A rooftop experience par excellence at Marine Drive, Hinjawadi Pune

This restaurant’s iconic namesake is probably one of the sexiest 2-mile stretches in the country, and is home to some of the most stunning rooftop views, too; the central character in these landscapes being that gorgeous South Mumbai bay.

rooftop 1.jpgPune’s version of the Marine Drive gets a 270° view of the massive Rajiv Gandhi Infotech park sprawling in the the backdrop, alight with activity. The setup, per se, is perfect for sunsets and post-sunset sessions, replete with dim lighting and neon aplenty.

rooftop 2.jpgDry-ice cocktails line the bar area, and a really great playlist makes up the rest of the ambience.

The food is a bit of a hit-and-miss story with the chicken preparations needing a bit of work, which the owner of the resto graciously accepted as feedback, and the rest of it being a good spread of options to pair with that great atmosphere.

Minestrone.jpgWe started with Minestrone Soup which isn’t on the menu (soups are ~₹150), which was great till the point we missed the crouton. The soup itself is full flavored and full bodied and would recommend it as long as it came with that crouton; but that’s just me being extra-picky.

prawn koliwada
The prawn preparations are simply amazing, with the Prawn Koliwada (₹325) being my favourite that evening, closely followed by the Peri Peri King Prawns (₹475). The Koliwada won this round because it was generously battered and deep fried to perfection while being succulent inside.
Fried > Grilled. End of.
The Peri Peri marinade was a great balance of tangy and just-about-spicy too, while being grilled just right. In summary, I’d still wholeheartedly recommend both!

nonveg platter.jpgThe Non-veg platter (₹575) needed some work around the chicken as mentioned before, especially with the kebabs being a tad too rubbery for my liking like it was done a second time. But I’m sure with a feedback system this good it’ll be sorted soon.

mushroom.jpgMultani Mushroom (₹250) was char-grilled just right, again, and the tang from the marinade went really well with the mint chutney served on the side. The Pesto Paneer Tikka (₹250) was a similar story on the charred-just-right and well-marinated fronts. The pesto could’ve used a little more basil to make it more pesto-ey, but again, that’s probably just me being extra-picky. It was good, I’ll grant them that!

Veg Pizza.jpg
The Signature Vegetarian Pizza (₹250) made for a decent light-bite with a good helping of fresh toppings and a generous helping of cheese for good measure. Still, for a Signature Pizza, there could’ve been a little more pizzazz #PunIntended

Beer Battered Fish.jpgThe beer-battered fish fingers (₹300) came across as more of a bhajji-style preparation. My only gripe with this preparation was that it was neither a bhajji nor a proper fish-finger. Shame, because the fish seemed fresh and tender, and the batter was damn fine for a bhajji. If you’re torn between the two, though – this is perfect!

I didn’t stick around for the entrées or desserts so I can’t really comment on what a full meal feels like, here. That said, this isn’t a ‘full meal’ kinda place anyway. It’s perfect for trippin’ on a few beers or cocktails along with some light bites before you call it a night!

All in all –
Food – 4/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5 with room for a little improvement but these are just teething troubles
Value for money – N/A (invited) but the prices seems reasonable given the overall experience

Marine Drive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Not so secret, this SuperStar – Orion Molecular Kitchen and Bar

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Orion is the kind of place you take your wife to when you’ve forgotten your anniversary, but you’re too broke for diamonds. Or if you’re on that one particularly special date. Or if you’re a greedy little shit like me and are simply looking for some serious gourmet debauchery.

Decor.jpgIf you’re about Baner road (or not), this is one place that deserves a visit, especially given how reasonably priced it is. It’s conveniently located, has good parking arrangements, and the tastefully done decor comes for free, too.

 

Cinematic_1.jpgMy evening started with a Cinematic, one of the better whisky-based cocktails I’ve had in a while; the Cinnamon giving it a significant aftertaste and balancing the whisky real well, too. at less than ₹300 a pour, I was all for it.

 

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Veloute_1.jpgNext came the Indian Spiced Pumpkin Veloute (₹200), a delicately flavoured, almost creamy-textured pumpkin soup that was worth calling seconds on. And we did.

 

3 mushroom soup_1.jpgTo think that would’ve been the best soup that evening, boy was I wrong! Orion’s ‘Soup de grâce’© – The three mushroom soup (₹220) was an earthy, flavor-packed delicious concoction, almost reminiscent of cappuccino. I now have a new favourite soup.

 

Paneer Makhmali roll with Beetroot foam_1.jpg
We were in for appetisers next, the first of which came the Paneer Makhmali roll with Beetroot foam (₹280). Mind the beetroot foam, the Michelin-star chef really loved his nitrogen food foamer! The vibrant colours defied the ever-so-subtle flavors that the preparation packed. A classic appetiser if you ask me.

 

Chicken Kandhari Kabab.jpgThe Kandhari Chicken (₹260) was soft and succulent and packed with flavor but somehow I felt that the size of the chicken could’ve been moderated to make it a little more palatable.

 

Golden Fried Prawn with Sweet Chili Air_1.jpgUp next was the choicest and juiciest of deep-fried golden prawns served with – you guessed it chilli FOAM. That foamer was on overdrive. And the results were fantastic – none of the fuss – no chilli flakes et al, and all of the drama. At little over ₹300 a pop, this was a definite winner for me.

 

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter_.jpgHaving survived off Giovanni Rana’s line of pastas for a year while in the UK, I’d developed something of a baseline that I was really hoping their Ravioli would match up to. And boy. did it. Pumpkin Ravioli (₹300) like you’ve never had before, and dripping in sage butter. The kind that’ll change your perspective on the humble pumpkin. ‘Nuff said.

 

Smoken Chicken Ravioli with Pepper Pesto_1.jpg
Same story with the Smoked Chicken Ravioli (₹350)- the delicate tang from the pepper pesto married with the creamy texture of the ravioli was a match made in culinary heaven.

 

Chicken Katsu Kare_1.jpgThe Katsu Kare (₹320) was a welcome blend of fresh asian flavors, the only problem being the amount of rice served to balance it out. And it did need some balancing out. Probably the only thing that didn’t work for me that evening, and just because the rest of it was all delicate-like and this one came on too strong.

 

Shahi Tukda_1.jpgThe dessert was a welcome change after the Katsu Kare – another Molecular Gastronomy take on the uber-popular Shahi Tukda (₹300). Best had immediately as the rabdi is poured so the texture of the bread is retained. Probably a tad expensive in light of everything else here if you’ll ask me, but still, quality stuff.

 

Moongdal halwa paratha.jpg
Oh, wait. Almost forgot the Moongdal Halwa Paratha (chef special @₹220). Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp. ‘scuuuse me! Totes worth making room for after ALL that grub if you should know.

All in all –
Food – 5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5
Value for money – N/A (invited, but amazingly reasonable given the quality of food)

Orion Molecular Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Out on a craic for a second innings @Irish Village, Mundhwa

The Leprechaun’s missing, but the rustic-like Jameson poster is still there to greet you. There’s about enough green to bear an Irish brand name but no Irish songs playing on the jukebox. Instead, there’s a live show by a local band and aye, it’s quare fine! I quite like my Friday evenings to begin that way!
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We were then led to our table-for-twenty and after some awkward exchanges with new faces and some warm hugs from familiar ones, we got down to business. No time was wasted in serving beer samples but I already knew what I was there for – the Stout. The wheat beer was pretty good too, but the cider and IPA weren’t as good as what I’m otherwise used to.

The Stout was well poured; the head stayed on for a while to retain a thin, but creamy lacing. It came on strong with its roasted notes and more-bitter-than-coffee-like flavors so if you’re not used to dark beers this one isn’t for you. I, on the other hand, loved it!
Wheat Beer
The wheat beer was a universally likeable well rounded sweet-citrusy, refreshing, easygoing beer. In fact it was so light, it’d even pass as a session beer. You’d have to have like four or five of those if you were looking to get plastered; not that I’m recommending it!

The IPA wasn’t as hoppy as I’d like it to be and felt a little watered down, too. And the Cider wasn’t as ‘dense’ as I’d like it to be and the sweetness seemed almost ‘forced‘ so I gave it a pass, as well.

The food was a hit-and-miss story, with the hits being –
Paneer
Chimichuri Cottage Cheese – well-marinated seared paneer that went well with green chutney. Could’ve used a little stronger marination, IMHO. Can be paired with the wheat beer.

potato
Aloo Ki nazakat – little parcels of potato and mild flavors and a palatable mixture of textures, too. Stout was what did it for me with this one.

Salt & pepper mushroom – Probably the best starter of the lot – strong on flavors (I didn’t mind the extra salt) and pan-fried just right. Frying mushrooms is tricky business. Definitely a wheat-beer partner.
Mushroom Fish
Fish in banana leaves – fragrant and succulent, these mildly steamed fish parcels were a thumbs-up for most of us. Stout material.

croquettes
Smoked Croquettes – super-mushy (and bland) on the inside but perfectly crisp and golden on the outside. Best had with the strong, piquant dip that came with it. Potatoes go down with anything.

prawn
Hot Chilli Prawns – perfectly grilled, well marinated juicy prawns that are best enjoyed by themselves. The portion size was the only issue – we wanted so many more of these!!

..And the misses being –

nachos
Nachos – well loaded and crisp, but nothing special about them. Meh.

fries
Loaded fries – Ditto like the Nachos. The fries were well done, though…if you should know.

maas
Tabak Maas – Mutton is either perfect, or it isn’t. This wasn’t. There just isn’t any middle ground. The meat felt rubbery and the flavours/textures were localised to only the coating.

chicken in blankets
Chicken in blankets – I’ve had these aplenty when I was in the UK and had something of an  expectation, which this just didn’t come anywhere close to. There were too many confusing textures and smells and wayyy too meaty if you’re not used to it. Plus, I’m used to the pastry version.

Then came the entrées –

The Oriental dumpling soup, which came after the entrées was refreshingly nice; it was earthy, flavorsome and the dumpling were nice and juicy. The ginger notes added that extra zing to the soup. If you’re not used to thin soups, though, I wouldn’t recommend it.

farmers pizza
Among the Pizzas, I thought the Farmer pizza was better than the Irish meat feast. The Pizzas weren’t traditional, but rather ‘Indianised’ versions, so very palatable and fairly loaded, too. Not to mention that they weren’t very heavy at all (which is a good thing IMO), unlike the more commercial heavy-base pizzas that are sold by chains.

veg stroghanoff
The Veg Stroganoff was nice and cheesy, and can make for a one-pot-style meal by itself given how heavy it was.

drunken potato
The Irish drunken potato used to be so much better before, it seems like just white sauce and boiled ‘tatos, now. Shame, I quite liked this the last time I had it, here.

Whatever comes to your mind when you think ‘Butter Garlic Prawns’, un-think it. This was well-done, cheesy prawns that were (maybe) sautéed in butter and gartlic before they were drenched in white sauce. ‘Butter‘ and ‘garlic‘ seemed misleading but the preparation was nice by itself, to be fair. Just don’t think butter and garlic, think prawns with bite and in cheese, instead.

Oh, and the burgers weren’t impressive. As were the Panna Cotta and Red Velvet Cheese Cake. That’s all I have to say about it.

In summary then, I don’t take you for someone who can down more than 1-2 appetizers, 1-2 entrées and a few pints. I’d suggest skipping the stuff that doesn’t work and calling for what does; it’s that simple. Ask the few thousand regulars who seemed to have crowded at the venue. They’ll tell you.
The Irish Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cologne-ization of Pune’s beer scene

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I don’t know about Reinheitsgebot and all that but if I can get a top-fermented German-esque lager this close to home, that tastes refreshingly citrusy, crisp, smells sweet-ish and looks the part, I’m happy in my ignorance. See, the ‘original‘ Kölsch enjoys a PGI/PDO status, so for Pune’s Kimaya Brewery to call their recently launched beer a Kolsh might be a bit of a stretch.

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Buuuut I honestly couldn’t care less ‘coz this stuff’s good. Like, 5-pints-in-a-row good.

What can you pair it with? I’d say anything ranging from mild to sharp flavors; that’s basically anything off the Malaka TapRoom menu. Exempli Gratia –

And that’s not even the best part! You get this view at no extra cost!!

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Spread the word, y’all. Pints and stories are meant to be shared! Cheers!

The Tap Room By Malaka Spice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eats & drinks at Wynkk Inc.

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?

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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 –

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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.

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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.

_MG_3169 (2).JPGKanda 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.

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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.

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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)

WYNKK The Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Raising the bar for partying hard @Bar Bar, Viman Nagar

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 –

Lynchburg
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.

Spiced Guava Mocktail
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 –

basket of fries
Loaded Potato Skins
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

Popcorn –

Pork Cuchifritos
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
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 Popcorn
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 Popcorn
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
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 Toasties
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 Toastie
Kung Pao Chicken – smoky, perfect textured chicken bits with evidently oriental flavors from the spring onions and whatnot. Very much recommended.

The MexicanThe 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.

Pahadi Paneer Paratha
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.
Happy Singh ka Dabba
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.

Amigo beer
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….

Bar Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato