One night my husband and I, regulars at the natural’s ice cream parlour in nigdi bhel chowk, decided we wanted to try something new and that’s when we were drawn to Froozo, which is located almost opposite the said ice cream parlour. We walked to find a delightful little cafe all decked up for new years. After clicking our share of pics with the snow man outside, we were all for some midnight snacks and ice creams.
Birthdays are festive occasions and a place from where you can enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the city while enjoying your meal with loved ones just makes the occasion more special. Keeping this in mind, I zeroed in on Up and Above, located in the green locales of NDA road, it seemed like the perfect setting for a group of 8 adults.
The climb up can seem a bit tedious to those craving food. However, the place does not disappoint in terms of its name. You truly feel like you are up and above once you reach the open terrace level where the tables face the twinkling city lights.
The restaurant specializes in North Indian, Continental, Sea Food and Chinese. We started with soup, which thankfully we had the foresight to ask for a one by two share considering the quantities. The sweet corn soup tasted way too sweet and had a pasty taste that was anything but appetizing. The chilly Manchow soup is for you if you like it spicy. Although this too could have lesser corn flour.
For starters, we tried the Paneer Chutneywala, which was basically a concoction of cottage cheese cubes marinated in spices and put through the tandoor. Borders on the spicy side, so be careful if you are not a fan. The Tandoori Mushrooms were a sore disappointment. They were not properly marinated and were tasteless except for a sweet sauce which did nothing to enhance the flavor. Also, this starter had way too much raw onion chopped into it, which again did not complement the mushrooms or the sauce.
Main course was the standard run of the meal Paneer tikka masala which was so unremarkable; I actually have no recollection of the precise flavors. It just looked red and tasted of tomato puree and onions.
The Three treasure veg fared better in the taste department. The vegetables had their own distinct flavors even in the same gravy. We coupled this with butter roti and Kulcha, both of which were prepared well.
The steamed rice was not well cooked and was hard as a result while the dal fry was passable.
The service is decent, but slow, so make sure you place your main course order along with the starters or soup.
The ambiance is the only saving grace, although they have a long way to go in the furnishing and decor department even though the restaurant is essentially open air. They can definitely do away with the dhaba type feel it evokes.
Not a very good experience on an overall basis and I would certainly not recommend it if exotic food rich in tastes is what you are looking for in the vegetarian food section. That is strictly mediocre. You can visit it just for the ambiance and the view.
Verdict: You can easily give it a miss.
Address: Plot 45/44, Kothrud, Chandani Chowk, Pune
Photo courtesy: Trip Advisor
Women are special, they must feel special and it would seem like Out of the Blue is aiming to do exactly that with the W-day Lunch also known as the Women’s Day Lunch. The ladies enjoy a special menu card and a hearty buffet spread complete with fresh salads for the calorie conscious and sinful desserts for the sweet tooth and in between, you can order your main course right from your table!
The W-day commences at 1 every Wednesday and continues till 4 p.m. I walked in last Wednesday to be greeted by the friendly staff at OofTB with a scrumptious meal. I started my meal with an iced peach tea. I’ve never tasted a better iced tea! It was just the right mix of ice tea mix, ice and sweetener. It worked wonders with refreshing a heat harassed me.
Next I tried some Minestrone soup from the buffet table. Vast improvement in the quality. Tangy and ever so slightly spicy, this is a perfect start to the meal. There’s a vast selection of breads and dips like hummus and walnut mint dip to push you along. For the salad lovers, hit the Salad bar. There is the Beetroot Cauliflower and chickpeas salad which looked so gorgeous the first thing I did was clicking a picture for instagram. I love pasta and I took a hearty share of Italian Herb Pasta and the Italian bellpepper salad. However, it left me sadly disappointed with a rather bland taste and the flavor of herbs missing. Try the Balsamic tossed mushroom and pepper salad. This had the hint of spice which went very well with the mushrooms. For the Desi souls, there’s the Desi Paneer salad, which I gave a miss. There are chicken and mixed vegetable salads in pretty little glasses for those who like it unconventional. The live salad counter allows you to take your own pick and have the chef spin out a healthy leafy affair within minutes.
A lovely pink menu card arrived especially designed for the ladies. From this you can take a pick between Pastas, Sizzlers and Barbecue dishes for the main course. They have red sauce pasta and white sauce pasta on offer. I tried the Penne Tomato Basil, which is a delight for the calorie conscious. It comes with hints of Parmesan cheese and tips towards the light yet filling. The tang of tomato and the subtle hints of basil make this a good choice for those who like their pasta tangy. I also tried the house special Chicken in lemon sauce. The chicken was chewy and well seasoned. However, I did not enjoy the lemon sauce considering it tasted more of mustard and less of lemon. But as the taste of mustard fades away, there’s a fresh taste to the barbecued chicken which I really enjoyed. And yes, do try the virgin bloody Mary It’s a treat for the senses in its small garnished glass with a mix of tomato juice and a hint of spice.
Finally my favorite part of any meal arrived in the form of a huge choice of desserts. It was ironic that the little chocolaty pastel devils were placed right next to the live salad counter. Needless to say I picked almost every dessert there was on display. The mandarin mousse tasted like the filling of an orange biscuit. I did not enjoy it. The kiwi mousse with its sweet sour flavor was worth a dip. The chocolate tart and chocolate pastry however took the cake for me. They are rich and crusty and absolutely marvelous after a sumptuous meal.
The W-day at Out of the Blue is worth your mullah at Rs.395 (exclusive of taxes). And the fact that you can take your man along for a lunch date at the same cost makes it a steal. “We treat them equal”, laughed Nipun Paul, the Marketing Head, when I asked him this question innocently.
That is not all. They also have a very interesting “destiny street” where you can have your Tarot cards read, or your handwriting analysed or consult a “jyotish” who comes sans a parrot! I tried it and gained some insight into my future as well into the kind of person I am. Last but not the least, you can participate in their W-day lucky draw and walk away with amazing gift vouchers to pamper yourself. So whether its a kitty party, a catch up session with your best friend or a date, Out of the Blue has something special for everyone on W-day.
Verdict: Worth your money. Refreshing menu and concept.
Address: Out of the Blue, First floor, Entry level Lobby, E-sq, Pune.
As you walk up the spiral staircase and enter Shakahari, you are taken in by the simplistic elegance and opulence of the décor with the high wood clad ceiling and comfortable red sofa seating.
Shakahari is the place for vegetarian lovers. They serve cuisine not just from India but you can take your pick from Thai, Chinese,Vietnamese, etcetera as well and sans the meat!
They have a wide range of savories to choose from, but considering they have a special Gujarati Festival ongoing at present, I decided to dig into the Theplas and Patras with aplomb and I was not disappointed.
I started my meal with a profusion of starters.
The “Aloo wadi or patra” which is a special edible leaf rolled with a spicy chickpea mixture and steamed is a treat for the taste buds combined with the “saut ki Chutney”.
The “methi Muthiya”, a mixture of chickpea flour and methi with its grainy texture just melts into your mouth.
The “Khaman Dhokla” is sweet while the “Khandvi” are mildly spicy with their special cumin seed and “Kadi patta chaunk”. If you though “wada” can only be made with potatoes, think again and dig into some “Kachche kele k wade” to realize that not all fried food is full of starch. You just cannot make out the difference between the taste of potato wada and the raw banana wada. This is a Gujurati specialty for fasts.
Couple these with the “Dahi Chutney” which resembles “kadhi” but is much thinner in consistency and sour to complement the mildly sweet flavors of the Gujarati starters. Most of the starters are steamed and hence very healthy and light, just what the digestive system needs during the monsoons.
For the main course, the choice is just as wide. The “Aloo Bhindi”, which was a first time and a pleasant surprise for me is a good choice to go with the sumptuous puris. The paper thin masala “Theplas” are a delight with their sweet and spicy flavor. For those who prefer rotis, their tandoori rotis go well with the subzis on offer as well. If absolutely light food is your choice for dinner, the “gujarati kadhi” with the “moong daal khichdi” or plain steamed rice are for you.
The Kadhi is thick in consistency and delicately flavored with cumin seeds, and green chilies. The daal fry is a mid range spicy concoction for those who love their spices but not too much!
For dessert, you can select from a huge buffet with the choicest of desserts your sweet tooth could demand. I stuck to the authentic Gujarati “Amrakhand” generously garnished with pistachios and kesar, sweet and sour, a perfect end to the meal.
The Gujarati Festival and Chef Buralal at Shakahari shattered the myth that Gujarati cuisine is all about sweet and sweet and more sweet. It is a bundle of flavours to tickle the palates, with the sweet playing the role of continuity, ever so mildly.
The Experience is made absolutely delightful through by the service which is speedy and the relaxing atmosphere.
So go ahead and beat the Shravan blues with some delicious Gujarati delicacies at the Authentic Vegetarian Restaurant, Shakahari at the Pune Mariott convention center from 16th July to 31st July.
Address: Pune Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune.
Beat the summer heat with some light Italian fare at Alto Vino (Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre) with the Italian Grill festival (La Griglia) from 6th July-15th July.
Enter the soothing ambience of Alto Vino to be greeted by an open kitchen where you can watch your food being cooked right before your eyes. The interiors are welcoming and classy in tones of beige, with huge tables for the perfect family meal. Muted music in the background makes this the perfect setting to enjoy some light yet succulent Italian grills.
Whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian, there’s something for everyone to savour at La Griglia. “Grill grill grill”, exclaims Chef Huber when you ask him what inspired the Grill festival. In Italy, summer times are the best time to bring that barbeque stand out for the good old grill. Chef prefer a huge steak on the table, but he does offer you the choicest of meats and sea food to satisfy the palate. Take your pick of wines to go with your meal.
The tiger prawns, the sumptuous baby chicken and delicately flavored Salmon platter is the meat lovers delight. You can taste the charcoal as it intermingles with the delicate marinades. The taste of the meat is not over powered with spices, just ever so subtly flavored with herbs and olive oil. Try the Gambero Black Tiger (Giant Tiger Prawn) if you are the prawn lover or the Polietto for the chicken lovers. Combine these with some salsa verde or homemade barbeque sauce if you like a little spice.
There are a variety of Salads to go with the meat delicacies. Try the Tomato and onion Salad with Balsamic. Or the Grilled Spicy bell pepper. The baked potatoes with the creamy centers and subtle flavor of pepper and herbs is a sure winner for the sidings.
For the vegetarians, the Grigliata Mista Vegetale con scamorza is a brilliant choice. It comes with grilled bell peppers, tomatoes and aubergine finished with a Scamorza cheese which takes some time to melt in your mouth. You can taste hints of basil and olive oil. I wish, however, the aubergine didn’t taste so bitter.
If you are a bruschetta lover, you must try their mixed vegetable bruschetta and the cherry tomato with garlic bruscetta for the tangy flavor.
“The meats and cheese are imported”, explains the Chef. The quality of the food and the experience speak for itself. I felt light as a feather after this filling yet light Italian grilled meal. Taste some authentic Italian grill from the comforts of India at Alto Vino.
Table for Two: Rs 2000-3000
Address: Alto Vino, Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
The entry of Out of the blue, a popular restaurant from Mumbai was just that, OUT OF THE BLUE! The glitterati of Pune was seen intermingling to the sound of live music.
Located in the ground floor of E-sq, Out of the Blue serves Pastas, sizzlers and Fondue. When you walk in to the entrance lobby, interesting paintings and wall sculptures greet you. Through a lopsided gateway, decorated with green creepers, you enter the courtyard area, which though not open to the sky, still gives you the feeling of being in one with the vertical gardens and delicate creepers interspersed with white upholstered easy chairs. A special feature of this area is the cluster of inverted, sculpted umbrellas fitted into the ceiling. It adds a lot of drama to the space besides creating a very ambient mood. Sit here and enjoy some coffee and creamy cakes so temptingly in view no matter what table you’re occupying!
Moving into the main area of the restaurant, you look straight into the well equipped bar. A live performance added immensely to the atmosphere, which is utterly casual while being sophisticated. There’s a tasting corner, where the chef will whip out one of his new inventions and you get to taste it. You can also taste wine here. Added bonus!
Done up in shades of turquoise and off white, the ambience is designed to relax you and make you feel at home. There’s plush burgundy Japanese style seating for those of us interested in having our meals cross legged while being from a lampshade fashioned like a hat. Fresh flowers and candle light make it the ultimate relaxation zone.
The quirky painting dominating the left side wall had me riveted for quite a while.
I started with their trademark Jaljeera Mojito, with the tang of lemons and freshness of jaljeera. Nice cooler if you just got of the heat! There were delicious nibbles in the form of starters. The baby corn starter was crispy in its golden brown coating and the tiny pesto toast was a crunchy delight with the faintest hint of herbs. The chicken starter was done just right.
The minestrone, tomato based vegetable soup (zucchini, broccoli, baby-corn, carrot, beans and pasta flavored with basil, and a touch oregano ) although piping hot, tasted like “rasam”. You can add chicken to It if you prefer. It was a bit too sweet and left me craving for something spicy to take away the sweetness. There was the Ceaser Salad which is the House Favorite. Crispy ice-berg lettuce, toasted pesto croutons, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, topped with zesty Italian gorgonzola blue cheese dressing, definitely a healthy and tasty treat. There was also the Grecque Salad with its leafy greens, raisins, tomatoes, olives and crumbled Feta cheese. Another juicy, healthy treat with its olive oil seasoning. I was happy with the Salads.
For the main course, I tried their mixed vegetable gravy and the baby corn gravy with plenty of chopped onions and red/yellow bellpeppers. Wiped off with a bit of the fresh herb bread, it was quite a culinary delight bordering on the spicy side. There was a wide variety of breads to choose from with the cheese dips. All delightfully fresh and beautifully presented. The creamy pesto, a house favourite, served creamy was light and tasty. The delicate flavours of basil and garlic added much interest to the overall taste and left the palette feeling happy.
Out of the blue is known for some of its signature dishes, which can’t be found in any recipe book! Their desi fondue, served hot (literally) with cubed and toasted bread and a selection of vegetables is sure to bring out the “Desi “ in you. Try this one only if you’re a fan of Indian Italian Cuisine.
I rounded off the meal with cheesecake and a crunchy chocolate pastry. The cheesecake, slightly crusty, just melted in the mouth and left it feeling like heaven. I mixed some of my crunchy chocolate pastry with this, and the result was even more satiating.
Out of the blue has a wide range of wines to choose from, to go with your cheesy and spicy delights.
The staff is courteous and friendly. The ambience gets full marks and you’ve chosen the perfect time to be there if you plan to go when a Live performance in underway.
Don’t miss out on the “Wiz of Blue” placemats and the quirky prints in the washrooms (yes I went in to the gents washroom just to check them out).
Watch this space for a detailed review and must haves from the menu.
Tucked away in the 5th lane of the green Koregaon Park, Malaka spice is a lovely restaurant specializing in South East Asian cuisine.
You are greeted warmly at the reception and shown to a table (which I sugest you reserve in advance especially over a weekend visit) in the air-conditioned indoor area or the outdoor seating where little droplets from the misters keep you cool. Rice paper lanterns and candle light for a soothing dinner. Tranquil music and tiny water ponds add to the atmosphere of peace. The walls are adorned with artwork by budding artists inside as well as outside. If you’re lucky, you can have yourself sketched while you eat.
An interesting and innovative thought at Malaka Spice are the placards of the host at each table. Every table has a special host/attendant and their smiling faces definitely do their bit in putting you at ease while they help you with your selections of food items. What really holds your attention though is the menu; it is beautifully designed to weave a story line around the Malaka Straight and is an extensive menu of food inspired by the owners travel to all these places. ‘Inspired, not copied’ is Malaka Spices tagline, so if you’re looking for an authentic anything, be prepared to have the Chief and Owners twist on it! They also have special menu for the seasons. Do try their winter menu, replete with a lot of sea food and fish!
Malaka offers a wide range of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. I personally live by mock tails and I simply adore their banana and pineapple crush. I did not particularly enjoy the Pinnacolada, which was way too sweet and had lost its trademark coconut flavored undertones. The Thai ice tea goes well with the spicy delights. Take your pick to go with the meal.
Some of my favorites at Malaka have been the lotus stem tango and green chilies and pepper mushrooms. Both leave a pleasantly tangy taste in your mouth and make great appetizers. You can also try the veg top hats which are full of spicy sprouts in canapés which have to be stuffed whole into the mouth and literally burst there in a firework of flavors. The momos comes in little woven caskets, steamy and melt in the mouth. But you have to wait for them a little while. If you prefer something non vegetarian, try the Chicken Top hats.
In the main course (which I suggest you place an order for along with your starters to avoid a longish gap) , there’s the Malaka Thai Green curry which is a brilliant concoction of lemon grass, kaffir leaves, coconut milk, shallots and a variety of vegetable cooked to perfection. Try some Malaysian shredded herb rice to go with this. The spicy curry blends amazing with the light rice so that every flavor can be tasted. The Thai noodles with crunchy peanuts are also a good pick, with the generous fill of peanuts and asparagus leaves with flat noodles. I would also recommend the Sambal crunchy veggies.
You can’t not dip into some dessert after this. Try their apple pie with vanilla ice cream or the honey noodles with ice cream (which I found a little heavy after the filling meal). The apple pie, however is light with a subtle essence of cinnamon and of course cut pieces of apple.
All in all, Malaka spice has such a wide range of cuisines and dishes to try, that you cannot and will not tire of this place. No one can eat just once.
Meal for Two: Rs.1600
Verdict: If you love South east Asian cuisine, then Malaka spice is the place for you.
Address: Lane No. 5, Oxford Properties, Off North Main Road, Koregaon Park, Pune