
As with so many restaurants in the Dallas area, all of the funniest dishes are starters and snacks. Anyone ordering a beer should pair it with kulcha, the ultra-thin stuffed flatbreads. Windmills has several varieties, including Parmesan and Green Chili Kulcha for the spice enthusiast; Our favorite so far incorporates ground beef and spices into the bread ($ 13). Topped with an outrageous amount of black sesame seeds, it’s the perfect partner for a pint.
Seeh lamb skewers marinate with Kashmiri peppers before grilling ($ 17). The ground lamb is cooked, but still tender, served with light green raita and a lightly marinated salad of red onions and carrots. There is nothing quite like a refreshing red onion on a bite of spicy meat.
Better yet, the tikki chaat potato, a beloved street snack full of flavor ($ 11). I will describe it from top to bottom. First and most conspicuously there is a portion of crispy fried potato strings, then under those tamarind and mint chutney swirls and on the sides is a refreshing yogurt stalk. Dig in to reveal diced red onion and tomato, pomegranate seeds, fried chickpeas and, at the bottom of the plate, a spicy potato pancake. It is a perfectly executed pandemonium.
We were more divided over Kerala Beef Fry, Sirloin Stir Fry, Coconut Slices, Shallots, and Curry Leaves served on a rolled flatbread ($ 17). I kept seasoned pieces of meat until they were almost red, while avoiding the dry, chalky pieces of coconut.
Main courses range from fried chicken steak with duck fat sauce to moilee, a Portuguese-Indian seafood stew. We tried the veggie kofta, a huge donut of carrots, potatoes, other vegetables and spices that is cut in half and plated like two twin peaks rising above a pool of sauce ($ 21). This sauce is creamy and buttery, but also loaded with smoked and mashed tomatoes, a tangy and unusual combination.
Our server was very excited about the lamb chops. In fact, he was really and rightfully excited about everything, but the chops were as advertised, full of flavor, perfectly cooked, and delicious ($ 36). The other two items on the plate were acquired tastes: a sweet tamarind glaze on the lamb and a “khichdi risotto” of rice and lentils that had become dry and starchy.
But the successes on the Windmills menu clearly outweigh the failures, and there is much more to try. I only now notice that they have a Hill Country Potato Salad to order with kebabs. All of the food shows the range and quality of Windmills beer.
When we sat at a booth on a Saturday lunchtime our server told us the live music started that night at 9:30 am and then suggested we stay and watch. (In fact, many customers reserve tables for live performances in advance, reserving specific seats like in a concert hall.)
Yet just before we realized that nine more hours at our table would be ridiculous, I looked at the tanks full of beer, the shelves full of books, the plush booths and armchairs, the lake outside. and the snack menu, and I thought, yeah, we could stay.
Windmills, 5755 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony. 972-777-6770, windmills-usa.com. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am-11pm