‘Regional’ cuisines can be inspired by the ingredients locally available, those traded, traditions, climates and culture(s). Imagine a place that’s been exposed to India and China and was colonised by the British, Portugese and the Dutch. What you have is a proper medley of ingredients and cooking styles, and is probably what sets Malaysian food apart. You’d expect Chilli peppers, coconut, soy, lemongrass, tamarind to be kitchen staples along with rice, noodles and roni canai (bread). Oh, but there’s so much more!
Mamak and Nyonya are two such cuisines which were born out of a figurative ‘marriage’ of cultures and people. Celebrating them is Malaka Spice on a rather special occasion – their own 20th birthday!
Witness first hand to the effort that went into crafting their brand-spanking-new menu, I can wholeheartedly vouch for –
Chan Choy Tong – Malabari Mamak Spinach Soup that strikes a perfect balance between the spinach and the mutton; the texture is on point too. Best had while it’s warm.
Kanji Kedah – there’s something ‘homely’ about this soup…maybe it’s the fried onions, or maybe it’s the coconut milk or maybe it’s something else.
Sambal Steamed Okra – just the right level of spicy, and a near re-invention of the humble ‘Bhindi‘
Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit – probably the most rustic preparation in the menu; a perfect marriage of turmeric and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes delicious…just not that ‘special‘, if you’re asking.
Kurma Ayam – an interesting juxtaposition, this – simple ingredients combined together to produce such complex flavors and aromas!
Dry mutton curry – Don’t let the dry masalas and curry leaves fool you – it’s almost like it’s Tamilian cousin…mind the almost, it’s Mamak after all.
Borneo fish with Sabah veggies – I’d have these just for the Sabah veggies; for how exclusive a superfood it is and the chefs at Malaka have totally nailed the recipe.
I preferred pairing the entrées with plain rice just so I could enjoy the flavors for what they were; I didn’t much fancy Malaka’s rice preparations, to be honest.
The roti tissue was another miss for me in that its an excellent palate cleanser but it loses its near-perfect texture in mere minutes.
I’d probably have only the jaggery syrup and the ice cream bit of the Pudding Raja; the rest of it didn’t really cut it for me. But I was stuffed anyway by the time I got to this part, so maybe that was my brain telling me to stop eating. Who knows?!
Whatever the occasion or excuse, there’s now 21 more reasons to make that trip to KP! I wouldn’t wait around if I were you 😉
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.
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!!
Spread the word, y’all. Pints and stories are meant to be shared! Cheers!
Wiltshire. Home to the world-famous 5000 year old Stonehenge, 8-century old Salisbury Cathedral…and this little gem. At the very heart of this little county is the quaint little market town of Devizes, best known for the massive Victorian-era Wadworth Brewery. You’d think 2 centuries is a mighty long time to be brewing beer, no? As the local saying goes – Old cool is the new cool! Have a 6X and you’ll know what I’m on about.
Getting here by road is easy – get to the A361 and you won’t miss Devizes. By bus, hop on the Stagecoach 49 and voila! Point is, if you’re about and not doing much, it’s worth a pop-in and it’s easy, too. Even if you are doing anything, it’s still probably worth a visit anyway.
No matter where you are in the town centre, you’re likely to spot at least the tip of the brewery. As you walk closer, you’re able to fully appreciate how massive the brewery really is. The entrance is right next to the main structure and once in, you can purchase tickets to their brewery tour which is followed by a tasting session – the best part of the deal! 😉
Tours are timed, so one can take a few minutes to savor the museum-esque decor if you’re early.
There’s also an actual Penny Farthing on display which used to be driven around by Henry Alfred Wadworth himself as he did the rounds of local pubs selling his ware, to *ehm* ‘quality-check the beer’. I’m not entirely sure how he managed getting back up on that thing after he’d ‘sampled’ beer from twenty pubs!
Right…On to the entrée, then.
The £12 tour lasts about 2 hours give or take and starts on the upper floor where we’re introduced to the most fundamental ingredients of beer – Malts and Hops. The most commonly used Malts are Barley and they constitute the sugar, colour, and flavour components of the beer, whereas the hops provide the aroma and bitterness. The hops also serve as a natural preservative. (Fun fact – the name ‘India Pale Ale’, or IPA came about when strongly hopped beer was shipped overseas to the East India Company with the high hop-content serving as a natural preservative and just like that, a style was born! The more you know).
Malts are germinated and roasted before they’re milled, to expose the sugars inside the malt. The nature of the roasting determines whether a malt is pale (hardly roasted), crystal(pretty roasted), black (seriously roasted) and so on. The more it’s roasted, the more coffee-ish the flavor of the ale, the darker it is, and paler malts provide for more sweeter, light-coloured beer. Most ales use a combination of malts to achieve that unique characteristic which makes it different from other ales. The hops used here are ‘Cascade’, ‘Fuggles’, ‘Golding’, to name a few. The next process is mashing, where hot water, the grist (powdered malts with a short shelf life) and hops are mixed to produce a sugary solution called ‘wort’. Wadworth’s Victorian heritage means they still have a working Copper Mash Tun from 1885 running side by side a modern Stainless Steel Mash Tun which I thought was pretty darn amazing!
The wort is ‘brewed’ in the likes of an Open Copper (used seasonally, now) which used to be heated by fire kept alive by the one person with the worst job in the world. It was only in 1938 that a steam coil was added to heat the wort instead of the fire below. The hood you see was added in the 1960s, which did the public service of funnelling the steam from the wort out of the building to the nearby schools and factories, early in the morning. I know I’d have loved to wake up to the smell of that!
Next in the process is the hopback, which separates the wort from the hops; and the leftovers are given away to local farmers as food for their cattle. Lucky cattle.
Next in line is the pièce de résistance – the fermentation vessel. Wort is basically food for the brewer’s yeast which converts the sugar to alcohol and Carbon Dioxide; the most fundamental brewing process. The end result is the final product – what you enjoy every Friday and Shaturday and Shundayy…*hic*
Commercially, Wadworth now produce most of their beer in a more modern facility (under the same roof) using more efficient and eco-friendly machinery manufactured by Steinecker.
That doesn’t mean that the quality is any different from what they used to make back in the day. Or so we’re told. I wasn’t around back in the day so I’m just happy for the present-day 6X, Swordfish, Bishop’s Tipple and the rest of their ales.
The tour ended for us with a round of their most loved ales –
Wadworth IPA – easy drinking, hoppy, light pale ale
Wadworth 6X – the traditionally brewed, well balanced amber ale
Dirty Rucker (to celebrate the seasonal Rugby games) – Deep golden hoppy-bitter ale
Wadworth Swordfish – absolutely loved the light sweet taste from the infused rum
Wadworth Horizon – a crisp, citrus-ey light ale that went down easy
Wadworth Corvus – deep black with very evident coffee and roasted malt notes. I’m used to thicker, creamier heads than what the Corvus had to offer, though. Still, I enjoyed that it was different.
The icing on the cake were Monty, Max and ‘the silent one’ (I forgot her name!), the shire horses that, to this day, transport kegs to local pubs that bear their famously famous hand-made signs.
In the vicinity of the brewery, there’s also Reeve, the famous sourdough-bread baker nearby should you be interested and plenty of restaurants nearby for a quick bite, too.
We also visited the famous Cain Hill Locks that sport the two-mile long canal system up the Avon and it’s quite the sight!
It’s a great little stretch for a casual stroll after lunch. There’s also a pretty little afternoon-tea cafe for those who suffer from those classic British ‘urges’! 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
Garlic Mushrooms – Button mushrooms. Garlic, herbs and butter. Deep fry. Simple. So tasty. Oh, so tasty!
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.
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.
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.
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
Picture this – it’s 6:30 AM and you’ve been snoozing that damn alarm for the past thirty minutes, the music deviously blending into your dream and your brain refusing to believe that it’s well past time you had woken up. You wake up to the sight of the clock, now showing 7:00 AM, and you suddenly have all the motivation you need to finish most of your morning chores faster than Usain Bolt can do 40 yards. You jump out of your ‘jamas and put the kettle on with the toothbrush in your mouth, already. Twenty minutes pass and you’re done taking a shite and a shower (in that order, hopefully) and you’re halfway into your undies. Within the next ten minutes you’re back at the dining table to pick up the bus pass/car keys which you’d forgotten, but remembered when you got to the main door. You pick up two digestive biscuits and stuff them in your mouth. ‘Breakfast’.
Timecheck – 7:30 AM. Booyah! I’m gonna make it! Awwyiss… you tell yourself, but did you notice that you’ve forgotten to properly break your 8 hour fast just to beat the 8 AM rush….AGAIN?
It’s plain sad that we (me inclusive; I try not to be a hypocrite) don’t give the most important meal of the day its due importance. I’ve promised myself that I’ll manage at least one fruit and a huge bowl of wheat flakes with milk, in the least; if I can’t manage anything serious. So far so good.
However, there’s much better options available to Punekars thanks to ‘on-the-way-located’ restos like Fahrenheit. I happened to sample one such breakfast, one fine weekday, and it fit perfectly into my schedule too. Yep, that’s right. They open at 8 AM.
What I had was a breakfast fit for a king, and lasted me till 2 PM solid.
I started with a round of a watermelon based refreshment, designed to counter the effects of the potations you’ve had the night before. It’s a crying shame that they dropped it ‘cos I don’t see it on the menu anymore. Loved how it was all grainy, fresh, just the right amount of sweet and about enough to wash down whatever else was on the table.
Then, I moved on to the waffles with maple syrup, apples, bananas, pomegranate and a generous dollop of fresh cream. The waffles were a tad too thick for my liking but I’m sure they can make them to your liking if you just ask nicely. The rest was right on point.
Then came the real deal – a fluffy Mexican Omlette replete with veggies (could’ve used some more veggies in the Omlette, though) in a subway-style sandwich bread served with with delicious, crisp potato Rosti, juicy chicken sausages and boiled veggies on the side. There was broccoli, green and yellow zucchini and cherry tomatoes – the good stuff. And just to make sure it’s not too healthy or anything, there was a nice helping of table butter on the side 🙂 Exactly how I like it. I think you can call for margarine as well, but I know I wouldn’t.
So there you have it. A sweet breakfast option that isn’t expensive or anything and can kick-start your day the right way, just around the corner (Baner is pretty much on everyone’s route to work).
All in all –
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 3.5/5 (hope they’ve solved the housefly issue)
Value for money – N/A (invited; but I’d still rate it at a 4.5/5 had I paid)
If you liked this post (or even if you didn’t), do leave me a comment below…I’d love to know what you think of the most important meal of the day!
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)