A wee slice of Irish awesomeness at the Irish Village, Pune

For a place that welcomes you with a Leprechaun and a menu touting loads of potatoes and a craft-brewed dark ale (among others), the Irish Village is about as much Ireland you’ll get without having to board a flight. Not to mention all the green you see inside and outside; it certainly helps bring out the Irish spirit as well.

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Speaking of spirits, that’s basically what this place is famous for and after my experience, I know why, too. Now if you don’t know your beer that’s not a problem here because samplers were invented for a reason. I know my beer all too well but I still asked for a sampler (because that’s how you get an extra 50 ml of beer absolutely free!) and called for a pint of everything anyway. Everything but their Lager.

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To add to the super-chilled vibe this place oozes, there are dozens of speakers spread out across the huge vastness of this property that play great commercial house at just the right volume so you can enjoy your conversations just like you’re enjoying that pint.

And back to pints, we come.

The Wheat O’Mullins is a ‘Hefeweizen’, or wheat beer (obviously)  and is full of those malted wheat flavors you’d expect.  I also found it to be comfortably devoid of the hoppy flavors that I didn’t need in my Weissbier, too. I didn’t watch it pour so it was all lacing by the time the beer reached my table, which wasn’t much for a wheat beer. I’d say it was light-bodied and not heavy on carbonation either. A fairly straightforward thirst-quencher if you ask me.

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Same as the wheat beer, this pint of the Ale O’Connor had also reached me some time after it was poured so the head had dissipated to a thin lacing. The color was a beautiful golden and there wasn’t much in the way of hops on the nose. Carbonation and mouthfeel were light and made for an easy-drinking beer; the amount of alcohol also ‘seemed’ less, so this may even pass as a decent session beer.

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Then came the star of the show – the Irish Stout. A beautiful dark brown ale, this; the Stout O’Sullivan sat in that tall glass with a half inch lacing. Complex on the nose with the roasted malt and coffee notes, the ale tasted of toasted wheat with a coffee-ish aftertaste and had just the right amount of carbonation for that ‘neat’ mouthfeel. Sláinte mhaith!

Disclaimer – but Guinness is Guinness. Amen.

Now I like to feel that I’m not an alcoholic so I tend to order food as well…Sometimes.
Here, I’d called for –

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Garlic Mushrooms – Button mushrooms. Garlic, herbs and butter. Deep fry. Simple. So tasty. Oh, so tasty!

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Chicken Goujons – You can’t go wrong with Dijon mustard and dry herb marination on mini-fillets . You just can’t. And when you crumb-coat and deep-fry those little bite-sized bits you’ve got yourself a winner. God bless the French for this.

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We went a little off-course and called for Peri Peri wings too. Because you know, why not? Succulent meat falling off the bones that had soaked the tangy-spicy marinade so well. ‘Twas one of those times I wished I had a spare stomach.

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And because the evening was supposed to be about Irish specialties, we went ahead and called for the Irish Drunken Potato. Now mushy baked potatoes aren’t for everyone so you’d want to get your expectations right before ordering a portion of an entire potato full of veggies floating in a creamy gravy. I, on the other hand, loved it.

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Dessert had to be a sticky toffee-based something so we called for the sticky o’brown which was a date cake drizzled with sticky caramel and served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream. Such elegance exists in simplicity and this plate was testament to just that.

All in all, you’re guaranteed a whale of a time here if you even remotely enjoy beer, good music and great food so in all honestly there’s hardly any reason why your arse is still so firmly planted in that Goddamn chair and you’re not booking an Uber to Mundhwa or Baner right now. Like, why? And yes, they’ve opened in Baner as well, now. Cheers!

In summary –
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4.5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Value for money – N/A (invited) but it’s still pretty good value for the whole package

The Irish Village 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

Out Auf This World – Aufside @ Hotfut, Swargate

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.

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Sports Memorabilia

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.
aufside.jpgNow, 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.

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An amazingly refreshing Mojito with the prawns in the foreground and the chicken tenders in the background

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.
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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.
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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.fiery fries.jpg
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.

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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…

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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.

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The Chicken Roulade was also a well done piece of work – succulent chicken breast stuffed with tomatoes, olives and … more cheese ! #ImLovinIt

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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).

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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.

In summary,
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.
rice mains 3.jpgOh, and not to forget the pork chops. The BBQ sauce was delish !
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Aufside @ Hotfut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hops & Happiness at the Beer Cafe, Viman Nagar

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.
cutting beer.jpg 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 !
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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
Beer Cafe indoors
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.

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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 !
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 !
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Round three of grub was the Beer Cafe signature meat platter – the Hungry Tide
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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.
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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
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The Beer Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato