The latest entrant to the KP night-life scene – Unwind, Pune, brings with it a superb experience for patrons. Located right next to Hard Rock Cafe, Unwind spreads over 3 different areas, an open-air AL fresco/live music area, a night-club and a bistro, with wooden tables, high chairs, sofas and an overall chill vibe.
I was invited for a tasting at the Al fresco area with #TheBTeam.
We started off the evening with a few cocktails. Once that truly stood out was The Hugo. Traditionally made with Prosecco, Elderflower and Mint, this version at Unwind uses white wine. Truly a delicious concoction, this is one drink you must order when in this neck of the woods.
They also make a pretty good Cosmo. And you really can’t go wrong with Mojito!
Brocoli isn’t something you would see very often on my plate. Surprisingly enough, the Malai Brocoli makes it to my must-order list at Unwind! Perfectly grilled broccoli, with the soft cream – super delicious!
We tried 2 different types of sheek kabas, Murg Anari Sheek and the Indo Thai Sheek. I personally couldn’t detect much difference in either – given a choice – I would take the Anari Sheek – purely for how pretty it looked.
The Barbados ka Zhinga are grilled prawns with a dark rum flambé. While the theatrics were impressive, the result of the flambé was a dry and overcooked prawn in a pool of watery-rum.
Zafrani Murg Tikka are a good option, a simple no-nonsense chicken tikka – well cooked, served with a cream sauce topped with zafrani spices.
We were also served Chilli Garlic Fish as a starter. The dish that appeared had a lovely sweet and sour sauce – I would love to dig into this dish as part of the mains, along with a serving of Butter Garlic Fried Rice
Among the mains, I particularly loved the Thai Red Curry. Perfectly balanced curry with a generous amount of prawns.
We ended the meal with a Chocolate Mud Pie. Sadly, this was more of a cake than a mud pie – it was dense and was missing the crumbly chocolate crust you would associate with a mud pie.
Overall, the place has good vibes, great cocktails, and a decent array of food to go along. Open air live music, partying in the club, or chilling with friends, Unwind has it all.
I was invited to be part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
212 All Day Cafe and Bar has launched a number of new items on their exhaustive menu. #TheBTeam was invited last night to try out some of the brilliant stuff on offer.
We started off with a round of mocktails. The Good Morning Bombay – a teetotaler’s version of the Bloody Mary, packed a punch. This chilled tomato based drink was loaded with pepper and Tabasco – to the point of tasting more like a Gazpacho than a mocktail. Delicious and refreshing, nonetheless.
Among the other mocktails on the menu, the R&R – a strawberry lemonade, was particularly good.
First up to our table were Mrs. Beaton’s Eggs – masala scrambled eggs on a buttered bun pao, with potato slivers and a tomato hollandaise. Scrambled eggs and buttered pao is a match made in heaven, and the cheesy hollandaise added a lovely creamy note to this pairing. A must have, if down here for a snack!
Curried porridge, (aka dalia khichdi) was well made. The garnish of peanuts and edible flowers did add some sophistication to this homely meal.
The Egg Plant Bruschetta was definitely the highlight of the vegetarian fare at 212. Caramelized onions merged beautifully with the egg-plant mash, with the figs and brie adding some lovely overtones of sweet and sour flavor.
Giving us company through this whole tirade of food were two innocuous looking dishes – the 3 Hummus Pita and the Trio of Chips and Salsa. The huge bowl of tricolored chips with the array of dips was munch heaven, and the three types hummus (Beet, edamame and burnt garlic) with the crisp pita was just perfect. Definitely order one of each for a nice long chat session here. You wont be disappointed.
One dish that you MUST NOT MISS is the Poutine. 212 dishes out an absolutely fabulous version of this French Canadian street food. Cheesy french fries, topped with sour cream and a delicious lamb mince gravy, corn and peas (or caramelized onions, mushrooms and corn for the herbivores) was easily my favorite item on the menu. I could eat buckets of this. BUCKETS!
There were two versions of prawns served to us. The Grilled Tiger Prawns were highly Instagrammable, though the tangerine sauce could have used a bit of oomph. It was underwhelming, at best. The Chettinad Prawns, on the other hand, were a revelation. The crisp coating had hints of chettinad masala. Fried with red chilli, and served with a spiced mayo, this is another highly recommended dish at 212.
They have also added to their range of burgers and pizzas. While the Monster Chicken Burger is a sight to behold, the Chettinad Cottage Cheese Pizza with its combination of basil, curry patta and chettinad masala was quite unpalatable. The Roast Chicken Sandwich (Panini) was rather lovely, with a generous amount of melted cheese and caramelized onions.
For dessert we thoroughly enjoyed the Tiramisu Eclairs. The choux pastry topped with the airy Mascarpone and coffee dust proved to be an absolute masterful dessert for coffee lovers. Its deceptive – this dessert is one of the lightest I have ever had.
Overall, the new menu items add some lovely Mediterranean and Latin influences to the already diverse menu at 212.
I was invited to be part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
Check out the lovely Bellydriven’s take on 212 here.
Arthur’s theme has been the epitome of European themed food in Pune for over 10 years now. Last month they launched a few super interesting new items, with even more cryptic names. Here’s a quick look.
York: skewered, grilled prawns served with mustard mayo. Perfectly grilled prawns, with mayo – can’t go wrong there.
Sancho: Grilled calamari with herbs. The calamari were not fresh, and the dish was overall bland
Constantine : Breaded roll made with hammered piece of chicken, chicken ham and smoked cheese. Definitely one of my favorite items from the menu. Crisp outer breaded coating, soft chicken, and gooey cheese. Served with a spicy sriracha sauce, this is absolutely fantastic!
Philip: A Cheesy creamy Quinoa risotto with mushrooms and bell peppers. Well cooked quinoa, delicious cream sauce, an excellent option for vegetarians
Angela: Perfectly cooked vegetarian lasagna.
Julien: Another delicious vegetarian dish – this was a crisp wafer like crepe stuffed with mushrooms, topped with mushroom sauce, served over a bed of mashed potatoes. The crisp crepe added the much needed texture and bite to this dish. The mushroom sauce, buttery stuffed mushrooms and mashed potatoes were perfectly seasoned, and went beautifully together.
Benedict: This herb crusted fish fillet served sriracha sauce and steamed vegetables failed to impress despite the Parmesan coating, mostly due to being dry and overcooked.
Stuart: On paper, Stuart looks perfect – Chicken ham and cheese stuffed in a chicken breast, topped with a spicy sauce served with rice. Sadly, another dry, overcooked piece of meat, and another disappointment.
Stephen: This was my favorite non-vegetarian dish among the new entries in the menu. Julienne carabeef, bell peppers, sauteed in garlic oil, in a mushroom and red wine sauce, served with rice. Red wine, mushrooms and beef are a match made in heaven, and the flavors were absolutely perfect. Hint of parsley added a nice dimension to the overall dish.
We ended the meal with the Affogato: a shot of arabice espresso served with scoop of vanilla ice-cream and brownie crumble brownie. The hot espresso with the ice cream tasted absolutely heavenly – so much so, tat I actually ended up ordering a shot of espresso, just to enjoy the lovely brew they serve at Arthur’s.
Some of the other new items on the menu we tried out were: Atlas, black olive mash and mushrooms paste on crisp toasties, Penda, chicken tenders cooked with bourbon whisky and Ronald, bbq chicken wings
We sampled some of the new pizzas, as well as Paul, crepe stuffed with gouda
Ending the meal with some theatrics, was the Dark chocolate ball.
With the food, we also tried a new beer at Arthur’s, the 1664 Blanc Beer. This is a light (4.5% ABV) and smooth Belgian witbier style, brewed in Alsace, France. It pours a fine yellow liquid with a little foamy head. Strong citrus flavor – Lime / Lemon rind taste is fragrant and obvious, with some subtle spicy notes. It goes down easy. Very summery, very enjoyable.
As always, this was a very enjoyable meal at Arthur’s Theme. One of my personal favorite places in Pune.
I was part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
A couple of weeks back I visited Grills and Muse – Alakesh Baruah’s newest brain child.
Situated right next to Flying Duck at Baner-Pashan Link Road, Grills and Muse is Alakesh’s take on North Indian cuisine.
We started off the meal with the Mirchi Malai Kabab. It tastes a lot like the popular Reshmi Kabab but the chopped green chili gives a beautiful light after-burn, leaving you salivating for more.
The Chicken Butter Wings Tandoori is a lovely take on the Tandoori chicken. Coated with a glossy butter glaze, the tandoori chicken takes on a beautiful buttery flavor, giving it an almost baked-goods flavor.
I also tried the Quail Biryani. While the biryani rice and and salan accompaniment is delicious, the quail it self was slightly overcooked (probably due to the dum process). I would love to try out their mutton biryani, which, going by the flavor of biryani and the next dish i am going to speak about, should be spectacular.
(PS: Just noticed that the Quail biryani is now off the menu – speaks volumes of how the restaurant evolves)
Lamb Shank – This is a “must have” dish at Grill and Muse. The meat was so beautifully cooked, that it fell off the bone as I tried to pick it up. Delicious thick dark brown gravy, chock full of garam masalas, this is what North Indian cooking is all about.
While it is a polar opposite of the cuisine served at Flying Duck, you see the same care, service and impeccable attention to detail that we have come to associate with Alakesh’s brands.
Looking forward to more from the GnM kitchens!
I was invited for a tasting. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
A couple of weeks back I was at On Fire! for a lazy Sunday brunch. With the monsoons in Pune, nothing beats a lovely evening on a roof top restaurant. Cool wind, chilled out music, and a nice hot kabab on your plate. With a quirky roof top setting, Wakad’s newest star is, literally, a breath of fresh air.
We started off the meal with a Tom Kha Gai – a Thai coconut soup. while the soup had oodles of chicken, the size of the diced chicken was way smaller than the baby corn and capsicum, leading to an overload of veggies in the mouth. Good flavor of coconut with a distinct hit of red chili ensured that I drank through the entire bowl.
The Texas Hot BBQ Wings were absolutely brilliant. The dark shiny color of the barbecue sauce coating the chicken wings got us salivating, and it didn’t disappoint. Chicken wings in a sweet sticky barbecue sauce – right up there with the best in Pune. The sprinkle of chili flakes over the top left a nice little bite at the end, leaving us asking for more.
The Asian Noodle Salad was a surprise for me. Made with crispy noodles, fresh vegetables, loads of shredded chicken and a tomato ketchup base, it tasted a lot like the chinese bhel you get at a chinese tapri. More specifically for me, it evoked a memory of the chinese bhel at Toons, Camp. This would a great accompaniment with a glass of beer!
The Kai Ni Haar, Prawns wrapped in Chicken strips: Now, I am usually a fan of prawns wrapped in pretty much anything (my favorites being the Bacon Wrapped Prawns and Sausages at Effingut Baner, and the Bacon Wrapped Prawns at Zamu’s.)
Here, the mint sauce was way too overpowering. Another pressure point in any prawns wrapped dish is the cooking of the prawns with respect to the outer coating. The prawns were almost raw, with a well cooked chicken outer. I would give this one a pass.
The Irani Tangdi Kabab is an absolute delight for tandoori lovers. Juicy chicken legs coated with a Tabasco sauce, freckled with chili flakes. A fantastic twist on a desi classic.
By this time we were full to the brim. The only main course we could have was Mutton Rogan Josh. Soft succulent mutton in a lovely medium spicy gravy. This is comfort food in its truest sense. Dunk a bit of butter naan and you are in heaven.
We ended the meal with the fried ice-cream. If you haven’t had fried ice cream before, give this one a try. Its a scoop of ice-cream, coated with bread crumbs, and deep fried! A hot crispy outer shell coated with hot chocolate sauce, and a frozen ice-cream center is sinfully good. The two scoops were vanilla and chocolate. If possible, request the server to give you only vanilla scoops. Vanilla in the fried ice cream tastes much better than the chocolate, imho.
We did try a few other starters from the menu, including the chinese and ‘continental’ ones. My personal opinion: Stick to indian. The chef is really good at indian dishes, both. kababs and curries, and with the roof-top setting, you really cant go wrong with a desi plate of food.
Overall, its a great spot to chill with friends or enjoy a lazy Sunday brunch. What;s even better is they have a Saturday AND Sunday brunch – a buffet spread for 475/-. A complete steal.
Baconbaba is super happy!
I was invited as part of a bloggers table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
8th of July marked my 33rd birthday. As my lucky stars would have it, Mercure Hotel, Lavasa approached me to cover their prestigious establishment for baconbaba.com for the same weekend. I grabbed it with both hands, and landed up at the doorstep for lunch.
An hour and a half drive from Pune, nestled away on the other side of the famous Lavasa lake, Mercure enjoys an amazing view of the valley. With a tiny bridge over the cutest brook possible, you CANNOT get a more picturesque spot for chai and bhajjis this side of the Mulshi valley
The check-in process was smooth, and we were shown to our rooms. The rooms are spacious and fully stocked – just what you would expect from a top notch hotel from the Accor Hotels family
As we reached the hotel just after 3:00 PM, we were famished. After a quick freshen up in our rooms, we headed to Celebrations, the in house restaurant. As part of the monsoon special, we got to try out some of the chef’s specials on the menu.
Among the starters, we loved the Mongolian Fish. While there wasn’t too much ‘mongolian’ about the preparation, the batter fried basa was just perfect for the weather. This with a beer or a rum n coke is a match made in heaven!
Pihu, being a complete prawns fan, gobbled down the Golden Fried Prawns. Fresh prawns, crisp tempura batter, we asked for seconds of this dish.
My personal favorite was the Lamb Nihari – a chef’s version of this famous dish. Gloriously well cooked lamb, in a red gravy with a hint of cinnamon and saffron.
We also tried the samosa chaat and the chicken salad (as part of the monsoon tasting menu).
The coup de grâce of the meal was the Chef’s special Sundae. Cubes of chocolate brownie over a bed of fresh fruits, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, encased on a golden sugar net. As the hot chocolate melted the sugar net and cascaded down the melting quenelle of vanilla ice cream, it slowly coated the brownie cubes, gradually hitting the fruit at the bottom. Indeed, special!
We wrapped up the heavy meal and moved to the al-fresco area to chill. The spectacular view and the light drizzle made the perfect spot for chai.
After a brief nap in our room, and a walk around the promenade, we headed back to the hotel for the buffet dinner. The buffet, while not as spectacular as the ala-carte menu, is pretty decent, with quite a few options for veg and non-veg. Priced at 899/- AI, its an excellent deal for visitors to Lavasa to enjoy a lavish meal.
Ordered drinks from their bar and had a nice long session in their al fresco area, enjoying the fresh air.
The restaurant has a cute little children’s play area, where you can leave your kid and enjoy your meal! That, pretty much made our day!
Woke up fresh on Sunday morning feeling a bit older (I was 33 years and 1 day old!) Breakfast is an elaborate affair at Mercure. Apart from the regular fare (Poha, idly, vada, usal, porridge, eggs, etc – all good btw!) their made to order waffles and pancakes are absolutely superb. Served with maple syrup or honey, you couldn’t ask for a better start to the day. I could possibly make an early morning trip to Lavasa just to get this breakfast!
Overall, it was a fantastic experience at Mercure. Great hospitality, comfy rooms, amazing views, and fantastic food. A perfect weekend getaway.
Disclaimer: I was invited to enjoy the complimentary stay-cation by the PR. The Usual Disclaimer applies. A special shout out to Pamela Paul Mitra and the management of Mercure, Lavasa for hosting me and my family, and making my birthday extra special.
In the words of a learned friend, the legendary Dal Bukhara at the ITC Maurya, New Delhi is like a bucket list item for every foodie worth his salt. And that is what the newly opened Sheesha at Ishanya Mall, Pune brings to the table.
A brainchild of the Ex-ITC chef Kadar Khan, inventor of the ‘original’ Dal Bukhara, one is assured to be served some truly authentic Nawabi cuisine here.
Dal Bukhara is a combination of urad dal (whole black lentils), tomatoes, ginger and garlic. Cooked and simmered over slow coal fires of the tandoor overnight for 18 hours at a stretch, the Dal Bukhara at Sheesha is simply luxurious. Dip in a butter naan into this dal, sit back, and relish the glory.
We tried the Chicken Tangdi Kulfi – a leg of chicken drowned in a white sauce made of milk and cream, embalmed inside a foil wrapper. The chicken is cooked in the cheesy creamy goodness, leaving behind a oozy, gooey chicken leg.
A Mutton Sheek Kabab is something I can’t resist ordering anywhere I go. Juicy meat, lightly flavored, perfectly cooked – the long marination of the mutton shone through in this dish.
My only issue with the kababs here is the fact that they are served on a sizzler plate. They tend to overcook and go dry (specially when one is obsessed with photographing food before eating it!) So, dig in the moment the plate arrives!
The Mutton Rogan Josh is yet another magical mutton marvel here at Sheesha. The chef let us in to a secret method of cooking. The mutton is wrapped in layers of muslin while being slow cooked over a tandoor fire. The muslin cloth allows the flavors to soak through the mutton, while holding in the juices of the meat, leaving the meat moist and and delectable when opened. The stock that it is cooked in forms the base of this delicious curry.
For desserts, do give the Lahsoon ki Kheer a try. The mild flavor of garlic is an interesting twist on this classic dessert
An excellent addition to the slowly reviving Ishanya Mall, Sheesha is a welcome addition to the Pune food scene.
I was invited as part of blogger table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
White Owl Beer is an extremely popular brand of craft beer, available On Tap at over 70 prominent restaurants and bars across Mumbai and Pune, with numerous establishments in the pipeline. White Owl Brewery will soon debut its two most popular craft beer styles in “Bottles” to cater to strong consumer demand in the retail market. The bottles will launch soon with ‘Diablo,’ a light Irish Red Ale, and ‘Spark,’ a citrusy Belgian Wit. #TheBTeam was invited to the uber-cool Raasta Cafe, Baner to try out these lovely brews.
Brewed in small batches under the leadership of a highly-experienced and internationally-trained brewing team and boasts crisp, complex flavors, distinct aromas, an alive, inviting appearance and smooth texture.
The Spark is a Belgium style wheat beer. Citrusy with mild orange undertones, it is a light-medium body beer. Perfect accompaniments include any medium spicy bites like chicken wings or pizza.
Diablo is a mild roast caramel Irish red ale. My personal favourite, the caramel after taste is absolutely lovely.
We also tried Ace – an apple cider, that is set to be an absolute crowd favorite.
White Owl Brewery’s current portfolio – in addition to Spark & Diablo – includes: Halcyon, a crisp German Hefeweizen; Shadow, a dark English Porter; Torpedo, a punchy American Pale Ale; Paulina, a refreshing German Kolsch; and Ace, a bubbly French Apple Cider.
Shout out to Raasta Cafe, Baner for hosting the event. The food presented was absolutely spectacular. Super chill vibes, great music, and brilliant food to boot – this is one of the best places to chill out in Baner.
A South Indian Buffet spread with an array on Non-Veg dishes is something that appeals to the senses. The on-going “Taste of South India” festival at Courtyard by Marriott, Chakan is just what the doctor ordered to bring in the monsoons.
The hotel itself is located at the Chakan MIDC (Click here for the Google Maps Location) – at least a 45 minute drive from Baner. However, the route is a scenic one, as it takes you through the Dehu cantonment area (or the old Mumbai Pune – Dehu – Talegaon – another unexplored route). Planning a long drive with your significant other? This is the place to go to 🙂
The food makes the drive more than worth it. My personal favorite was the vegetable stew. Yes, I LOVED the Kerala vegetarian stew – arguably one of the best in Pune. It was a bit runnier than usual, but the abundance of carrots, beans, cauliflower, with the coconut milk and a hint of red chilli resulted in a broth that was both sweet and umami at the same time. Dip in some hot steaming appams and you are at God’s own dinner table.
The pepper chicken and the chicken curry is no slacker either. The masalas used seem to be freshly roasted and ground, giving the dish a rich flavor. The base flavor of coconut and tamarind cuts through the spice, leaving behind a lovely sweet n sour after taste. The whole bits of coconut and red chilli give it the much needed kick.
You can’t have a south indian meal and not have rasam. Here, the chef presented 2 varieties of rasam, including a chicken rasam. The Chicken version was basically a chicken broth with the Chef’s home-made rasam mix. Spicy, yet light, this was a revelation.
The fish lover in me went gaga over the ‘Meen’ dishes. The meen varuval – a batter fried fish starter, was gulped down by the dozen, with a variety of chutneys and gun powder to give company. Even the fried idlis were crisp and on-point.
Dessert was a slight disappointment, as I would have preferred seeing a few more south indian inspired sweet dishes here – maybe a Payassam or a Kesari. The Sevai on offer seemed out of place, and was diluted way too much, to the point if being watery and bland. They had a lovely coconut water, tea and filter coffee stand that made up for the lackluster end to the meal.
The service was a bit of a miss, thanks to the long wait for the appams and porrottas. Also, the first few appams were charred from the bottom and raw on the top – possibly due to an over-hot pan or an over-eager sous-chef. Place your order in advance to avoid waiting for these. They did have bisibele bhaat, steamed rice and a passably fragrant chicken biryani to keep you going till the porrottas hit the plate.
Overall, an excellent meal – for 1000++ it definitely hits the spot.
The festival is on till the 16th of this month – you know where to go this weekend!
PS: I was invited as part of blogger table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.
Chef Deepu and The Three Wise Monks of the Cafe Mestizo and The Bombay Diaries fame recently launched the Viman Nagar branch of Cafe Mestizo. #TheBTeam was invited to take a dekko at the newest installment of this lovely eatery.
Nestled away in one of the bylanes of Viman Nagar, Cafe Mestizo gives you an instant feeling of coziness, even from across the road in this crazy hot weather. Canopied by lush green trees, the white and green awning give it a feel of an Italian cafe on the streets of Rome. It is hard to believe that this quaint looking cafe is just a hop skip and jump away from the bustling Nagar road.
The interiors follow a similar scheme of white and green – as one of the tiles adorning the walls suggests, it actually inspires you to “Eat Drink and Be Cozy”!
We had to start off with the famous Butter Chicken Pizza. Beautifully cooked, mildly spicy butter chicken on a hand-rolled thin crisp pizza base, covered with a layer of cheese. This is truly what dreams are made of.
We also tried the Kheema Overdose Pizza, another hand-rolled thin crust pizza, with a spicy chicken kheema masala. I found the kheema slightly over-seasoned, and a tad heavy on spice.
To beat the spiciness of the Kheema, we ordered a couple of their ‘summer special’ lassis. I particularly loved the Mint Lassi. Mint complimented the natural flavor of lassi beautifully without being overbearing. It also had a touch of kewra (which I mistook for khus) – perfectly to cool your senses.
The Caramel Lassi was another innovative drink – the mild flavor of Caramel blended beautifully with the sweet lassi. Mango Lassi remains a popular favorite, and the one at CM was on point.
As we were wrapping up the drinks, the heady fragrance of the famous Shahi Lucknowi Biryani wafted in through the restaurant. This biryani is right up there with the best in town. Considering that it is prepared in a central kitchen, the flavors were identical to the one served at the Balewadi branch. Layered rice, chicken, mild masala, topped with fried onions and served along with raita, salan and chutney, this is a winner.
And you can’t leave Cafe Mestizo without trying out their mind-blowing freak shakes (or as the Chef prefers to call it – MMS : Mestizo Messy Shakes!)
The Nutty Mocha is perfect for the coffee junkie – loaded with cream, chocolate, coffee and hazelnut, this one sure is decadent!
And we ended the meal with The Popcorn Shake! A @cafemestizopune special, with caramel popcorn and caramel shake, this just gave me a yummy caramel ki dakaar! It was super fun picking off the caramel popcorn from the sides. Dont be fooled by its size – it’ll get over before you know it, thanks to the ultra light whipped cream crowning this glorious MMS!
Overall, a super cozy feel good place – drop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a quick in-between snack, Cafe Mestizo is a super place to be.
PS: I was invited as part of blogger table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.