In the recently concluded Sunburn 2016, that also happened to be the 10th edition of sunburn, it was a great experience not only because of it is one of the best music festivals in the country but also because Pune was the chosen destination. This definitely gave a reason for Punekars like me to revel in this 4 day musical extravaganza.
We tumbled into the back of the car and made our way up, through the knotted hill, turn after turn, trepidation in our hearts, waiting to witness the grandiose. It was my favourite DJ Axwell’s performance that day and I couldnt wait to see him perform. The bands were to be collected from the box office that was stationed downhill. But thanks to Smirnoff, they ensured we got the bands which saved us a good 1 hour of sweating it out in the queue. A big thank…
What do you get when you put rock music, retro themed décor and a Pune-inspired North-Indian/Oriental menu in a mixing bowl and dress it with a good helping of Bira and other great beverages? You get a classic afterhours haunt is what. Two carefully curated storeys worth of Vinyls, wooden furniture and cushions are what make up Wynkk, a somewhat new entrant in the rather long list of Pune’s evening hangouts. The good part is that they seem to know what they’re doing; the location is strategic, the food menu is basically everything that sells alongside a good, punchy brew and service is quick…ish. The parking space, or lack thereof, seemed to me like the only downer here. This place kinda grows on you the more time you spend here and one does tend to lose track of time a lot at a place this laid-back. I, on one hand, spent the better part of three hours here before realizing that I have a home to return to but that’s what lounges are all about, right?
Anywho, so Bira seemed to be the only beer on tap at the time (the place was still finding its feet when I’d visited). Bira white is my personal favourite with its characteristic smooooooth Belgian character and the citrus-ey aromas so I called for a few rounds. Now we Indians never have alcoholic beverages without a good serving of fried food on the side so I called for their best –
Golden pouches (Chicken) – Just the way I like ’em; perfectly crisped, and juicy on the inside. I made sure to dunk them nicely in the sauces available for that extra zing and recommend you do, too!
Tamarind chilly fish – Now, this was something that was pretty neat just by itself; the tamarind was more evident than the chili but very agreeably so.
Honey chilly corn potato – I’m partial towards potatoes so I’ll always say nice things about potato preparations. My bias aside, this particular dish was still a great thing to pair with the beer. Goodbye peanuts.
Golden pouches (Veg) – And I thought the veg sibling wouldn’t be as good. Flavorful, succulent paneer and veggies in the same, amazing deep fried, crispy coating.
Kanda bhajji – I have unreasonably high standards when it comes to Kanda bhajji, so nothing that’s made outside of home comes close. Then again, I don’t recall any other place that has ‘Kanda bhajji’ in its menu and serves Bira. Not even home.
Tandoori Prawns – Juicy, charred just right and soaked through in their in-house marinade. Paired excellently with the chutney served with it.
Chicken tikka – Can’t really go wrong with this, right? These little morsels were also done just right.
Chin Mai Chicken – The soy glazing and other flavors were alright, but somehow I felt like there was a little room for improvement here in the texture area.
Chicken in Plum Sauce – batter fried and lightly tossed in a piquant sauce with crunchy peppers; another great whip-up from the Wynkk kitchen.
While this much was more than my extended appetite could handle, Mr. Shrikant (owner/manager) urged me to try their Kheema Pav which I hear is quite nice as well. Obviously this wasn’t going to be my last trip to Wynkk so I promised them I’d come back for it. And I will. Next year. Soon as I’ve had enough of English breakfasts and afternoon teas.
All in all –
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5 (could be a little quicker, though)
Ambieince – 4/5
Value for money – N/A (invited)
Barflies rejoice, ‘coz binge drinking just got frugal ! Here with a tangibly evident model based on economies of scale is Bar Bar, a neat ol’ evening-only joint in the heart of Viman Nagar that has all the options you’ll want on that night out with your bevda buddies. Then there’s the deafening speakers and the long-enough list of bar-bites as well, so you can rest assured that your Friday nights are sorted. Oh, and Wednesday nights, too. And Monday nights. Aaaand Thursday nights. Let’s not forget Tuesday nights. And who doesn’t want to get out of the house on the weekend?
Anyway…so, cut to 15th June – our band of lukkhas are at Bar Bar. Seeing as how our group had hijacked most of the bar area, the other guests were forced out into the more ‘personal’ outdoor area which was less suited for large groups and more for the tête-à-tête kinda meets. I’m all for neon lights and loud progressive house so obviously, I was happy where I was – indoors.
Social hugs and awkward hellos all done, we got straight down to business –
First came the Lynchburg – a swimmingly potent mix of Jim Beam, vodka Triple Sec and Ginger Ale. No surprise that most of us ordered (and loved) this little monster.
I also sampled some of my friend’s Spiced Guava Mocktail which was pretty good, too. The glass was rimmed with masala and the beverage itself was well-spiced so the flavors ended up skewed towards the hotter end of the spectrum. Nothing I couldn’t handle, though.
DIY Basket of Fries –
I’m a huge fan of everything potato so you’re going to get the usual ‘OMG this was sooo freakin’ awesome’ rant from me so let me skip the charades. But seriously, this was like sooo awesome !! The dips were killer, each with their own character and different types of fries to pair them with. Oh, the adventure of it all ! #OkEnoughMelodrama
Pork Cuchifritos – I had to be told, like a few others that we’d just downed pork. All the flavors and none of that very typical porky after-smell. If you’re into pork, you’ll not be disappointed.
Buttermilk Chicken Popcorn –I had great expectations from this one but was a little let down, to be honest. The texture was a little off, which is pretty much everything for me, when I’m having buttermilk-chicken. Shame, really.
Vada Pav – Interesting little micro Vada-pavs, these. Not too far from the real deal, too. Which is the best part. I mean, your favorite cocktail, at a bargain, with Vada Pav on the side? To me, that’s awesome.
Mysore Vada – There’s definitely a really dexterous Anna in the kitchen somewhere; I’m sure of it ! These little babies were PERFECT ! Perfect texture, mild flavors and a potent chutney to go with it – Bar sides seldom get better than this.
Shrimp Popcorn – another light-bite of a snack; the subtle flavors were very well complimented by the piquant dip served alongside.
Toasties – for when you’re in the mood for a slightly more ‘real’ meal.
Ham and Chilli Cheese – I’ll call a pass on this one, unlike the other pork preparation. It was a little too confusing for my palate and did have that very typical ‘porky after-smell’ that puts me off. But that’s just me.
Kung Pao Chicken – smoky, perfect textured chicken bits with evidently oriental flavors from the spring onions and whatnot. Very much recommended.
The Mexican – Kidney Beans, Cheddar, Jalapenos, Nachos – is there anything stereotypically Mexican that I missed? No? This one has everything thrown in together into a delicious mix between two slices of bread. Me likey.
Then there was the Pahadi Paneer Paratha; basically a really nice roll – the paratha was perfectly flaky and the paneer tasted of generous amounts of mint-coriander. Made for a really delicious standalone meal option, really.
Aaaand then there were the tiffins, which I don’t really get, to be brutally honest. I get the concept of a full meal and all, but somehow after downing half a litre of a really potent cocktail (which is their USP, by the way – the potency of their drinks, I mean) I didn’t feel anything like ‘ghar ka khana’ by a loooong shot. I mean the appetizers had done their thing already, see? So I’ll sum it up for you in as few words as I can – the Happy Ending is an ‘unusually spicy for Thai’ meal (those who don’t get the Thailand reference need to go back to pre-school where they belong), the Lovely Singh ka Dabba is a rather good Punjabi meal (Butter Paneer and Chapaati) and the Irrfan’s Dabba was a Chicken Biryani-based dabba that I just heard of but never saw.
I’m not sure why but we ended our meal with a beer, but we did. It was my first time having an Amigo and I realized in one sip what I’d been missing. Pale gold with nearly no head, muted carbonation and limey aromas. Couldn’t pick up the tequila that was supposed to be in there but the beer was still awesome, nonetheless.
Oh yes, I remember why we ended with a beer. No desserts. That’s why. Tsk Tsk.
Anywho, on the ‘overall experience’ front, I left the place much happier than I was when I entered. Totally worth the experience, if you ask me !
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5
Value for money – N/A (invited) But this is the whole point of it, so….
Here to bring new meaning to the word, ‘Fast Food’, is the brand spanking new Breaking Bread Food Truck, licensed to park and serve on ITI Road, Aundh. If you’re in the area and looking to indulge in greasy debauchery on a budget, start looking for a parking spot ASAP, ‘coz this son-of-a-bun serves some pretty mean burgers and fries. Sure, the menu may be all of one whiteboard’s worth of fancy names but all of it still packs quite a punch.
By the time I’d arrived (7:45 PM), they were already out of their famous Kokum Mojito which is a shame, really because I was SOOOO looking forward to have some. I convinced myself I could always come back, so no tears were shed.
There was a pretty big serving of HOT MESS being dived into, which was basically fries with spicy beans in fresh salsa with cheese and sour cream garnished on top. Nice and tangy, but needs to be finished ASAP to avoid getting the fries all soggy. Not that its impossible, mind you. In fact our serving was literally gone in 60 seconds.
Next came the carnivore’s version of the same preparation – the CHICKEN IN A MESS. Pretty much the same piquant flavors, but soaked to the bone in the tender little chicken pieces. The flavors clearly came out more in this version and the textures were more interesting, too.
The Jerk came next. No, not a literal Jerk, but a JERKED CHICKEN BURGER – The Jamaican Jerk spice HAD to be accompanied with a pineapple slaw, which was classic, if you ask me; and the tart from the chipotle mayo definitely helped. Me likey.
The toasties followed
PUNE TOASTIES –If you’re missing your college canteen’s Classic Veg (potato) Toast, this is the answer to that craving. Fair to say it was average at best. I wasn’t impressed mainly because there were so many other options that were so much better.
CHICKEN TOASTIES – Safe to say this version was better – both, in terms of texture and the slightly stronger flavors; I’m almost beginning to sense a pattern here…are you? #MeatRocks
And then came the more serious burgers
CAJUN COTTAGE CHEESE POTATO BURGER – The texture of the patty was Amazeballs –supremely soft, melt-in-your-mouth grade minced paneer generously seasoned with a piquant Cajun spice-mix. Loved it !
GOAN CHICKEN BUN – Vindaloo-style chicken generously stuffed between soft, soft buns. The punch from the vinegar was very much there, although I would’ve liked it to be just a little bit stronger. Then again, that’s a personal preference.
But wait. I’m not done yet.
There was a BANOFFE SANDWICH, too!
I really had high hopes from this, because I’d seen a Nutella Jar somewhere inside the truck but the Peanut butter kinda blew it, for me. Again, that’s ‘coz I’m not really a peanut butter guy. It was not bad or anything, but it could’ve used a little more Nutella and a little less Peanut Butter, IMO. Proportions, that’s all.
All in all, I think we’ve got ourselves a set of wheels all set to make waves. If only the weather and the traffic scene were a little more forgiving !
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – N/A? (There literally isn’t an ambience – there’s 2 stools. Period)
Value for money – N/A (invited, but the prices were absolutely reasonable for the quality of grub served)
The brand that has been making boys out of men for 60-odd years now, has oh-so-recently tapped into the beer market starting with their first-ever Biergarten venture right here in little’ol Pune. With Octoberfest-style benches, a pretty face greeting you at the entrance, a DJ who knows his progressive house and a host of fancy-sounding and fancy-looking F&B on offer, this right here, ladies and gents, is how Pune spells I-N-D-U-L-G-E-N-C-E. Now we’re no strangers to the brand, given that most of us have pretty much grown up building a distorted definition of the word ‘hot’, thanks to Mr. Hefner and MTV Cribs, the Playboy-branded Beer Garden is devoid of bunnies but deals in a different variety of hot – the edible kind.
Cut to 10th May, 7:30 PM –
There’s beverages being served on the table –
Orgy – an Orange/Guava/Lychee based almost-pulpy mocktail. Loved it !
Wake me up – watermelon and mint with hints of orange and apple. Just hints. #TakeAHint
Brain Freeze – the sexiest of the lot – tequila, blue curacao, lime juice and oodles of sex appeal. The effect with the Dry Ice in the Playboy mini-barrel was crazy-awesome !
Asian Mule – Vodka infused with kafir lime leaves, lemon grass, thai basil – this was an amazingly refreshing cocktail that was super herby !
Burnt Pineapple Whisky Sour – Bourbon blended with nicely grilled burnt pineapple – perfect for Whisky-lovers. And definitely the more punchy of the lot. I, however, gave it a pass after the ceremonial three sips ‘coz I’m a beer guy.
Next came the amuse-bouches and the amuse-gueules –
Watermelon Feta Cups – This increasingly popular preparation took a bit of a twist; the watermelon bits were carved into cups and feta was crumbled into them. Made for a very neat way to eat them, for sure and the proportion of the watermelon and cheese was perfect, too.
Roasted Balsamic Beetroot Salad – Feta again; this time with beetroot, walnuts and rockets; neatly packed together. The flavors and fragrances blended together only too well. Loved this combination, too !
Baby Patatasbravas with Garlic Aoili – This was a Tapas-style serving and came with a nice and creamy garlic Aioli. ¡Qué delicioso!
Nachos – crispy nachos served with oodles of sour, creamy cheese.
Bean and Chevre Crostini – little bite sized crostinis that weren’t, in my opinion, as creamy or tangy as they were supposed to be. But still a decent appetizer to be had, nonetheless.
Hooters Style Chicken Wings – I’ve never been to a Hooters so I can’t say to the authenticity of this preparation, but the wings were awesome either way. Tender little wings glazed in a sticky, piquant sauce that left me licking my greased fingers, clean.
Paneer Hariyali TIkka – fresh, soft paneer cubes that oozed flavor; the clay-roasted yoghurt-mint-coriander-chilli marination was almost rustic !
Lamb Gillaffi Seekh Kebab – Succulent pieces of mutton marinated in a mild spice-mix. The ‘khade masale’ were very evident in this preparation.
Tres Mushroom Slider – Ever had Wild Mushroom or Shiitake or Porcini mushrooms before? You can have ’em all in this slider, at the same time ! Crunchy 3-mushroom mini-patties in bite sized buns; an absolute delight !
Thai slider with Prawn Patty – Another bite-sized wonder; juicy prawn patties in mild Thai spices.
And then came the entreés –
First came the Cagliari Pizza – Vine ripened tomatoes, pesto, spinach, feta (the Chef’s favorite!), shallots and evident garlic on a perfect thin crust – one of the best Pizzas in town, hands down !
Penne with Smoked Cherry Tomato Sauce – The thing about cherry tomatoes is their mildly different sweet-tangy flavor. And when you make a pink sauce out of that and top it off with a healthy dose of Parmesan, well…you’ve got a great-tasting sauce ! The only problem here, was that sauce was a little too runny so it had all settled at the bottom and the pasta, per se, was rendered almost tasteless. Shame, really. But feedback was taken in stride and I hope to be pleasantly surprised the next time I call for pasta, here.
Champagne Risotto with Asparagus – Have I stressed enough about indulgence already? Either way, let me re-iterate. They cook their Parmesan-rich risotto with Champagne. ‘Nuff said.
Cottage Cheese Moussaka with Harissa – The Paneer was just as awesomely soft as Paneer can be and the Harissa was nice and punchy. It was smart to pair it with the Paneer, really.
Chicken Cafreal with Fondant Potatoes and Chilli Jus – A beautiful marriage between Goan and French cuisines – spicy cafreal (note the chili jus) served with pretty little Fondant Potatoes and Tapioca chips; a delightfully complex fusion of a preparation, if you ask me !
Veg Thai Curry with aromatic rice – a little too spicy and a tad too over-the-top aromatic preparation, this. I’d give this ‘overenthusiastically Thai’ dish a pass !
And before we recovered from this food coma, desserts were served :O
But I’m not complaining; the desserts were just WOW ! Words aren’t enough to describe just how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious the last course was !!!
Banoffee Pie – Everyone on every (food blogger) table was going bananas over this one ! Golden brulee bananas, sticky-crunchy toffee served alongside a PERFECT mousse in a pie base garnished with potent little coffee beans. Things like these are worth stretching your appetite and budget for !!!
Mixed Berry Eton Mess – Meringues, Fruit Puree and cream; hard to go wrong with something so simple ! It was obviously shadowed by the other desserts we had but by itself, its a fairly good standalone dessert.
Mango Cheesecake – My raison d’être – Mangoes, somehow made more awesome than I thought was ever possible. A Philadelphia-style BAKED cheesecake (yep, these are rare) garnished with oooooodles of Alphonso mango pieces. Definitely the BEST mango cheesecake I’ve ever had; and I’ve had quite a few.
All in all, a great place to soak in the luxe and the chilled vibe and catch some of Pune’s best desserts (yeah, that was unexpected!)
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5 (the indoor seating is much more forgiving during summers)
Value for money – N/A (invited)
For all its stunning panoramas and rich culture, the land of the rising sun is known also for its awe inspiring food. The Japanese are sticklers for presentation and detail and it shows, especially when you visit an authentic japanese restaurant that draws Japanese regulars from across Pune by the half-dozens. Why ‘half-dozens’, you ask? ‘Coz Miyuki only seats 7. That’s why. And yes, Miyuki is about as authentically Japanese as it gets.
Chef Amarjeet, who has been cooking up Japanese food-storms for some eight-odd years now, hosts the exclusive kitchen that serves all of 7 guests per sitting, in a cozy corner of the DoubleTree by Hilton (Chinchwad). On offer is everything ranging from Sushis to Sashimis to Tempuras to SAKE !!! #AwwYeah
I’ll get to the what’s what but for now, let me re-emphasize that Miyuki is all about an unadulterated Japanese experience, that’s to be shared with only a handful other adventurous gastronauts at a time, and is not for the faint-hearted (I’m talking raw fish, here).
So the restaurant is a snug little place that’s comprised of but one L-shaped serving table surrounding the Teppan, or the iron girdle. This serving style is called Teppanyaki, where the food is cooked on the gas-powered flat iron girdle and is often served to guests, piping hot, right off the cooktop. Not all the food was cooked in front of us but a lot of it was, and the dexterity with which Chef Amar did his thing was a sight to behold.
So our evening began with a chilled sake – it was dry, a tad acidic, and there was a faint aroma that almost lingered for a second or two…kinda like wine. Maybe because it is wine; rice wine, that is.
We also had an Italian Pinot Noir – Rosé, – a delicately fragrant, mildly floral and very smooth wine. What was even more appetizing was the color of the wine – a gorgeous pink !
One of us even had a good ‘ol Mojito – an absolute classic ! The barman sure knew his Mojitos !
Next came the cucumber wrap sushi – typically served during celebrations, this sushi can be prepared in a number of ways. Ours came packed with saku tuna and Philadelphia cheese; a rather interesting medley of tangy-creamy and a clean, smooth flavor of the tuna. What was I celebrating? The end of world hunger – starting with me.
What was served after that was probably my favorite, that evening, the Nasu Dengaku – a miso glazed eggplant preparation that’s served during summers. Why? Why do they serve ‘aamras’ in Summers? ….exactly ! The preparation had a lovely mushy texture and the sweet-tangy miso married with the baked cheese really well. This is something you’ve got to try !
Oh, and miso is basically fermented soybean paste. A rich, dense, flavorful paste that forms the base for a lot of Japanese preparations.
The Maguro Tataki followed, which was basically a Sashimi (very fresh, raw/near-raw meat) of tuna that was seared on an open fire and served with a refreshingly citric Ponzu (Japanese lemon+soy) sauce. Kinda reminded me of West Bengal’s ‘Gondhoraj Lebu’ because it was so beautifully aromatic !
We also called for Tempuras : Vegetable and Seafood –
Deeeeep fried crispy, crunchy veggies, prawns and fish served with green tea salt and tempura sauce. This is how you spend a Saturday night, if you ask me !! What was interesting to note was the deep-fried soba noodles held together with seaweed, garnished alongside the tempura platter…that cute little broom was edible !!
For our vegetarian friend, there were cheeseballs that had nothing to do with Japan, but they were served nonetheless and were just as awesome as the rest of the food on the table.
So all of the preparations so far had come from the kitchen. The rest of it was made in front of us, on the teppan, in this order –
Grilled Seabass – a teppanyaki-style cooked seabass in lemon butter garlic sauce that went very well with the meat and the pak choi as well.
Tofu Steak – Grilled Japanese Kinu Tofu blocks that were surprisingly soft despite the tempura flour coating. The sweet soy sauce glazing rendered it a nice zing, too !
Yaki Mesi with Miso soup –
Fried rice made on the teppan. Not as awesome as the other teppanyaki preparations, but more elaborate and elegant. The miso soup, though, was delish !
We ended the meal with a beautifully creamy Mango ice-cream and fresh, cut fruits. They did have other dessert options but given that we’d been dabbling in the exotic all evening, we thought something simple would be nice !
All in all a great experience – the exquisiteness of it all was what really won it, for me ! Definitely a great place for a change of palate for when you’re bored of the conventional.
Food – 45/5
Service – 5/5
Ambience – 4/5
Value for money – N/A (invited)
Few things come close to the awesomeness of winning a Burgerthon at the home of The Legendary Burger on a World Hamburger Day. Like more burgers, for example. Or Beer. Definitely beer. And some more burgers.
As the home of the Legendary and the Local Legendary Burgers, there couldn’t be a more apt place than HRC to kick off a world Burger tour. With eight burgers and eight cocktails on offer, the ‘preview’ was pretty…..exhaustive! I mean, literally – I was exhausted at the end of it. More like happy-exhausted. Add to that the super-chilled ambience of HRC, killer rock-n-roll playlists and you have a pretty potent formula for a great afternoon or evening.
As every meal should, ours too, started with alcohol. An array of exceptional to just-par cocktails was had, the gist of which is as follows –
El Matador – I was half expecting a sangria-like Spanish cocktail, given the Spanish connotation in the name of this beverage but it turned out to be more of a beer-based strawberry-ish tasting concoction, with hints of basil and a very, very welcome punch from the salt/chilli rimming. #NotDisappointed #NotDisappointedAtAll
Watermelon Hoedown – while it did it’s job as a classic summer cooler, the original (intended) vodka content was a little de trop for me, so I had to customize this baby with a lot less vodka and a little more beer. The result was a balanced beverage that went down well.
Hangman’s Blood – If you’re the type who can’t decide among spirits and end up wanting to have it all, this one’s for you. I don’t like my cocktails too strong, so I gave this one a pass but my friends who’re into whiskey called for repeats on this. #FoodForThought
All Jacked Up – Jim Beam, Whiskey, Captain Morgan’s spiced rum & honey with Pineapple juice. I thought the pineapple was kinda lost in all that alcohol but the freshness from the lime juice was there. Decent, if you ask me. Then again, I’m not really a cocktail guy.
Melonpalooza – a lovely blend of flavors from the Bacardi rum, coconut rum and Midori Melon liqueur; truly refreshing !
Sweet & Fiery – This one really left a mark; there was a bloody Jalapeno floating in the jar ! The mild sweetness of the beverage was complemented with a punchy aftertaste which got a little stronger with time. Or maybe it was the rum in my bloodstream making me feel so. I don’t really know.
Citrus Summer Shandy -This was easily the mildest and the fruitiest cocktail of the lot; for those out there who like their cocktails light and kinda syrupy. Bacardi orange, fresh orange, lemonade and passion fruit syrup – doesn’t get any more citrusy or fruity than that !
Crisp Sipper – Basically gin & tonic, cucumber syrup (its a refreshingly overpowering flavor) with a touch of rosemary and thyme – this one’s definitely for the gin-patrons in the house !
Having had these, we moved on to the pièce de résistance – the burgers
The first one we had was easily the unanimous favorite, the top seed, the burger par excellence – THE ITALIAN CHICKEN BURGER
The first thing you’d bite into would be the piquant sun-dried tomato aioli, next would be the crispy, golden, panko-crusted Cheddar Cheese layer (I’m drooling just writing about this), the third thing you’d dig through would be the herb-infused chicken patty and then finally the veggies and bun. Yes, it really was that brilliant ! #AbsolutelyRecommended
As part of the Burgerthon, I downed the Carribean Vegetarian Burger, a brown lentil based burger patty suffused with spices all through, topped with cheddar, quinoa relish and sunflower seeds. The sunflower seeds were obviously not evident, given the pace at which I gulped the whole thing down but the rest of it was pretty awesome.
The Lebanese Burger had a nice mix of garlic aioli, hummus and cheddar, but the oh-so-healthy beetroot base patty didn’t really cut it, for me. The texture was pasty and almost lacked binding.
The Mediterranean Veg Burger had a very fresh mix of flavors, from the mango aioli and the spinach slaw;the patty was nice and juicy, and the cheddar slice helped, too !
The Istanbul Kafta Chicken had a lovely medley of cumin, coriander powder and pepper flavors…almost like having a seekh kebab of sorts ! The hummus aioli and feta crumble added a welcome brine to the bite, too. This one was another winner !
The Indian Tandoori Chicken Burger was a very-desi burger and that’s exactly what won it, for me. Felt almost like biting into a leg piece, I tell you ! Also, the cheddar, and mint mayo were another great combination that complimented the base flavors.
I didn’t have the Mexican Quesadilla Burger or the Miami Cuban Burger (first image in this blog) but I was told they were decent as well.
I didn’t have the Limona Bomb either, but I had fun photographing it. While it lasted. For all of 2 minutes.
And with that, we called it a wrap but I’m told, the tour is going to be around for a while, so I’m sure I didn’t miss anything that I can’t come back for…(It’s on from the 1st of June to the 31st of July) Cheers !
Food – 4.5/5 (for the novelty of the burger-innovations !!)
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4.5/5 (it is, after all, an HRC)
Value for money – N/A (invited)
Of boundaries and off-sides, Aufside has it all. Literally. I mean, there’s actually a full-size practice net that separates the restaurant from the mall-side entrance…Its so in-your-face that for a second I thought I was at the wrong place or something, when I got there. Thank God for the signs that scream “Aufside, this side ->”; if not for these I probably would’ve doubled back and taken some detour.
Anywho, so once inside, you’re greeted by sports memorabilia, a huge projector and two screens inside this cozy little box of a place that make for an unabridged sports-bar ambience. Add to that craft beer on tap, inexpensive all-you-can-drink options, pop-quizzes, karaoke and decent grub and you get an archetypal Friday-night haunt. And that’s precisely what Aufside intends to be all about.
Now, atypical as it may sound, our dinner started with food and the drinks followed; but we got enough of both for the sequence to not matter. Here’s an account of the same –
Of the starters, the Crispy Chicken Tenders and the Herbed Chicken are the ones that left a mark; the Nachos, Grilled Prawns, Jalapeno Cheeseballs, and the Olive Bruschetta were alright…and the Honey Chilli Potato Bites, Cheese and Jalapeno Poutine and Sauteéd Mushrooms were a total miss, for me.
The Crispy Chicken Tenders were perfectly crumb fried, were hot and soft enough, inside and went very well with the cajun spice dip.
The grilled prawns were fresh, crunchy enough (no, not crispy, but crunchy the way grilled prawns ought to be) and were a tad briny, probably from the butter in the sauce they were tossed in.
The Herbed Chicken was nice and herby, and the meat was succulent.
The problem with the Nachos, if there was one, was that the flavors were not coming out as much as I’d want them too. Not that they weren’t there, they probably needed a little more punch.
There were no Jalapenos whatsoever in the Jalapeno Cheeseballs but they were still great to have with and the Poutine was not served separately with the fries but was poured over them, rendering the whole thing soggy and cheesy. Tsk tsk.
The Olive Bruschetta was missing the melted cheese topping, but was still decent as it was (not everyone on the table agreed with me) and the Mushrooms were cold by the time I had them, so the fact that I didn’t savor them much is entirely my fault.
The one thing that was really off (unanimously, across the table) was the portion of honey chilli potato bites, the heat from the chilli overpowered pretty much every other flavor the chef may have intended to infuse in the potatoes and left a pretty nasty burning sensation on the palate and down the throat.
Of the mains, the stuffed crepes were a lovely cheesy; so cheesy in fact that the ratatouille was lost in there. Not that I’m complaining ! I love my cheese and they’d used more than one of them here, so…
The Grilled Cottage Cheese was another winner, a perfectly done bed of cottage cheese that had an evidently nutty aftertaste from the peanut sauce and went very well with the sides.
The Chicken Roulade was also a well done piece of work – succulent chicken breast stuffed with tomatoes, olives and … more cheese ! #ImLovinIt
All this was washed down with a beer cocktail (the defender) that was a delicate balance between watermelon and beer (no, it wasn’t sweet, which is basically what I liked about it) but it went a little too flat after the first few sips. I always had to pair it with some food so it wasn’t much of a standalone beverage.
And our hosts were nice enough to keep, and offer Coronas.(Notice the ‘s’ at the end of the sentence, I’m talking about a plural noun here).
Desserts served were both chocolate mousses and both of them uniquely wonderful in their own right. Just the right texture and not too sweet. Me likey.
All in all, Aufside is a great place to catch a match, catch up or just catch (remember, there’s a practice net right outside) and indulge in decent food and drink options while you’re at it.
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 4/5
Value for money – 4/5
Here’s a beef starter that was as pretty as it looks, or so I was told.
Oh, and not to forget the pork chops. The BBQ sauce was delish !
So a guy walks into a bar..
and goes ‘Bhaiyya, ek cutting laga dena!’
. . .
What? . . .Were you expecting some kind of punchline? Too bad, coz’ I was being serious.
So bhaiyya proceeds to promptly whip out a neat 110 ml cutting glass and pours in a beautiful, dark, wheat beer that works up a rich, creamy head as it settles in. Guy chugs it down in 3 big gulps and goes, ‘kitna hua’? And bhaiyya be like – bas 79, dada !
That’s right ! Aside from the 50-something varieties of beer that these guys have on offer, which is in-freaking-sane by itself; the clever bwuoyz at the Beer Cafe have recently come out with another winner – their Cutting Menu.
There’s the desi faves on a shoestring budget – the Cutting @39 with Kingfisher and Fosters Draught options.
For the more adventurous, there’s the Cutting @79 with Bira White, Bira Blond or Signatures from the Mumbai-based Gateway Brewing Company on tap.
For the even more refined beer connoisseurs there’s Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Erdinger (Weissbier and Dunkel), Shepherd (Double Stout and Spitfire) and Fuller’s London Pride; also on tap @129 (Hell Yeah!).
…Aaand for those like me who like to have a little bit of everything, there’s the Cutting Slider – a ‘six pack’ of 3 premium-desi and 3 premium-videsi options. #SoMuchAwesomeness
Anywho. So after I’ve made myself comfortable in the snug little corner seat of this capacious cave of a space, I go on to call for a slider (obviously), comprised of a Bira white, a Bira blond, a White zen, a Gateway AI, a Doppelganger and the Fuller’s London Pride.
The Bira White is a cloudy looking, citrusy tasting wheat ale that’s the less bitter of the two Biras.
The Bira Blond is the clearer, more effervescent, fresher and the hoppier of the two beers. But that’s just a personal opinion.
The White Zen is a rather balanced wheat beer, with very mild hints of spice. This is the kinda beer that will go well with most palates.
The AI is Gateway’s version of the India Pale Ale is a slightly hoppy, bitter-sweet beer and is almost woody.
The Doppelganger is a dark, malty, sweeter beer that’s a little more overpowering than the rest of Gateway’s beers.
The Fuller’s London Pride is certainly the pride of this six pack, too – a quintessentially English legend, this. Works up a rich head, has a near-nutty smell, is just mildly bitter and isn’t too heavy (say, medium bodied). This is the one I savored the best.
. . . But wait, there’s more !
Now, no self-loathing, frustrated IT dude’s visit to a bar is complete without a HUGE round of sides, right? I mean, we don’t get our bellies from beer; now, come on !
So I noticed there was another menu with a BBQ Platter option with grilled meats and I go on to call for one.
The platter is replete with a succulent near-minty Hariyali (Chicken) Kebab, a well spiced Piri Piri Chicken (yeah, the piri piri-ness was very much there), 2 juicy chicken drumsticks – the Chicken Tangris with notable tandoori spices,and fish tikka –basically well seasoned, perfectly grilled Basa. Not to forget the PERFECT mint chutney that complemented everything on the table.
Round one of beer was over at this point and I was already parched, so Round 2 was called for –
The Beer Mule – Now the first time I’d attempted a Beer cocktail (in vain) was at home; it was a failed experiment with some cheapass strong beer and canned fruit juice. So my strongly negative outlook towards beer cocktails that had formed all those years ago was shattered, no scratch that, I need a stronger adjective – OBLITERATED in all of 3 seconds when I downed one single sip of the Beer Mule. A bona fide summer cooler and an ultimately delicious one too, with fresh cucumber and ginger notes, a very mild punch of vodka and the smoothness of beer. Not as effervescent as beer but just as refreshing. Hugely recommended.
Stella Artois (pronounced ‘art-twa’) – a classic Belgian Lager, the Artois is beautiful golden in color and has a clean, malty taste. No surprise why the world loves this beer.
While we were guzzling, more food found its way to the table. But this time, it was a round of more stereotypical sides –
Beer-battered onion rings – perfectly panko-crumbed and deep fried onion rings. Beer’s best friend. All authentic. No BS.
Butter Garlic Prawns – Juicy and crunchy in texture, briny and buttery…very buttery butter garlic prawns. The prawns were well sourced, too – no residual funky smell that I’ve been noting lately in a lot of restaurants.
And Round two of beer was done so a round three had to follow. Obviously.
Oranjeboom – a straw-yellow colored beer with a head that dissipated quickly. Modest bitters…very light and goes down easy. No, it doesn’t really taste like oranges but is very mildly citrusy. If that counts.
Shepherd Neame Double Stout – an Irish-style dry stout (that’s actually English – it’s brewed by England’s oldest brewer) that works up a rich head which dissipates to a near-zero lacing; and the beer has very notable roasted malt and coffee-ish flavors. I think it’d make for a great session beer. Unfortunately, I ended mine with this but hey, there’s always a next time !
Round three of grub was the Beer Cafe signature meat platter – the Hungry Tide
Chicken Wings – the batter was a little chewy but the BBQ sauce was spot-on. A little work with the batter ought to set this preparation right !
Chicken stuffed potato skins/jackets – the jacket was a tad bland which means that the chicken could’ve been seasoned with some stronger flavors but it wasn’t. Rendered the preparation a little flat, if you ask me. Still, after all those beers I’d gone from “Hi, how are you?” to “How high are you?” so the lack of character this preparation showed was automatically forgiven.
Chicken Tenders and Fish Fingers – well seasoned and crumb fried, yet super juicy inside. A little too much meat if you ask me but still, the better of the lot. I liked the chicken tenders especially and they went really well with all the sauces served on the side – mustard mayo, home-made salsa and tartar sauce. Gotta hand it to them for the sauces, though – amazing stuff !
So by the time I was done, the awesome tracklist that had set the mood for me had ended, and despite the alcohol in my bloodstream I could tell that songs had begun repeating.
The kooky signs on the walls had begun to make a lot of sense, and I realized that my eccentric ass had been very warmly accommodated for the good part of 3 hours. My beery adventure was formally over. #OlaTime
All in all –
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4.5/5 (the servers know their beer and give good suggestions, too!)
Ambience – 4/5
Value for money – N/A (invited), but I’m definitely heading back for their cutting menu…the thrifty beer-loving ass that I am
It’s a balmy Monday evening and I’m excited. I make that hour-long trip to ‘that side o’town’ and as I walk up the stairs from the basement parking, I’m welcomed by the subtle, yet unmistakable scent of comfort food. I enter this doorless, chilled-out open space and a bar greets me right at the entrance. Sweet.
The place ooooozes peppy gimcrackery and zany genius; I note the cheese-grater and eggbeater lamps among other tacky odds and ends about the tables and walls.
I (try to) make myself comfortable on the somewhat uncomfortable barstool and proceed to pull out a fork and a knife out of the truck-shaped cutlery holder.
As I go through their carefully curated Ai (Amrikka-inspired) menu I notice it obviously has nothing to do with salubrity. Muffled (excited) squeals follow. Because nothing healthy ever makes us drool, right?
I realize I’m parched so I call for a Masala Lemonade, which is not quite what I’m expecting; maybe some fizz ought to liven this beverage up, I think to myself.
I sample some oreo shake that my friend is having and I instantly regret not having called for a whole flowerpot full of THAT. That crunchy, thick, oreo-ey shake garnished with a sprig of mint, making it look like a goddamn flowerpot; I mean, how clever is that ?!
Anywho, so there’s some stuff already on the table that’s waiting for my attention, so I go ahead and try –
Sour cream and salsa fries – I’m not sure what to expect from fries that are paired with salsa and sour cream, but I’m pleasantly surprised. And the presentation isn’t half bad either.
Pickle Chips – crumb fried picked gherkins that I cannot stop popping. But I realize I have an entire meal ahead of me so I force myself stop after there’s all of two left for my friend who I was supposed to share this with. Lol I totally suck at sharing. I catch his expression from the corner of my eye and its priceless. <insert evil laughter here>
Fish n Chips – Another deep fried delight, this. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of fish n chips, I’m unable to believe that I’m unreservedly relishing every bite of this crispy savory and the piquant dip it is going so well with. #SoRecommended
Next comes the kukkad shukkad –
BBQ Wings – Not the texture I’m used to, but the sauce is spot on. I have two from the plate of six wings in front of me and pass the rest to the bhukhad side of the table to finish it. And just like that, it disappears.
Peri Peri Chicken Tender(s) – Not as hot as the peri peri I’m used to, but still punchy enough and real succulent, too. But I’m distracted because I’m anxiously looking forward to the Double Rotis (burgers) and there’s still Pizza to finish.
The Calzone and the Pizzas follow. So I sample the Goodfellas and the La Sciciliane and both are great – flavorful, sapid toppings and generously garnished with cheese but the crust in’t evenly crisp. The calzone is pretty good, though – I can’t tell its pork till someone tells me. #Yikes! Anywho, I remind myself why I’m there – for the highlight of the evening…the Double Roti ! And finally, it arrives !
So MY burger, the Mexican Wave is a lovely medley of textures and flavors – soft ghar-ke-recipe-wala bread, housing crunchy tacos and fresh veggies on top of the juicy, mildly tangy patty…
and I think this has so got to be the best burger on the table…till I sample some of my friend’s creamy chicken and cheese…I find it to be the single most disgustingly delicious filling I’ve been waiting to dig my teeth into all evening. My heebie-jeebies are finally gone.
As I’m about to say thank you and dhanyavaad I hear someone announce that they’re willing to share the blueberry and chocolate waffles they’ve called for. So I loosen the belt a notch, grab a fresh fork and dig in like no tomorrow. The blueberry and chocolate is divine and the waffle is warm, crisped on the outside and 100% mush inside. Its so awesome I shudder….and then I wipe my drool off the table. #EatLikeAHomerSimpson
Long story short –
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4.5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5 (for how clever every little thing is, here !)
Value for money – N/A (invited); but I’ll still say the grub’s well worth your buck 🙂
And as usual, here’s some more stuff that I didn’t have –