Souk by Cafe Arabia – Mediterranean Flavours

Souk by Cafe Arabia

Cafe Arabia is known for their multiple QSR counters in malls across Pune. They are known for dishing out some of the best Lebanese cuisine in the city. Souk is Cafe Arabia’s first standalone dine in restaurant, taking the Cafe Arabia legacy to the next level.

Salad Bowls

The Grilled Chicken Greek Salad

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Grilled chicken, feta cheese, oregano and fresh veggies makes this a lovely summer salad. The freshness and crunch of the veggies, creamy feta cheese and the oregano based dressing go perfectly with the perfectly grilled chicken.

Souk Fries

souk baconbaba souk fries
Souk Fries

Crunchy french fries dusted with sumac powder – the sumac gives it a lovely Mediterranean touch adding a bit of spice to the golden fried fries. That being said, the garlic dip didn’t go too well with the fries though – I would love to have these with some ketchup instead!

Lebanese Platters

Hummus Platter with Pita Bread

Hummus Platter with Pita Bread souk baconbaba
Hummus Platter with Pita Bread

Cafe Arabia is known for their hummus. This platter adds a dimension, serving four avatars of the delicious creamy hummus –  original, basil pesto, jalapeno & harissa and beetroot. The pita bread is coated with za’atar dressing, and that did over-power the delicate flavor of the hummus. Be sure to ask for only a light coating of za’atar next time around.

Falafel Platter

souk baconbaba falafel platter
Falafel Platter

Falafels (chick pea balls, deep-fried) topped with a bit of garlic yogurt and olives, served with a garlic dip. Beautifully cooked, tasted delicious.

Kababs

Harrissa Chicken Skewers

souk baconbaba harissa chicken skewers
Harissa Chicken Skewers

These looked delicious, but were a bit of a let down. The harissa gave it an overall spicy heat, but these were under-seasoned. A dash of salt helped make it more palatable.

Skewered Mushrooms

souk baconbaba skewered mushrooms
Skewered Mushrooms

The best part about this dish was the fact that it was very lightly spiced, allowing the natural flavor of mushrooms to shine through. The gentle char on the top really added a beautiful dimension to the flavor and mouthfeel of the dish

Chicken Black Pepper

souk baconbaba black pepper chicken
Chicken Black Pepper

A take on the more popular malai tikka, these were rich and creamy. Would have helped if the black pepper flakes were not as massive.

Flatbreads

Peppy Paneer and Pesto Mushroom – Half ‘n Half

souk baconbaba peppy paneer pesto mushroom flatbread
Peppy Paneer and Pesto Mushroom Flatbread

The paneer was delicious. Pepper, oregano, red bell pepper and grilled paneer – this had the makings of a delicious ‘desi’ pizza. The pesto mushroom didn’t work for me personally – the pesto didn’t work with the mushrooms, leading to a confused palate.

Spiced Minced Lamb

souk baconbaba spiced minced lamb flatbread
Spiced Minced Lamb Flatbread

An absolutely gorgeous looking plate of food, this was the highlight of the meal. Lightly spiced minced lamb blended beautifully with the cheese and tomato sauce, leaving us going ‘yummm’ with every bite. The fried egg on top was like a ray of sunshine, taking this spectacular plate of food to another level.

Chicken Shawarma

souk baconbaba chicken shawarma
Chicken Shawarma

Cafe Arabia is famous for its shawarma. This one, however, was not up to the mark. Over stuffed with the garlic sauce, and the lack of crunch lead it to be totally unbalanced. The pita bread too wasn’t toasted enough, leading to a very ‘meh’ mouth feel.

Shakes

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake

souk baconbaba peanut butter and jelly shake
Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake

If you like peanut butter, you will LOVE this!

Chocolate Mint Shake

souk baconbaba after 8 shake mint chocolate
After 8 – Mint Chocolate Shake

I, personally, am not a fan of mint chocolate. That being said, this ticked all the boxes for a  good chocolate mint shake.

Desserts

Baklava with Ice Cream

souk baconbaba baklava ice cream
Baklava with Ice Cream

I have been a fan of the baklava made by Cafe Arabia. The pastry is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and is rich with the flavors of honey, cinnamon and nuts. This one is a slight variation of the one they serve at their outlets, shaped like a cup to hold the ice cream. Its good, but felt a bit dense at the inside base of the cup. I prefer the one they serve at the outlet.

souk baconbaba baklava ice cream
Baklava with Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate Tart with Mediterranean Sea Salt

souk baconbaba Dark Chocolate Tart with Mediterranean Sea Salt
Dark Chocolate Tart with Mediterranean Sea Salt

An absolute masterpiece of a dessert, this one is to DIE for! The tart is beautifully crumbly, and the dark chocolate filling is so gooey, it should be a crime! With just the right amount of bitterness creeping through, it makes this such an amazing dessert.

However, the coup de grâce was the sprinkling of the sea salt. That salt cuts through the chocolate like a hot knife through butter, leaving you salivating for more!

Sinful, decadent, major win!

souk baconbaba Dark Chocolate Tart with Mediterranean Sea Salt
Dark Chocolate Tart with Mediterranean Sea Salt

Overall, a great place to chill if you are in the NIBM area. Great stuff!


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


SOUK by Cafe Arabia 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!

baconbaba bubsterrs classic pork
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.

baconbaba bubsterrs bbq pork burger
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.

baconbaba bubsterrs porky lucy
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

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

orion baner baconbaba mushroom

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

orion baner baconbaba pumpkin soup

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

orion baner baconbaba shorba

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

orion baner baconbaba garlic bread

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

orion baner baconbaba kabab

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

orion baner baconbaba Sikpuri

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

orion baner baconbaba bangkok

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

orion baner baconbaba bbq

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

Black Lasagne

orion baner baconbaba black lasagna

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

orion baner baconbaba mezze

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

orion baner baconbaba chocolate cigar

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

orion baner baconbaba liit

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

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.
hoppipola baconbaba thebteam grouphoppipola baconbaba thebteam clocks hoppipola baconbaba thebteam menu

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

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam sangria
Sangria

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

Starters

The Mezze Platter

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam mezze
Mezze Platter

Mezze Platter

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

Cheesy Nachos

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam nacho
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

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam chicken cutlets
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 🙂

Cajun Rubbed Grilled Fish

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam fish
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

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam paneer pita
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

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam chicken wings
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

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam chicken pizza
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.

hoppipola baconbaba thebteam pannacota
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.

sarjaa aundh baconbaba entrance

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 – a form of chicken tandoori coated with Thecha – a 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 – the 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 🙂

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 – 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.

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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

Mercure, Lavasa – The perfect Stay-cation!

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.

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At the hotel

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

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The view from Celebrations

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

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The Reception
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The Rooms

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!

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Mongolian Fish
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Mongolian Fish

Pihu, being a complete prawns fan, gobbled down the Golden Fried Prawns. Fresh prawns, crisp tempura batter, we asked for seconds of this dish.

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Golden Fried Prawns
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Golden Fried Prawns

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.

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Lamb Nihari
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Lamb Nihari

We also tried the samosa chaat and the chicken salad (as part of the monsoon tasting menu).

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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!

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Chef Special  Sundae

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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.

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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!

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The kids playpen

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.


Celebration - Mercure Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kadar Khan’s Sheesha – The Dal Bukhara comes to Pune

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.

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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.

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Dal Bukhara

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.

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Chicken Tangdi Kulfi

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.

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Mutton Sheekh Kabab

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.

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Mutton Rogan Josh

For desserts, do give the Lahsoon ki Kheer a try. The mild flavor of garlic is an interesting twist on this classic dessert

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Lahsoon Ki Kheer

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.


Kadar Khan's Sheesha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taste of South India – Courtyard by Marriott, Chakan

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.

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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 🙂

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Starters

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.

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Vegetable Stew and Appam

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.

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Pepper Chicken

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.

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Chicken Rasam

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.

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Podi Idli

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.

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The Chai and Filter Coffee Stall

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.

 

MoMo Cafe - Courtyard By Marriott Pune Chakan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barbeque Ville – Barbecue on a Budget!

Barbeque Ville opened their doors at Kaspate Vasti, Wakad on Valentine’s Day. In just 1 week, they have managed to capture the imagination of food lovers in the area.

Location: Kaspate Vasti, Wakad, Near Hotel Ambiance Excellency (Google maps)

#baconbaba was invited for an exclusive tasting last night, and the sight of a jam-packed restaurant on a Wednesday evening was testament to the fact that BV has tasted early success.

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Barbeque Ville, in their words, is a ‘Grille-on-table’ restaurant. We have a few other examples of these restaurants, where you have a coal-pit on your table, with meats brought on skewers and grilled right there. What sets them apart, is the competitive pricing – the Non-Veg buffet costs a very reasonable 550/- INR! This includes all taxes, service tax, VAT etc.

The decor follows more or less the same ‘template’ as other similar barbecue restaurants. Large open space, grills on the tables, bright lighting, and excellent service. At this price point, this place is perfect for corporate parties and team outings – it should fot most corporate team budgets.

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The grilled section includes Chicken, Fish (basa), Prawns, Mushroom, Paneer and my ‘guilty pleasure’, skewered Pineapple 🙂 All the grilled items were delicious, my favorite being the basa fish. Crisp on the outside, soft inside – perfectly cooked.

