Dimsums Lunch | BaanTao‬, Hyatt Pune

28 Oct

Baan Tao, Pune

Baan Tao, Pune

Friday was the husband’s birthday and we were looking to have a peaceful lunch while the kiddo was in school. We both love dimsums, and a peek at zomato showed that the dimsums lunch at Baan Tao was back. A quick reservation and we were urged by the Hyatt management that we keep aside some time to have lunch at leisure as the dimsum special lunch is an experience by itself. So we went, with a couple of hours to spare.

When we first reached the restaurant at 1.30, there was no one else. So it was very peaceful and quiet especially with the sound of the waterfall in the background, we (almost) forgot that we were in Pune. Our server explained to us the concept – soups, salad, dimsums (!), main course (noodle/rice bowl) and desserts. We began with a salad amuse bouche of lettuce, carrots, radish with a sweetish honey peanut dressing and tempura crumb as a topping. While for an amuse bouche it was a large portion, the dressing and the tempura made it delightful.

Next came the chicken laksa and chicken wanton soup. The wanton soup was a flavourful clear broth with steamed vegetables and wantons. Clean flavors and just the kind of comfort one expects from a wanton soup. The chicken laksa has me bowled over – I am thrilled to announce that I finally found that perfect bowl of laksa that I had been looking for in Pune. Not too creamy, not too spicy – just right with a generous amount of vegetables, chicken and noodles and of course the lime, egg and spring onion garnish. I am just waiting for the next opportunity to go there only to have the laksa.
Then they served us prawn dimsums – and we were transported to the south east. Translucent wrapping and a single large prawn in each dimsum wrapped tortellini style. Perfect!
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Next came the chicken wings – these were more chindian and though delicious not really matching the standards of the dimsums. Just as we were finishing these, the server got us stacks of dimsum steamers – the pork dimsum, chicken gyoza, chicken suimai, the bao (steamed bun) and some vegetarian dimsums. There also was another pumpkin and delicate tofu starter which we didn’t try as we were more than enamoured with the dimsums.
The stars of the day were the pork, prawn and chicken gyoza. Fantastic! We ordered another portion of all the three and asked them to not bring any of the veg dishes! Let me tell you here, that not even a single time were we hurried nor did we have to even lift a finger, the service was very attentive but unobtrusive – full marks for that. The steamed bun – bao was passable, nothing great. I wish it had a meat mince filling inside.

Here’s the funny part – eating just the soup and dimsums (we did eat a whole lot of them), we were so full that we didn’t order any of the main course. Wish there was some expandable appetite option! Sigh! I ended the meal with one pork and one chicken gyoza dimsum. While my husband ordered the mango coconut pudding which he liked but I didn’t coz I have a pet peeve against the bitter after taste which canned mango pulp gives.

All in all, this meal comes highly recommended. Please go while the offer lasts, it is way beyond the amount they charge for it. The dimsum meal is 850+ taxes per head.

Oktoberfest | Effingut brewerkz

18 Oct

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For the longest time I was a big fan of the mustard prawns at Effingut Brewerkz, KP. But now I have a new mega favorite, the mini meatloaf with the mustard glaze on the oktoberfest special menu. It would be unfair to call it good, or delicious. It was the best meatloaf I have had in the longest time. I ll be honest here, when I first saw the menu, I was not blown away with it. I thought ok, from this I guess I would like to eat the hotdog and the mustard chicken. But when I tried that food.. OMG! No kidding.. you want german food which has been made suitable to our palate without compromising much on how it really should be? head to effingut, now! because there’s only four more days left to this culinary delight and I am kicking myself for not having gone there earlier. I also had the most amazing hotdog with german style curry- piquant and elevating the caramelized onions to such heights that the sausage was made irrelevant. You think I am overdoing the praise? No way. I could have easily had that hotdog without the sausage (the sausage was a little meh anyway!). They also had a whole lot of other difficult to pronounce but delicious to eat food of which the smoked ham toasts and the chicken mince balls were the stars and yes, the creamy spinach toast without overdoing the cream was very less is more too!

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The chicken doner did not need the sour cream on top as the chicken and the coleslaw were stellar on their own. And yes for the fans of nouvelle cuisine- there also was a deconstructed pie- pie filling in a tangy creamy sauce and puff pastry circle on top/bottom however you reconstruct it on your plate. It reminded me of the joy of a chicken pot pie that I make at home. The apple strudel was good but the savories are far better.

And yes the new beers are very good too.. but for once, I was just way too enraptured by the food.

Go there now! Thank me later!

Sugran’s Kolhapuri, Sadashiv Peth | A kolhapuri homestyle meat fest

12 Sep

Sugran’s kolhapuri, sadashiv peth, shedge wadi, Pune.

Three hours of walking, exploring, shopping later we were tired and famished. We needed a place where we could sit down in peace and have a wholesome meal. Punjabi/dosas/matar karanjis were not going to do, so the multitude snack homes in the area were not an option. Luckily I remembered having read about sugrans nonveg and a quick search on zomato for the address and a phone call to confirm that it is open, we were set. Funnily we walked past the restaurant twice as all the signages were covered with the ganapati mandaps. The third time the owner called out, are you looking for sugrans? 😀 Yes, yes! And we entered a hidden alfresco (covered) area at the back of the front mess style restaurant.

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Shaded, cool, reasonably clean ; the menu claimed ‘kolhapuri is not just spicy, its a unique taste’ – and I knew we were in for a treat. We ordered one sugrans chicken masala loncha thali, one mutton kheema masala and one shev bhaaji accompanied with polis. The thali comprised of a uniquely spiced chicken curry (drumstick) which was quite close to the chettinad chicken curries I have had (minus the curry leaves), chicken loncha which was not super hot but beautifully spiced and very fresh, egg curry (home style good), chicken kheema, tambda and pandhra rassa and polis. This was a veritable chicken fest, and was too much to finish for a person with a big appetite too. The food was not ‘crazy tikhat (hot)’ and the preparation was very typical to kolhapuri food found in assal kolhapur.

The mutton kheema was amazing! After a long time I was eating a beautifully rendered kheema which was not acidity causing or too hot to handle the heat – just perfect. The hot ghadichi poli was ‘apratim’, so soft and straight off the tawa.

The shev bhaaji lacked the depth of spices but still was a good dish for vegetarians. But this place is definitely more for meat eaters than vegetarians as the food options were quite few. All food came with tambda and pandhra rassa which again was just right to balance the masala in the food. The pandhra rassa especially helped clear my blocked sinus! Service – unobtrusive, attentive, quick.
All this food plus four soft drinks cost us Rs. 780.

Next time you are in the peth area you need not stick to the vegetarian fare, there’s more than enough non-veg on offer at sugrans – go eat your fill.

Sweet Boutique By Aditi | Home baker | Cake Review

7 Sep

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After a really long time I was feeling like selfishly not writing this post. Why? Because like one guards a favourite recipe, I was thinking if I make this public then soon this little secret will be known by every one and the person responsible will become too busy to take small orders like mine. But then again, I could not resist flaunting this fabulous cake, which was made by Aditi for my dad’s 60th birthday.

So I contacted Aditi seeing her work on her Facebook page, because hers seemed like real cakes, especially the cupcakes seemed very similar to what I bake. Those who know me can vouch for the fact that I am very annoyingly finicky about desserts. I just cannot tolerate ready mix sponges masquerading as cakes because to me a real cake is one which is made from scratch, and where the cake – tastes like cake and not some ridiculous soaked sponge lost in tons of cream. When I first spoke to Aditi about my cake requirement – a 4 kg eggless vanilla cake, with vanilla frosting and butterscotch filling, I literally ate her head to ensure that it was made from scratch. And still I was on tenterhooks till the time I had actually tasted the cake at the event. Was I glad I asked her to bake! After a very long time, I was tempted to have two servings of a frosted cake. It was very very good, made with best possible ingredients and not mega soaked in syrup still soft, soft like a good cake should be.

The design was based on the pictures I had sent her and on her suggestion I went for a two tiered cake, which added to the wow factor. Thank you for suggesting that Aditi! The fondant toppers were kept to the minimum and this cake was 4 kg cake plus frosting as this much cake was enough for two servings (or more) each for 85 people. Her parents very kindly delivered the cake to the venue and it arrived at the requested time.

Will I be ordering again? Oh yes! She is my official large event baker from now on. All the very best to you Aditi. Keep up the good work! And people, this is the baker you want to get your cakes from.

Here’s the link to her facebook page : Sweet Boutique By Aditi in case you want to place an order. 🙂

Minus 18 degrees, Baner | Cafe Review

17 Aug

En route to bavdhan on 15th August, we went to MED for a brunch. We reached by 10.30 and the place was full, which was a good sign , but this time I was going to be cautious and not expect to be wowed – which was a good thing, because that is just what happened.

We were offered the shared table inside and we took it as it was not very pleasant outside. On seating, for quite a while we were not given a menu card or water or anything. Also, there was a crazy din happening in the place, akin to a kitty party happening in a cafe. A quick look around and I found that it was not the people but the staff who were constantly talking, chitchatting to each other which was the reason behind that noise.

After a while when we were handed over the pretty menu (full marks for that, best menu design/styling in town), we ordered – one cappuccino, orange mojito, one 3 egg country style omelette, waffles, Mac and cheese, cheesy garlic bread and red velvet cake.
The cappuccino was standard affair, while the orange mojito was good, refreshing. The waffles were nicely crisp but had a bitter aftertaste. The cheesy garlic bread was just too dry, the cheese was only on top and the sliced loaf was not buttered enough on the inside and had chopped garlic scattered in. Quite sad!

The omelette was good, the bell pepper and mushroom filling inside was good too- albeit it didn’t have any cheese sauce inside unlike what was described on the menu, just some cheese and peppers and mushroom. The hash brown on top of the omelette was soggy and the toast was a quick job on a very hot grill, which gave it the pretty grill markings but didn’t toast it enough. There was also a dollop of butter on the side which was really necessary and welcome.

The Mac and cheese was tiny elbow pasta in a cheese sauce laced with paprika and most shockingly – bread crumbs scattered in top, garnish! No, the bread crumbs are not shocking – a good Mac and cheese is a baked dish (that’s the description thankfully) topped with panko. But this was very far from a ‘classic’ Mac and cheese. For starters, it was not baked, at all. 😦

Finally, red velvet cake. This I was expecting to be good. I really did think that finally I will find a red velvet cake with real cream cheese frosting. But the one here was a red velvet lacking the gumption to carry enough tart of the cream cheese. So this was again mostly cream, barely a hint of cream cheese and red sponge soaked in syrup.

One of the biggest reasons why I will never go to MED again was the fact there were many many flies in the cafe. They probably had a power cut and so no aircon and the tiny windows behind the omelette station were open and many flies were buzzing around. Trying to eat a meal, ignoring the din in the cafe and waving off flies wanting to sit on your food is definitely not my idea of a meal out. And yes, on my way out of the cafe I also noticed fresh cupcakes having arrived at the baked goodies display and the cupcakes lying on top of the display counter, not covered!! Just not acceptable.

The Flying Saucer Sky Bar, Pune

26 Jun

Monday I was invited for a tasting at the Flying Saucer Sky Bar in Pune. This is a relatively new rooftop bar which has opened up in Vimannagar. The view from the top is breathtakingly stunning, one would want to spend the entire night there with the beautiful breeze and the city lights around. It being monsoons, the roof was covered but I was told that in other seasons it is open to the sky, lounging under the stars – I sure would love that!

I joined a couple of other bloggers and we were first served their cocktails. I opted for their classic long island iced tea which was well made (not overly sweet) but very potent. The host there also made some signature peachy cocktail with elderflower flavour which was very refreshing too. Along with the cocktails we had the vegetarian and non-vegetarian platters. Of the non-vegetarian platters, I really like the kalimiri tikkas and also the shaami kebab was well spiced although a tad dry. On the vegetarian platter, the dahi ke kebab was interesting but a little sour for my liking. Also, there was a spinach roll which was an elaborate starter. The rest of the tikkas seemed a little dry.

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Next came the BBQ chicken wings which would have made a decent accompaniment to beer. The salt and pepper prawns were a bit too salty, although the prawns were a good size and cooked right. For main course we had chicken chettinad a spicy chicken dish with assorted indian breads. The pindi chhole were too spicy for me so I couldnt sample it too much. The dal makhani needed a little seasoning and was reasonably good after that. The desserts had nice tarts and doughnuts. Overall, a beautiful ambience to hang out with friends and have a relaxed evening. The food had its hits and misses but it was a good attempt! The menu is vast and will leave spoilt for choice. A special mention for their choice of music- very good!

Whereelse cafe, Vimannagar

22 Jun

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A couple of days back we had a fiasco with trying to get food delivered home from whereelse cafe but their menu just wouldn’t go out of my mind. So today was the perfect excuse – a rainy Sunday, cook absconding and the fact that we were in Vimannagar around lunch time for work ; we landed there, whereelse? (Couldn’t resist the cheesy pun! 😉 )

This new eatery on the block promises an American diner kind of menu and ambience (quite fun and quirky). We loved the huge ceiling fan in the al fresco section and the spacious sofas and colourful chairs. The overall vibe was young, fun and relaxed. They had a special BOGO offer for father’s day on a choice of four mains but we were not able to avail of that coz the father was stuck on the goan boy pepperoni sandwich and the mother on the BBQ chicken, since Friday!

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So that’s what we ordered along with the buffalo chicken munchies (crumbed chicken strips, deep fried) and fresh lime soda for the 3 year old boy. And yes, we also ordered the beer chicken chowder (shared portion) which was just perfect with the rains outside. This chowder has just the right amount of beer flavour, enough pieces of chicken for a soup and the correct thickness, our dil went mmmmm… at that.

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Next came the goan boy sandwiches which had a robust smoky flavoured pepperoni. We both found the pepperoni to be less spicy and I thought the smoked flavour was bordering on bitter, but a big portion and good sandwich overall. I had to wait for my barbeque chicken and it turned up without the potato mash, which was promptly corrected. The barbeque chicken was good and it was a pleasure to see a non ketchupy BBQ sauce, over grilled chicken, some garlic bread, veggies and creamy delicious mashed potato. This dish was so good that my son abandoned the chicken crispy strips and attacked the grilled chicken. The buffalo chicken strips were a tad oily and also had a good amount of turmeric and some red chilli powder, not something you expect to see in an American dish. Not that great.

Despite having had so much food, the weather forced us to give in to the temptation of a hot cup of coffee and the boy had some cold coffee. The cold coffee was good and also had some chocolate sauce on the inside of the glass. The hot coffee was served in a huge mug (one coffee is enough for two, easily!). We sorely missed a cappuccino and on asking were told that their coffee machine has broken down and they will be getting another one soon.

For all of this food we paid Rs. 1100 (inclusive of 5% service charge and tax) which was quite value for money. I will definitely go there again to have that chowder and to sample their breakfast menu.

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