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

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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!

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Hello, 6Xey!

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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.

Bottles

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.

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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! 😉

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Tours are timed, so one can take a few minutes to savor the museum-esque decor if you’re early.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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*

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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’! 😉

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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.

leprechaun

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.

samplers

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

How to Party 101 – @Playboy Beer Garden, Balewadi

playboy entrance
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.
private seating
indoor seating

Cut to 10th May, 7:30 PM –
There’s beverages being served on the table –

Orgy
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
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
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
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
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 potato bites
Baby Patatasbravas with Garlic Aoili – This was a Tapas-style serving and came with a nice and creamy garlic Aioli. ¡Qué delicioso!

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Nachos  – crispy nachos served with oodles of sour, creamy cheese.

bean and chevre crostini
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
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
Paneer Hariyali TIkka – fresh, soft paneer cubes that oozed flavor; the clay-roasted yoghurt-mint-coriander-chilli marination was almost rustic !

Lamb Gillafi Kebab
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
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 Prawn Patty
Thai slider with Prawn Patty – Another bite-sized wonder; juicy prawn patties in mild Thai spices.

And then came the entreés –

Cagliari Pizza
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Cheese Cake
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)

Here’s some more stuff we had –

Egg Decker
Egg Decker – Hash Browns, Spinach Mornay, Scrambled Egg, Cheddar Fondue
Chicken Satay
Satay Chicken

Playboy Beer Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato