Theming has existed for a long, long time in many forms. Take the masked balls of the 18th century for example, or the Pune Comic Con that happened, recently. Madness – a multi-themed multi-cuisine ‘multi-restaurant’ is one such place where one can experience a hospital (The Social Clinic), a louder and more upbeat stand-up comedy pub (Donkey’s Arse) and a Superhero-themed play area replete with Playstations and whatnot (Superheroes) all under one roof. Well, technically.
Our evening was spent at the Social Clinic, which is the quietest of the three places. Now the ‘clinic’ reference comes from the wheelchair-seating in the alfresco area, the servers dressed as nurses and the chemistry set-style beakers et al, that beverages are served in. The Donkey’s Arse is more of a pub-cum-standup-comedy-place, with quirky graffiti on every square inch of the place…And Superheroes is more of a place where mums can hand their kids over to nannies while they chillax downstairs.
So, of all the beverages I sampled,
Nasheeli Lambi Chai (a fruity version of the long island iced tea served in a huge-ass tower and multiple straws. The sharing helped, because this is not one drink you want to drive after downing, given the sheer volume of it and the volume of alcohol in it.
The Pepper Mary was a mildly spicy version of the bloody mary (infused with bell pepper seeds), served in – a pepper ! Full marks for presentation, innovation and if I were into bloody marys, I’d probably dig the drink, too.
There was another non-alcoholic drink served in a flask (passionate kiss) which was probably the best beverage I had there that evening – it was punchy and mildly effervescent, and despite the overly sweet flavor; was surprisingly palatable.
I was also served a red wine which was nice and full-bodied yet smooth and went really well with the mutton seekh kebabs.
Among the appetizers,
The Mix Veg Coriander dimsum was a wow, with the fresh flavors of the coriander infused in the minced veggies, and the dimsum, per se, was very soft, too.
Chilly Garlic Mushroom was pretty good, too – pan fried, lightly crisped mushrooms tossed in a tangy-spicy sauce.
Kundan Mutton Seekh Kebab – succulent, a little moist, and flavorful kebabs; just the way mutton kebabs ought to be. A little heavy if you ask me, so a plate of this is best, shared.
Murgh Kali Mirch – tender chicken pieces marinated long enough so the rich, flavors seep into the meat. The peppery punch was missing, but was rather subtle in my opinion. All the same, a decent appetizer.
Lemon Cilantro Prawns and Chicken and Prawns Gyozas – both were uninspiring preparations that smelled a little funky (possibly due to the use of sea-variety prawns, as against the river variety white prawns). I’m a little finicky when it comes to prawns, so both these preparations put me off.
Among the mains,
The chicken gone mad and the roasted nutty fish were probably the only two preparations that really left a mark, the others failed to inspire me.
The Chicken Gone Mad was a medley of flavors – a rich, thick spicy gravy complementing the smoky chicken and the pan-tossed fresh veggies. The mashed potato made for a nice palate cleanser when the flavors got a little too overwhelming.
Roasted Nutty Fish – tender basa grilled to perfection, garnished with roasted nuts, and served with white rice and pan-tossed veggies. Another good combination of flavors and textures.
Peri Peri chicken pizza – The peri peri punch was missing, the base tasted flat, the sauce didn’t kick it for me either. It was a little to ‘balanced’, and didn’t come on strongly on any single front, the way Pizzas usually do.
Methi Chaman – a decent, thick, flavorful gravy that went well with the breads. Something to call for if you’re undecided on which part of the world you want to go to eat, tonight.
House spice lamb burger – Wayyy to meaty, a little chewy and the patty was almost insipid. Or maybe my palate is a little too commercial to appreciate what the chef was trying, with this burger.
Of the desserts,
The Brownie with Ice cream was to die for – a rich brownie that went well with the dulcet tones of the cream ice cream. A real delight, this.
The gulab jamun brulee was a bold attempt at trying a fusion but still needs some work on the texture
The churros were monotonously cinnammon-ey.
All in all –
Food – 3.5/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5 (full marks for the effort, but the corner seats are unbelievable cramped)
Value for money – N/A (invited)
While the theme is powerful enough to generate interest and curiosity, the food falls slightly short of the semblance it creates. Definitely worth at least one visit, though, especially if you’re looking to chill at an offbeat place at one of the hotter neighborhoods of Pune.