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On the downside, I found the prawns slightly overcooked. Also, apart from the green chutney, the dips served along with these didn’t really go with the Indian flavored barbecue meats. I wish they had included a couple of more Indian style chutneys to compliment the kababs.

The Maratha Tangdi is a rather innovative way to serve the Tangdi kababs. The chicken legs are served, skewered across a sword! Juicy, beautifully coated with mild spices, perfectly grilled.

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Maratha Tangdi
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Maratha Tangdi

They also have a chat ‘thela’ serving pani-puri, dahipuri, sev puri, bhel and spdp. Once specialty is the Pineapple puri – pani-puri with pineapple juice inside. I personally found it way too sweet.

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Pani-Puri
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Pineapple Pani-Puri

The starters also included a Chicken or Veg sizzler. I didn’t really care too much for this as the chicken just missed the ‘sizzle’. It was more of a pan tossed chicken starter thrown onto a leaf of lettuce on a sizzler plate. The steamed veggies served along-side were delicious though!

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Chicken Sizzler

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By the time we were done with the starters, we were almost full! However, we moved on to the mains. And I was captivated.

The Mutton Paya Shorba was quite tasty – lightly flavored mutton stock, with a nice spice hit – exactly how a shorba should taste! The Malwani Fish curry and the Chicken Kadai – overflowing with pieces of fish and chicken respectively and the mutton Rogan Josh with bien cuit chunks of mutton went perfectly with the soft naans.

But the magnum opus of this gastronomic symphony was the Mustard Crabs. Aaah, the mustard gravy – exactly like a bengali ‘shorshe-bata’ curry. The mild spice hit of the ground mustard sauce along with the generous amounts of crab was just sublime.

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Mustard Crab

The mains also had Barista Pulao, Steamed Rice, Veg Mushroom Noodles, Salads, Dal Rajma, Dal Palak, Thai Yellow Curry, Aloo Lasooni, Paneer Badashahi, Veg Makhani and Veg Garlic Soup

The Aloo Lasooni and the Dal Rajma were my personal picks among the veg items

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Aloo Lasooni

By this time, we had almost no space for desserts! But I simply cannot pass up a gulab jamun or caramel custard. Ended having 2 of each, and bits of the other desserts.

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Overall, Barbeque Ville provides an excellent dining experience, at almost half the rate of other more ‘established’ chains. To serve such good quality sea food at these prices is what gives this restaurant a super-duper-double-decker high-five! Definitely a must visit if you are in this part of town!


I was invited to try the buffet. While the buffet I was treated was the same as that provided to the general public, The Usual Disclaimer applies. 


#baconbaba super khush hua!!!

Barbeque Ville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aur Irani Chai – West Pune meets Iran!

Aur Irani Chai, Aundh

Irani chai is ubiquitous with old pune. Vohuman, Good Luck, Kohinoor, Diamond are some of the classic age-old Irani chai joints. This was something the residents of Baner, Balewadi, Aundh, Wakad, PS etc. were sorely missing. Aur Irani Chai does well to fill up that gaping hole.

Nestled away in a corner across Nagras Road, near Rahul Restaurant, Aundh (click here for G-Maps), Aur Irani Chai is a cozy little joint with brick walls and stone tables. Shaded by trees around the perimeter, they do a surprisingly good job at isolating the noise from the very busy junction just outside. Apart from the huge menu board, its a very chilled out atmosphere.

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Irani Chai and Bun-Maska: An obvious start to any meal at an Irani Cafe. A typical Irani chai – light, sweet and milky. Super soft bun. Gloriously lathered with butter. I was dipping the bun-maska into the chai, and had the time of my life. My chai-loving wife ended up drinking 3 cups!

PS: The bun-maska found on the streets of Vadodara or Ahmedabad are far more generous in terms of the maska. But then that’s Gujarat!

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Bun Maska

Bread Butter: 2 slices of bread, generously buttered. What more can you expect?

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Bread Butter

Bun Cheese Omlette: You can’t go to an Irani Cafe and not have the Omlette! Oodles of cheese trickling out! Super soft bun, lots of butter, loads of melted cheese.

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Bun Cheese Omlette

Kheema Pav: The pièce de résistance. Light, flavorful, perfectly cooked mutton kheema. Not overloaded with spice or oil. Absolutely perfect for breakfast (or any meal!)

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Overall, I love this place! Nice ambiance, good service, and excellent food. The trifecta of a great restaurant. Oh, and to top it off, entirely budget friendly. The entire meal cost us less than 300/- bucks!

Definitely a place I am going to be visiting again and again.

#baconbaba khush hua!!!

Aur Irani Chai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato