All-you-can-eat can never get old. Or boring. Or obsolete. And when it comes with more options and at a competitive price, you know you’ve got the answer to ‘where do I throw my promotion party?’ or ‘where do I take my South African clients for dinner?’ The setup isn’t new at all, but comes with frills in the form of an extra live-counter (wish grill) of customizable exotic foods like zucchini, tofu and meats like octopus, squid, rabbit, emu, quail and duck.
The menu is fairly exhaustive with options ranging from grilled veggies, cheese-loaded potatoes, kebabs and tikkas, crispy corn, chilli garlic prawns, bbq fish, jerk chicken, chicken wings and the gool ole well-done chicken tangri.
Live counters had Paani Puri. I rest my case.
Main courses, which people rarely bother had the usual suspects like Biryanis, meats, veggies and paneer in rich gravies and noodles. Notable mentions included kurkuri bhindi, which was worth going for seconds. Honest.
Desserts ranged from pastries and cakes to more traditional preparations (which were the better ones of the lot) likethe ras malai, phirni, and so on.
The very best dessert on the menu was the paan ice cream.
AB’s is almost reminiscent of another popular chain of restaurants operating an all-you-can-eat model, till the point you pay the bill. That’s when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Full marks for value and just as effective in satisfying cravings, if not a little more. I’d recommend it for the odd parties and team dinners, if you work in the neighbourhood.
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!
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!
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 –
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.
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.
Fish in banana leaves – fragrant and succulent, these mildly steamed fish parcels were a thumbs-up for most of us. Stout material.
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.
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 – well loaded and crisp, but nothing special about them. Meh.
Loaded fries – Ditto like the Nachos. The fries were well done, though…if you should know.
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 – 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.
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.
The Veg Stroganoff was nice and cheesy, and can make for a one-pot-style meal by itself given how heavy it was.
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.
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!
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
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….
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)