Nina Pinta Santamaria – What CREPE!

Nina Pinta Santamaria

So, for the past couple of months, we had been noticing this cool, retro looking food truck on the baner-aundh link road. Always seemed busy, which is usually a good thing in terms of food joints. Last night Sangeeta Majumdar and I headed over to try it out. And man, we loved it!

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The Food Truck

The Food Truck

The food truck is beautifully done up, with pretty lanterns hanging down, and a few stools strewn around for patrons to sit and gorge through the crepes. The menu is split into dessert, non-veg and veg crepes (yes they serve savory crepes, not something that’s very common in Pune.)

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Trippy Pretty Lanterns

Mutton-ki-baat

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The Mutton Ki Baat

Mutton keema stuffed crepe with onions – ultimate street food! Our first bite into this, and I knew I was going to order a second one! Sangeeta’s first reaction to this was “This tastes almost like Kosha Mangsho!” The blend of spices resulted in a not-too-hot, delicious stuffing. Slices of onions inside added some much needed crunch. The crepe itself was bland, which is exactly how it should be, while cooked to be just a tiny bit crisp at the edges, and soft at the center. The best part is that the crepe actually held up till the last bite, without breaking down or going soggy, making this perfect to be eating standing up, in one hand, without going messy.

Chicken Puneri

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The Chicken Puneri Crepe

Another savory non-veg crepe with bits of chicken, this one paled in comparison to the muton ki baat. While being delicious in its own right, the mutton keema variant is far better. It could also be due to my personal preference – I mean, you can’t really beat mutton keema, can you ūüôā ? Again, not too high on spices, with a similar flavor profile as the mutton one, this, too, is a delight to eat.

Death by chocolate

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Death by Chocolate – Image courtesy Nina Pinta Maria, Zomato

Crumbled chocolate brownie, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, almonds, gems – this was a flavor explosion! The brownie, almonds and gems gave some amazing texture to each bite, while the chocolate mousse, whipped cream and ganache came together in a mind blowing blend of chocolatey goodness, without being overly sweet. The best here was again the filling to crepe ratio, resulting in the crepe to be structurally sound right till the last bite! This one had Pihu, Sangeeta and me fighting over each bite!

Mango Cream

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The Mango Cream Crepe

To be perfectly honest, they didn’t have the Mango Ricotta crepe. Instead, they are currently selling a Mango and cream variant. This one is simple and delicious – a crepe, folded with fresh mangoes, mango pulp, and whipped cream. The magoes tasted fresh and juicy, while the cream added a bit of tartness to cut through the sweet pulp. I do wish they added some more cream (or another non-sweet element – caramel maybe?) to balance the mouth feel of each bite.

The Menu

They also have a couple of veg crepes (mushroom, paneer – didn’t try any, coz, well, mera Mangalwaar tha – Mangalwaar ko veg nai khaate) but then crepes themselves have egg in the batter, so pure-vegetarians, stay away.

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The Menu

The other dessert crepes on offer also seem pretty interesting, particularly the Banoffe one, which is served with dulce de leche and bananas – a match made in heaven – definitely something I want to try next time around. I was surprised to not see a Nutella crepe – coz, come on – you got to have a nutella crepe!

The Story

Overall, NPS is a fantastic addition to the Pune food scene – what I love is the fact that they have a limited menu, and they serve limited items, and they do it perfectly! The crepes are all priced between 100-150 INR, making it affordable, and total VFM. Service is quick, and the chefs work like a well oiled machine, quickly dishing out crepes within a few minutes.

Love it! Love it! Love it!

PS: Thank you Soham Bhatawadekar for the complimentary Mango Crepe 


Nina Pinta Santamaria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bubsterrs Porky Burgers!

The Love for Pork!

Its no secret that I love pork (#baconbaba ftw!) So naturally, when I was invited for a pork special tasting, I was excited. I love pork as a meat for 2 reasons – 1. it is extremely versatile in the ways it can be cooked – bacon, ham, smoked, pulled pork, steamed, medium rare, crisp fried, etc. and 2. the inherent flavor of the meat is lovely – that slightly sweet fatty-ness makes it just beautiful. Also, Bubsterrs has a history of having some great pork (anyone remember the pork overload?)

Porky Perfection

Jumping straight to the new menu, Vidur Mehmi, the chef/owner at Bubsterrs, really knows his meat. Every burger has the meat cooked to perfection – unlike a lot of Indian chefs, he doesn’t believe in incinerating the meat – he has the courage of taking it to the edge, where the meat is pink inside, and just right on the outside. In fact, I would love to see how he treats a steak – i bet he could pull off a medium rare to perfection. But I digress.

The Classic Pork Burg

We started off with the Classic Pork Burg. The simplicity of this burger made me fall in love with it. Light dash of mayo, one slice of tomato, and a bit of lettuce is all that is there, apart from the gorgeous patty itself. The pork patty is lightly seasoned, allowing the natural flavor of the meat to be the star. Lightly grilled on the outside, and perfectly pink in the inside, this one is all about the meat. On a scale of 1 to 10, this one is a major go!

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The Classic Pork Burg

The Spicy Pork Burg

Next up was the Spicy Pork Burg. Don’t let the name fool you – the spice level is low enough for the meekest of intestines. A dash of their inhouse chipotle sauce and a few slices of jalapeno are all that give it the ‘spice’. The patty it self, in addition to the mild seasoning from the classic pork burg, also has a teensy weensy bit of chilli flakes, just to add a bit of oomph to the perfectly cooked burger. And did i say it has crisp fried bacon?

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The Spicy Pork Burg

The BBQ’D Pork Burg

On the other end of the spectrum is the BBQ’D Pork Burg. The bacon is glazed in the same bbq sauce that lathers the pork patty itself, lending a lovely sweet n savory flavour to the hole bite. That being said, I could have done with something to cut through the overwhelming sweetness of the overall package (maybe a slice of jalapeno?) This one is perfect for the little ones.

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The BBQ’d Pork Burg

The Massive Porky Lucy

The last one up to the table was the Massive Porky Lucy. A Take on the classic Juicy Lucy, this had a blob of molten cheese right in the middle of the monstrous patty. As you bite into it, the molten cheese oozes out, leaving behind this feeling of awesomeness that only molten cheese can bring to you. Cooked in the classic ‘steaming’ style, the patty is beautifully balanced with the cheese.

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The Massive Porky Lucy

Salads? Really?

They have also introduced a bunch of salads. Now, this is one territory I strictly stay out of, coz of my general aversion towards raw food. But one particular concoction stood out for me, and that was the Chef’s Special Salad.

The Chef’s Special Salad

The Chef’s Special Salad consists of thinly sliced beetroot, glazed in balsamic vinegar reduction, with toasted walnuts, feta cheese and an olive oil/parsley infused dressing. There are few words in there that kind of put me off, including ‘beetroot’ and ‘salad’. But this was a revelation. The beetroot, due to the balsamic vinegar glaze, completely transformed the root vegetable. The sweetness of the beetroot and the balsamic vinegar, along with the seasoning, the crunch of the almonds, and the fresh veggies, resulted in a mouth feel like no other. For possibly the first time in my life, baconbaba is recommending a salad!

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The Chef’s Special Salad

Guys, if you are looking for a pork burger, this is the place to head to. #baconbaba approved!


I was invited to be part of blogger’s table. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Bubsterr's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baconbaba in Kolhapur!

Tikkhat Manjhe Swadisht Naahi!

The Kolhapuri Lavangi РA tiny little chili bomb local to this area.This is the flavor that defines Kolhapuri cuisine. But is it really?

There is a saying in Marathi – ‘Tikkhat manjhe swadisht naahi‘ (spicy doesn’t mean tasty). So which is it? Tikkhat? Or Swadisht? That’s what I was craving to find out.

As I had an opportunity to spend a day in Kolhapur with a good friend (who, incidentally, is a local of this city), I had to eat my way through this city. Here are some of the best spots I hit:

Hotel Parakh: Special Mutton Fry Thali

We landed in Kolhapur just around lunch time. The drive form Pune had left us ravenous, and we totally looking forward to our first meal in Kolhapur.

Hotel Parakh is a simple, no frills place with a basic menu – they do what they do best.

One of the best mutton thalis I’ve had in a long long time. Hotel Parakh, Kolhapur puts out this gorgeous plate of meat with perfectly cooked mutton fry and a lovely mutton kheema. 250/- for this plate of awesomeness is a steal!

But the showstopper here are the twin rassa bowls – Tambda and Pandhra.

The Pandhra rassa is a lovely white mutton stock base, lightly spiced. Dunk your bhakri and mutton fry to oomph up the flavors, or drink it up as a soup.

The Tambda rassa is spicy, but not what you expect. Cooked in mutton stock, you can see bits of Mutton fat floating around, giving it a bit of richness that only fat can give. It has a spectacular back of the throat hit, without putting your palate on fire. You can happily chug a few bowls of this fiery looking gravy without feeling numb lips or burning your throat. If anything, it triggers the taste buds, taking this lovely thali to the next level.

Chappal Alley

A whole lane dedicated to Kolhapuri Chappal stores? This one I could not miss!

The best Vada Pav in Kolhapur?

Right at the bustling Rankala lake sits Mr Ramchandra Patil, owner of Priyadarshini Mobile Canteen. What really set this apart is the MASSIVE vada served with a slice of bread and coconut chutney. The jumbo vada pav is delicious, very different from what we get in Pune/Mumbai, and the chutney truly makes it a delicious experience

Will the real All India Bhel please stand up?

All India Bhel is one of the iconic spots of Kolhapur. Affectionately known as ‘Raja Bhau Bhel Center’, this was set up in 1965. Over 50 years, they have created their legacy, and defined the street food scene in Kolhapur. The entire street where this is located is lined with food stalls, with the maximum crowds gathering around Raja Bhau Bhel Center

They work at lightning speed, preparing your bhel, customized to your liking (dry/wet, spicy/medium) in less than 30 seconds. Take a look:

The bhel itself is delicious – sweet, spicy, sour, with hints of raw mango, garlic chutney and chillies.

The funny part is the number of ‘All India Bhel Center’s that have propped up. I counted about 15 of them in a line at Rankala lake. All of them serve great stuff, no doubt, but the original is undoubtedly the best ūüôā

Dinner Scenes – Mutton at Opal

Another one of the iconic food spots in Kolhapur, Hotel Opal was set up in 1968. Today, about 50 years later, they continue to carry on the legacy. The food here is excellent. Must try the mutton thali (tambda-pandhra rassa, mutton fry, mutton curry and bhakri). Do not miss the solkadi to cool down the senses.

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Dessert Feels – Imperial Cold Drink House

Imperial goes beyond being called a legacy. Set up in 1910, this centurion is Kolhapur at its finest. Do not miss the Imperial Special Cocktail (with cake). Ice cream, milkshake, tooti fruity, jelly, dry fruits, fresh fruits (if u r lucky, u’ll get mango bits too) – this has it all. This is an absolute must after the spicy tambda rassa!

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Basundi Chah

We noticed this board on the way to Imeprial, and HAD to try it out. It is exactly as the name suggests – hot basundi, mixed with hot tea. The taste? Well, imagine drinking tea with condensed milk – super sweet, dessert-y, thick, creamy, with a flavour of tea. Definitely worth a try. You’ll find them lined up along Shivaji chowk after 5PM in the evening.

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Misal Scenes!

You can’t leave Kolhapur without eating Misal! Breakfast the next day is Misal at the oldest Misal joint in Kolhapur –¬†Hotel Bawada Misal.

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Established in 1923, they serve a form a misal very different from what we get in Pune. The tarri¬†is a lot thinner, and contains a blend of matki, chana and potatoes, topped with shaved coconut and dahi. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t burn your mouth spicy. It is a very balanced blend of spices, that will keep you craving for more.

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One day is not enough to explore the true beauty of the food that this lovely city has to offer. But what I experienced in these 24 hours provided me enough fuel to go back on another gastronomical excursion to further explore this city. #baconbaba will be back!

Shalom – Baconbaba eats his way through Israel!

Shalom!

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Israel, thanks to a business trip, and pleasurable it was! Israeli cuisine is all about freshness – Fresh fish, fresh salads and fresh bread. #Baconbaba takes you on a culinary journey across this land of beautiful food.

Breakfast in Israel

The day starts with a lavish breakfast. The typical Israeli breakfast is a grand affair with eggs, dairy, fresh fruits, salads, and of course, hummus

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Breakfast in Israel – Shakshouka, Quiche, Pita, Hummus, Cheese, Scrambled eggs, Fresh fruit juice

Hummus

Hummus is pretty much synonymous with Israeli cuisine. It’s versatile, delicious, filling yet super healthy. Made from a chickpea flour, there are several versions served across Israel, and no meal is complete without hummus. As an accompaniment with the famous Pita bread or the larger soft pillowy Lafa bread, a side dish with meat of fish, or simply as a meal in its own right (topped with salads, olive oil, a boiled egg, boiled chickpeas and spices), hummus makes an appearance at every meal!

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Hummus with Lafa bread

Falafel

For the vegetarians

The other contender for the ‚Äėnational dish‚Äô is the very popular¬†Falafel. This fried delicacy has made its way across the world and can be seen in almost every middle-eastern specialty restaurant. It‚Äôs now elevated from its street food origins and is seen in various avatars in restaurants and malls. Nothing beats a falafel when eaten hot and crisp, wrapped in a bun or pita bread, with ‚Äď you guessed it ‚Äď hummus!

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Falafel

Shakshuka

Eggy delights!

One specialty egg preparation that I particularly loved is called¬†Shakshouka¬†‚Äď a dish of eggs poached over a bed of tomatoes, onions, capsicums, eggplant, spinach and spices. Typically cooked and served in a cast iron pan, this breakfast dish of Moroccan origin proves to be an Israeli favorite.

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Shakshouka

Fish frenzy

Israel being majorly a coastal country, there‚Äôs no dearth of fresh fish. Fresh fish is served whole (Mediterranean style!) grilled or fried, dressed only with freshly squeezed lemon juice.¬†My experience was so amazing ‚Äď felt like the fish had just walked out the ocean behind my table and jumped onto the grill to land on my plate!

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Grilled ‘David’ fish
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A gorgeous grilled fish meal with salads at ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, Jaffa, Israel

Salads

Freshness galore

A major part of Israel is the sea cost or desert leading to water and land shortage for agriculture. To counter this, Israel is now a world leader in cutting-edge agricultural technology. And as a result, the array of fresh fruits and vegetables is beyond compare.

Israeli salads are fresh, delicious, and are served with an array of dips and dressings. No worry for vegetarians here ‚Äď a lot of healthy options are on offer!

Here’s how a typical Israeli salad buffet looks. (Notice the hummus? ūüėČ )

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Salad ‘platter’ at ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, Jaffa, Israel

Kosher foods

There’s an entirely different ‘kosher‘ (abiding to Jewish laws) and ‘Shabbat‘ (the holy day – Saturday) cuisine, which, unfortunately, I couldn’t experience. However, it is something on my wishlist on my next trip there!

I must also mention the amazing meat dishes like Chicken with couscous, Mousakka (Potato, eggplant, meat) and of course kababs. There’s no pork since it isn’t ‘kosher’ (i.e., not abiding to Jewish laws) but the beef and chicken dishes are right up there with the best – all with Turkish / Mediterranean / middle-eastern flavors.

Baked Goods

There is also a strong tradition of baked goods here. Streets are lined with bakeries serving cakes, pastries, breads and cookies with some very interesting flavors, owing to the middle-eastern influences. My personal favorite was the¬†Sambusak¬†‚Äď a soft bread stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, onions, meat etc ‚Äď served hot out of the oven!

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Sambusak – stuffed with cheese, onions, mushrooms

My trip was rather short ‚Äď 5 days isn‚Äôt nearly enough to truly experience a new cuisine, but the glimpse that I got was nothing short of wonderful.

Shalom!

Orion Baner – A galaxy of awesomeness!

Orion, Baner

One of the swankiest pubs to hit baner in recent times, Orion certainly has what it takes to make it big in the competitive food circuit. With a formidable cocktail menu, Orion brings a whole lot of gorgeously plated food to the table. #thebaconbaba was invited for a bloggers’ tasting table, and man, did I have an amazing time! Here’s a quick run down:

Three Mushroom Liquid with Melba Crisp

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This was a fabulous start to the meal. This is a lovely thick, creamy mushroom soup, lightly seasoned, allowing the flavors of the mushrooms to shine through.

Indian Spiced Pumpkin veloute

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Probably one of the prettiest looking pumpkin soups I have had in a long time, this one tasted absolutely delicious. Roasted pumpkin seeds added a bright little bite to the overall mouth feel.

Chicken Shorba

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This tasted more like a butter chicken gravy, than a soup. I would have happily lapped it up with a butter naan. However, I believe this is the type of shorbas served in the Kolhapur / Vidharbha area. It was delicious, so no complaints!

Garlic Bread with Red Onion Jam

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This has the potential to be a kickass dish. However, it was let down by the lackluster jam, and the soft bread. The toast needed to be toastier, and the jam needed so more ooomph. A bit of salt and 30 seconds more on the grill maybe?

Orion Special Kabab

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This was a good indian chicken kabab. Order this if you are looking for a “chicken tikka” or a chicken reshmi kabab”. Good flavors all round.

Country Style Maple Wings

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While these look absolutely gorgeous – that perfect sticky shiny coating, it ended up being way too sweet for my palate. It definitely needed more zing. The gentle coating of chilly flakes didn’t help.

Makhmali Roll

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These caught our eye the moment it landed on our table. The pink foam on top is truly a wow factor in the dish. It turned out to be a perfectly rolled chicken roulade in a beetroot foam. Beautiful textures, lovely presentation, an all round great dish.

Bangkok Chicken

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This one is for all the ‘tapri’-Chinese lovers out there (your’s truly included!) A crisp fried chicken in a crispy noodles “nest” – a wacky take on the ever-popular Chopsuey. Super yum – perfect for munching with drinks!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

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A standard chicken pizza on a hand rolled base. Nothing to write home about.

Black Lasagne

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This was another dish that really got our imagination running. The lasagna is black in color. While it looks super theatrical, and funky, it does not add much to the flavor. A normal tasting, cheesy, gooey lasagna. Not that it’s bad by any means!

Mezze Platter with Baba Ganoush , garlic Hummus & beetroot Hummus

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A gorgeous looking dish, mezze platters are the current craze of the city. Every chef worth his salt is serving up some form of hummus/pita dip combo contraption. Does Orion do enough to stand out from the competition? Maybe the addition of the chicken and paneer fingers does add some level of difference to the over all presentation, as does the baba ganoush. Honestly, the Baba Ganoush tasted a lot more like baingan ka bharta. They do need to tone down their spices, if they plan to make it more authentic.

Chocolate Cigars

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Do NOT leave this place without ordering up a plate of Chocolate Cigars (or 3, like we did). The cigars are freshly fried, and dipped in vanilla ice cream, coated with a lovely hot chocolate sauce. We asked for ours to be customized with chocoloate shavings, instead of the colorful stuff you see in the pic above, resulting in an absolute chocolate mouthgasm! The crispy outer layer, the hot molten chocolate inside, the cold ice cream and the bits of chocolate shavings on top – absolute pleasure. You HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO order this!

Cocktails

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They have a formidable list of cocktails. Each one we tried stood out from the previous one. their freak-shakes are worth a try as well. you can’t really go wrong there – go, get sloshed, have fun!

Overall, Orion is a great place, with super chill vibes. Great food, killer cocktails, and ample parking (yes that’s important!) Totally worth the trip!

#baconbaba khush hua!


Orion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Omlette Festival – Egg-stacy at Cabaret, Baner

Cabaret, Baner, Omlette Festival

Omlette! Perfect breakfast, ideal lunch or a light dinner – the one size fits all meal!

Cabaret, with its slick interiors and black n red furniture screams class. Its diverse menu with an emphasis on east asian food has been taking baner by storm over the past few months since its opening.

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They have started an Omlette Festival this month to add a few interesting eggy delights to their menu. I was invited with my family to try out some of these preparations.

Baked Western Omlette:

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Baked Western

In all honesty, this was a regular cheese Omlet, with all the bells and whistles. A generous amount of cheese, topped with veggies, the baked omlette is fluffy, and delicious. Served with garlic toast and baked beans, this is one Omlette that you can’t go wrong with.

Morroccon Omlette:

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Moroccon Omlette

A sunny side up, topped with cherry tomatoes, this does have a hit of spice to it. Chilly oil and chilli flakes made it spicy. Not one for the faint hearted, this one a definitely worth a try.

Japanese Omurice:

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Japanese Omurice

The Omurice at Cabaret consists of Chicken fried rice topped with an omlette and barbecue sauce. The bbq sauce was a bit too sweet for my palate, but the fried rice was yummy, leading to this being an excellent brunch item.

Opening hours for Cabaret Baner are 7am daily, making this the perfect breakfast place. Priced at 200/- a pop, the omlette Festival items are at par with all other similar joints in the area.

Definitely one to visit in the near future. The Omlette Festival is on till 28th of Feb. This menu is available at all the Peter Donuts outlets as well.


I was invited for the tasting event. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Cabaret Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch Feels – Many Funs, Much Chills at Hoppipola!

Brunch!
The word evokes feelings of a chilled out, lazy, long meal, filled with fun, laughter, booze, and copious amounts of food! How else can you define combining two meals into one – BReakfast+lUNCH! And Friends, Food, Fun – These three words define the experience I had at Hoppipola, Aundh a few weeks back, as I tried out there new brunch menu with #TheBTEAM fam.
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Drinks for Brunch?

No brunch can be complete without the ‘happiness’ of alchohol. And Hoppipola pulls out all stops with their exhaustive cocktail menu. Some ingenious, yet potent cocktails later, you can’t help swaying to the awesome music playing in the background

The Bull Frog

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My personal drink of choice, this Redbull-Vodka concoction definitely pulls no punches. If you are a Redbull fan, this should be your first choice!

The Long Island Iced Tea

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LIIT!

The LIIT is the usual choice of beverage for those looking for a delicious, potent option. Spiked with a multitude of ‘white’ drinks, this is one is no slouch in the ‘kick; department!

The White Wine Sangria

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Sangria

The quintessential brunch drink, wine lovers will be happy drinking this by the gallon

Starters

The Mezze Platter

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Mezze Platter

Mezze Platter

A beautiful combo of breads and dips, the Mezze platter provides multiple options to munch on while sipping.

Cheesy Nachos

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Nacho!

Can’t really go wrong with Nachos – available in both Veg and Non-Veg versions, Nachos are the perfect snack. You can’t really stop at one. I do wish these were a bit more loaded with cheese and toppings, since the ones at the bottom were left dry.

Railway Canteen Chicken Cutlets

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Railway Canteen Chicken Cutlets

These are basically chicken nuggets with a fancy name. Crispy outer layer, minced chicken inside, these are little bundles of deep fried goodness. Still can’t figure out the name though. Is it a reference to the heart shaped cutlets you get on the Indian Railways trains? They may need to reshape the cutlets to evoke those memories ūüôā

Cajun Rubbed Grilled Fish

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Cajun Rubbed Grilled Fish

Fish filet with a cajun spice rub, grilled to perfection. Whats not to love? Served with a spicy mayo, these are brilliant.

Paneer Pita Pockets

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Paneer Pita Pockets

I didn’t quite get the concept of these. Dry pita bread, dry stuffing, with virtually no sauce to speak of. This one was a miss.

Barbecued Chicken Wings

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Barbecued Chicken Wings

Chicken wings in barbecue sauce are usually a delight to eat. However, the sauce did feel a bit too sweet for my liking.

Grilled Chicken Pizza

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Grilled Chicken Pizza

A delightful thin crust pizza, with chicken tikka, bell peppers, & jalapeno, the pizza was something we reordered. Thrice. Loved it.

The veg version wasn’t too bad either

They also have a live pasta station, where they can prepare your choice of pasta, in your choice of sauce. Good stuff overall

Mains

If you do have the space left for mains, they have a couple of options, including veg/non-veg biryani and Bhurji Pao. I was a bit surprised at seeing bhurji pao for brunch. I mean, seriously?

Bhurji Pao

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Chicken Biryani

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Desserts

You can’t miss out desserts now can you? Sadly, the choice of desserts was very limited

Chocolate Mud Pie

The Chocolate Mud Pie felt more like a brownie than a mud pie. A delicious brownie, nonetheless.

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Vanilla Pannacotta with Berry Coulis

This one missed the mark. It didn’t have the trademark jiggle – felt over set and too gelatinous.

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Vanilla Pannacotta

Would I go there again?

Desserts apart, the brunch at Hoppipola is great. Priced at 555/-¬†for food only, and 444/- for drinks (unlimited), you can’t really find a better deal. The food is good, the vibe is great, and the drinks are boozy. What more can you ask for?

Definitely worth a revisit!


I was invited for the tasting event. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Hoppipola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sarjaa, Aundh – Face-lifted Classics

The Classics

Sarjaa – The name evokes memories of a hotel straight out of the 90’s – waiters in white uniforms, white and red checked table cloths, dim lighting, good Indian comfort food (read: butter chicken) and ghazals playing in the background. So you would pardon my surprise when I received an invite from Radio One to visit Sarjaa for a food tasting.

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sarjaa aundh baconbaba lata mangeshkar

The Facelift

But much to my astonishment, Sarjaa is no longer the establishment it was. Flanking the entrance is a board that proudly says “Indian Fine Dine”. This definitely piqued my interest. As I walked in through the beautiful wooden doors, I immediately noticed the change to the overall decor – gone are the checkered mats and the liveried waiters. Instead, you see clean white lines, bold colors, and a sharp bar. the al-fresco dining area now is lined with a lot of greenery, while the all day cafe section has a chic vibe – definitely a place you would like to chill with friends over a coffee or a beer (they have Bira on tap!)

sarjaa aundh baconbaba cafe

sarjaa aundh baconbaba alfresco

The Food

The food, on the other hand, remains the same. The classic dishes that Sarjaa is famous for, still feature in the new and improved menu card. They have added some dishes to the Chinese menu, however, I would stick to the classics.

sarjaa aundh baconbaba menu

Starters

We started off with the Mutton Boti kabab. A version of a mutton sheekh kabab – this was a great way of starting off the meal. Soft, tenderized mince meat, rolled into sheek kababs, these were as near perfect as you could get in this area.

sarjaa aundh baconbaba mutton boti
Mutton Boti

We also tried the Kharda Kolcha Kombdi Рa form of chicken tandoori coated with Thecha Рa green chilli chutney popular in Maharashtra. The spice of the green chilli definitely hit the mark, and for lovers of spicy food, this is a go!

sarjaa aundh baconbaba kharda kolcha kombdi
Kharda Kolcha Kombdi

For the vegetarians, we ordered a Kothimbir aur Cheese ke Chapete. The name is self descriptive Рthe cheesy center was gooey as ever.

sarjaa aundh baconbaba dhaniya cheese chapete
Kothimbir aur Cheese ke Chapete

Mains

For mains, we could not possibly miss the Sarjaa’s Butter Chicken. A slightly spicier version of the classic, the version dished out at Sarjaa is absolutely mind-blowing. Super rich, creamy, yet not overwhelmingly sweet, the bite of green chilly makes its presence felt. Coupled with a soft butter naan, the SBC is a must have when visiting this place.

butter chicken
Sarjaa’s Butter Chicken

The mutton Rogan Josh and the Daal Makhani are two more dishes that we truly relished. Perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth mutton pieces, in a gorgeous brown gravy with hints of ginger-garlic and black pepper, the Rogan Josh was our next favorite after wiping off the Butter Chicken. The Daal Makhani was well cooked and creamy, with an undertone of a slow cooked smoky flavor that a great Daal Makhani must have.

sarjaa aundh baconbaba butter chicken dal makhani
Mains

Desserts

They have limited options for desserts – we had to cheese between Gulab Jamun, Ice Cream and Malai Kulfi – we chose the Kulfi. This was a bit of a let down, as they outsource the desserts. Definitely room for improvement here. I would recommend finishing off mains here, and taking a walk down the road to check out the other dessert places in the vicinity.

The Verdict

Overall, the face-lift definitely makes this classic establishment feel fresh and clean. The Al-fresco area is a delight to dine in. The food maintains its classic feel. The only downside here is the plating. I would definitely like to see them work on the presentation, particularly since they are now re-branding themselves as “Indian Fine Dine”. You do eat with your eyes after all!

That being said, you can’t really go wrong here. Step in to the new and improved Hotel Sarjaa and relish the glory that it is.

The Usual Disclaimer

I was invited for the tasting event as part of the Radio One Pune Food Trails. The Usual Disclaimer applies.

Find them on Zomato

Sarjaa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 day. 2 hours. 3 cups of Taak. 4 intestines of steel. 5 Misals.

The Misal Trail takes off

Last week at the 11 ESB PEO tasting, Prashant Kunjir and I caught up, and he proposed going out on what he likes to call a #MisalTrail. Plans were drawn up, and Pashan was selected as our first hunting ground. D-day arrived, and we met at sharp 9:30 AM (to be perfectly honest, the agreed time was 8:45 AM, but, well IST), and set out taking down some amazing joints in the area. Here’s a quick run down

  1. Tapkir

The Special Misal. About a year back they shifted to Pashan from Sus-gaon, but they continue serving the same “thali”. Its an elaborate setup with taak, dahi, misal, pav, and a gulab jamun. Not too spicy, quite tasty.

misal pashan baconbaba tapkir

2. Shrimaan

This one is at the other end of the road, with its entrance tucked away in the corner of a grocery shop. The tarri here is quite tasty, though I found the ratio of matki to farsaan off. Wayy too much farsaan in the initial serving. Also, the tarri and the matki had clashing flavors, so adding the matki later didn’t work out. Totasted pav added some nice flavors though.

misal pashan baconbaba shrimaan
3. Avdhut

I had tasted this at the Misal festival a couple of months back. However, trying out the fresh batch early in the morning, right off the gas was amazing. Very delicious, with just the right amount of burn around the lips. Toasted pav. Full marks for this one.

misal pashan baconbaba avdhut
4. Someshwar

This on was on Pashan main road, on the way from Sai chowk to the highway on the left side. Another delicious medium spicy misal, served with toasted pav. This is literally an ‘everyday’ misal, i.e., I would be happy to eat this everyday!

The tarri had a nice bit of zatka, and a flavor of star anise was noticeable, adding a lovely flavor to the misal.

misal pashan baconbaba Someshwar
Someshwar

5. Shiv Malhar

Located across the highway towards Sus gaon, this is quite a “well developed” place with a large variety of misal types. With a lot of indoor and outdoor seating, this place has a nice view as well. Coming to the misal, we had options of Puneri and Kolhapuri Misal. We quickly figured out the only difference between the 2 was that they added som spicy tarri on top of the sampal for the Kolhapuri one. Wel,, names aside, this was also superb. We were full with the previous 4 places, but couldn’t stop lapping up some more. Definitely worth a weekend visit – lots of space for kids to run around, and the Puneri misal is low on spice.

misal pashan baconbaba Shiv Malhar
Shiv Malhar

PS: This is not an attempt at ranking any misal place. Each place had its own flavor, and we just want to appreciate each of them, while trying to understand what sets them apart.
More to come ūüôā

Spuds in a Pub! Murphies launches a new bar!

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Murphies, Koregaon Park, Pune

I have waxed eloquent about how Murphies, KP, Pune is elevating the humble aloo-bataka in one of my previous blog posts. Recently, they did up their upstairs section, converting it into a swanky, yet chilled out bar section. #TheBTeam was invited to sample some of the offerings on the bar menu

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Coconut Prawns

With a new bar, comes new food! Well, to be honest, the Coconut Prawns¬†is not a new item –¬†they did have the Coconut prawns on their menu. And if I remember correctly, the original recipe tasted more like a coconut ‚Äėpeda‚Äė wrapped around a prawn.

Well, the chef at Murphies seems to have got it spot on this time. Coconut shavings, and a mustard sauce lend themselves beautifully to the dish – making the prawn shine through. Reminded me of the Sorse Bata Chingri – a Bengali preparation involving prawns and mustard sauce. Absolutely delectable!

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Fried Chicken Murphs

Not to be left behind were the Fried Chicken Murphs. Bits of fried chicken (similar to popcorn chicken from a KFC, if that makes sense), drowning in melted cheese and the potato jacket – doesn’t get any better.

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Barbeque Pork Crisps

And my favorite dish from this bataka menu РBarbeque Pork Crisps: A dish that had me drooling like the pig! Beautiful slivers of barbeque pork, with sweet sticky sauce, over crisp salty potato crisps, served with a tart yogurt dip. Sweet, sour, salty, crispy, gooey… Flavor and texture heaven. Perfect balance. Spectacular dish.

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Mushrooom Rissotto

The vegetarian side of things isn’t too bad either. the Mushrooom Rissotto is arguably the best variant of this Italian dish (often described as the death dish in Masterchef Australia) Al-dente rice, loads of cheese and cream and butter, and that lovely delicate flavor of mushrooms with parsley – this dish was so good, we reordered it – correction – I reordered a veg dish! Its a buttery, cheesy, creamy, flavorful, mouthful of ecstasy!

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Also, worth a mention were the Beef quesadillas and the Chicken Strips.

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The Grilled Fish served to us was pretty good – though I personally preferred the prawns. There was a disagreement at the table on which was better. Its up to you I guess – if you prefer mild lemon butter sauce flavors of the fish or the strong mustard-coconut flavor of the prawns.

baconbaba-Murphies-pub-grilled-fish

As this is a bar, drinks are a given. Do no miss the Chocolatini! A chocolate based liqueur cocktail, this was so damn delicious! All you Baileys lovers out there will trip over this one for sure!

baconbaba-Murphies-pub-choclatini

The new Murphies menu has a lot going for them. They add on to an already impressive line up, and continue taking the humble aloo to the higher echelons of gastronomy!


I was invited for the tasting event. The Usual Disclaimer applies.


Murphies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Unwind, Pune – Chill scenes

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.IMG_20170609_212249

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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.

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The Hugo

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!

Malai Broccoli
Malai Broccoli

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.

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Murg Anari Sheekh
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Indo Thai sheekh

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.

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Zafrani Murg Tikka are a good option, a simple no-nonsense chicken tikka – well cooked, served with a cream sauce topped with zafrani spices.

Zafrani Murg Tikka
Zafrani Murg Tikka

We were also served Chilli Garlic Fish as a starter. The dish that appeared had a lovely sweet and sour sauce РI would love to dig into this dish as part of the mains, along with a serving of Butter Garlic Fried Rice

Chilli Garlic Fish
Chilli Garlic Fish

Among the mains, I particularly loved the Thai Red Curry. Perfectly balanced curry with a generous amount of prawns.

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We ended the meal with a Chocolate Mud Pie. Sadly, this was more of a cake than a mud pie Рit was dense and was missing the crumbly chocolate crust you would associate with a mud pie.

chocolate Mud Pie
Chocolate 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.


UNWIND Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

212 All Day Cafe and Bar, Viman Nagar – New Menu

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.

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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.

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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!

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Mrs Beaton’s Eggs

Curried porridge, (aka dalia khichdi) was well made. The garnish of peanuts and edible flowers did add some sophistication to this homely meal.

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Curried Porridge

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.

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Giving us company through this whole tirade of food were two innocuous looking dishes Рthe 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.

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3 Hummus Pita
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Trio of Chips and Salsa

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!

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Shephard’s Bowl Poutine

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.

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Chettinad Prawns
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Grilled Tiger Prawns

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.

Tiramisu Eclairs
Tiramisu Eclairs

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.

212 All Day Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato