Tag Archives: Pune

Pleasing my Palate in Pune

My foodie trails take me to several places and recently I found myself at Double Tree by Hilton, Pune, a hotel located in Pimpri-Chinchwad away from the hustle-bustle and yet, with all basic necessities a stone’s throw away.

The gourmand in me beamed with pleasure as a large, warm, chocolate chip cookie was handed over to me at the time of check-in. That is a Hilton tradition. The warm cookie was comforting after my journey and simply melt-in-my-mouth.

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3 Spices, the vibrant all-day dining place at the lobby level impressed me. It exudes an air of bonhomie and comfort. The cheerful and warm staff settled us in and we looked around the buffet spread for lunch. There was no run-of-the-mill stuff here. Food from around the world – Indian, Pan Asian, Global- something for every palate.  And attractively displayed. The bar at the entrance is well-stocked and the bartenders adeptly mix cocktails of your choice.

There was a live chaat counter too. Just perfect for this weather to perk up my taste buds.

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The roasted chicken with rosemary jus, the mangshor jhol or quintessential Bengali mutton curry with birasta pulao, struck me as outstanding. The bhakris, chicken in khada masala and stuffed okra that chef specially made for us to give us a taste of the local flavours took my taste buds by storm. The flavours were distinct and no where did spices overpower the ingredients.

The Pan Asian fare was equally well-made sans any additives and preservatives.

The a la carte menu here is exhaustive and boasts of everything from curry laksa and classic caesar salad to penne pasta genovese and chicken tikka pizza. The 6 seeti ka mutton and Kerala Pomfrt curry from the regional specialities are a must-try.

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The desserts were equally unusual. The beetroot halwa, Um ali- the Egyptian bread pudding, caught my fancy and both of them surpassed my expectations. The creamy texture of both desserts wowed my palate.

The varied fare at this buffet with unusual delicacies, certainly sets it apart from many others.

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Although for dinner, 3 Spices had an Awadhi food promotion, which looked immensely tempting, I decided to skip it as Miyuki, the small and cosy Japanese restaurant behind 3 Spices, beckoned me. Chef Nirmal’s work at the Teppanyaki griddle, mesmerised me as he treated us to an exotic meal complete with salads, sushi, sashimi, fried rice with chicken teriyaki and of course dessert. The flavours were simple and subtle, in keeping with Japanese cuisine and the ingredients fresh. The Sashimi particularly stood out for me in the entire meal.

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The service staff at all the F& B outlets is impeccable. Well-trained, courteous and most importantly well-informed.

My breakfast next morning was an enjoyable experience again. The live counters with eggs and waffles were fun to watch as chefs adroitly dished out waffles and eggs for diners a la minute. The ‘Kadak chai’ tapri or stall served piping hot masala tea, in keeping with the culture of Pune.

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Cereals, Pan Asian dishes, fruits, South Indian fare, bakery items. There truly was a lot to choose from. The array of fresh juices- mixed, watermelon, orange, carrot and ginger in glass bottles impressed me beyond words.

Chef Joy who is at the helm and his team of talented chefs ensure that the F&B offerings are unique and monotony never sets in for a long staying guest. They constantly endeavour to create new dining experiences for guests.  The attentive and affable waiting staff executes this to perfection and together, they contribute to a memorable dining experience for the guest.

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Tarta, the tiny and attractive bakery and patisserie in the lobby is hard-to-miss. Fresh breads, pastries and cakes galore, are on display and irresistible.

I have stayed at many hotels in India and abroad, but the F&B offerings here at Double Tree by Hilton Pune, Chinchwad are something I will long cherish and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

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Click, Order, Enjoy !

Convenience is key nowadays, and I love it when I can order things I need online, at the click of a button or from apps downloaded on my phone.

In the past week, with the heavy downpour in Mumbai, Gourmet Delight and Ananya Banerjee’s website

www. Gourmetdelight.in  is a food lover’s delight. Literally. It is a premier online organic food store and gourmet shop in Mumbai and Pune, India. Great ingredients and good quality stuff is what you can be assured of, from them.

Their range is varied -gourmet chocolates, homemade artisanal cakes, exquisite cheese, teas, spices, to healthy organic super foods such as flax seeds, buckwheat, kale and quinoa. What appeals to me is that each of the products you find here is sourced from renowned national and international brands, as well as reliable local Indian producers.

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I tried the Namjai Thai curry paste, elephant noodles laksa paste, Indian Basa  and Kara coconut milk. Need I say, my kitchen was replete with fragrant Thai food and the aromas filled the air, as I prepared an authentic meal, so easily and quickly. The right products, obviously make all the difference.

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Craving for something Bengali, lead me to Ananya Banerjee, the multi-faceted, talented lady’s website http://www.ananyabanerjee.com

I opted for her prawns kasundi, a typical mustard based tangy sauce or paste, from Bengal and yes, it had a twist – prawns integrated in it, along with shilebata chicken, a stone ground rustic chicken paste.

The kasundi was unique, as it was made with raw mangoes, with the addition of succulent prawns.  Unlike the usual Kasundi, I am used to, this  one, was an innovative relish. One can safely pair this with rice. I loved the fact that is absolutely organic and also without any preservatives or vinegar.

 

The chicken shile bata too was robust and spicy bursting with flavours and yes, I loved the aroma of my comforting mustard oil. Made me so nostalgic.

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Both the products were home style and that’s what I look for.

Of course her website offers a plethora of options, so got to log in again soon.

So, if you are stuck because of rains, do not fret, there are plenty of choices available from the comfort of your home or even your smart phone. Technology zindabaad!

 

 

 

 

Eccellente pasto!Italian food at its best!

I can keep waxing eloquent about Italian cuisine, one of my favourite global cuisines. Across India, there are a few places that serve really good Italian fare, but La Terrazza at Hyatt Regency Pune, bowled me over completely.

The decor and ambience beckons you immediately. The place exudes warmth in abundance. We were seated on a corner table with a nice view.

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The set menu for lunch seemed fairly exhaustive. And given the options, it was value for money too. Salad, soup, Pasta/pizza and a veg or non veg main course and of course dessert. An extremely generous menu, I thought this was.

Our Mushroom broth with porcini mushroom and chicken arrived. Aesthetically served. Piping hot, just the way I love it. And the aroma of the mushrooms filled my nostrils. Comforted me, instantly. A few sips and I enjoyed the well-balanced flavourful soup thoroughly.

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My Mesclun salad (with olive, sundried tomato, parmesan shaving and balsamic dressing) was light and palate-tingling. Fresh and robust flavours oozed out of the high quality ingredients. Full marks here too.

Our potato gnocchi with AOP(aglio olio e pepperoncino) sauce and liberal amount of chicken was delightful. The chef recommended the sauce and we loved it. It complimented the creamy potato gnocchi. An artful pairing this was.

Not  a single dish was heavy and made us experience discomfort. Each morsel was being relished by us. The staff was attentive and the service warm and unobtrusive.

The grilled chicken with creamy polenta was the perfect choice. Succulent breast of chicken, grilled to perfection yet moist, was the apt match for the creamy, coarse polenta. The portions struck me as generous.

The meal had proved to be a memorable one but even though I was satiated with the vast flavours and textures I had experienced, I could not say no to the Tiramisu, my all time favourite dessert. And this one was worth trying. Soft, creamy, wit the right hint of rum and mascarpone cheese, it just melt in our mouths. This was truly a grand finale to a lip-smacking meal.

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This three course lunch at Rs 675 plus taxes is a steal. Any lover of Italian food should not miss this opportunity to gorge on choicest Italian delicacies for this price. And throw in a glass of red or white wine and pay only Rs 100 extra. Incredible!

Office goers too can partake this delectable filling lunch in the afternoons, away for a short break from work. I wish I lived in Pune!

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

 

Convenient Online Food Service: TastyKhana.com

The frenetic pace of life in Mumbai always makes us seek short cuts. Of convenience, I mean. So when I learnt about Tastykhana, where you can order your food online and choose from a plethora of restaurants according to the cuisine you want, I was excited beyond words.

Shachin Bharadwaj’s brainchild, TastyKhana, is an online food service giving users the convenience of choosing a restaurant in their area and selecting their preferred meal items by browsing through the menus on the TastyKhana website and placing the order online for delivery to the desired location. The orders can be paid for through cash on delivery or through online payments or by accumulating the online Trinket account, the virtual wallet that is created for every customer for their payment convenience. The service is accessible through web, tablet or mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry.

Shachin Bharadwaj,CEO, www.tastykhana.com

It first started its operation in Pune, by Pune based computer engineer Shachin Bharadwaj and his software engineer friend and colleague Sheldon D’souza.. In November 2011 TastyKhana signed a partnership with Delivery Hero. This partnership lead to expansions in TastyKhana operations in  Mumbai in April 2012, Bangalore in September 2012, Delhi in January 2013, Gurgaon in February 2013 and Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad in May/June 2013.

I enjoyed myself navigating through the website and going though menus of several restaurants. While the variety is sufficient, perhaps one can do with a few more. Bigger names maybe? I zeroed in on Indian cuisine and settled for Moti Mahal.

Shachin told me that they have catered to 200,000+ customers, which I thought was phenomenal.

I placed my order with ease and immediately received a mail on my registered id. Closer to the delivery time, I received an email confirmation and a polite call from TastyKhana, assuring me that my order would be executed on time. And on time it was. 8.25 pm my doorbell rang and my dinner from Moti Mahal had arrived.

The entire experience was convenience personified. Convenience of – choice, online payment, 24/7 ordering, advance orders, access to the entire menu to plan your meal, filtering and sorting options to identify restaurants as per your preference, avoiding typical phone ordering problems (engaged lines, unresponsive customer care, etc).

What’s more, one’s mind is at rest as one is assured of the quality of service. “Our orders are backed by our True Kare guarantees, wherein we are responsible for all your problems and you don’t have to run after restaurants for any issues,” Shachin declared with justifiable pride.

It was followed by a personal call next day to find out about my first time experience. TastyKhana is a real boon to us busy people in Mumbai. Can’t wait to order my next meal! You too could log onto TastyKhana.com and sit back and relax.

More, More…..at MoMoCafe

I have visited and dined at several MoMo Cafes at Courtyard by Marriott Hotels across India, but somehow my recent experience at the one at Chakan Pune was exceptional.

The warmth in the cafe was not merely owing to the bright sunrays and light permeating from the glass windows. It was the staff and the service that made all the difference.

The breakfast buffet was a sumptuous spread. Eggs to order from a live counter, waffles, Asian delicacies, Lip-smacking South Indian fare and of course cold cuts, baked beans, an array of breads et al. Lunch too was a lavish affair as was dinner.

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The freshness of the ingredients was laudable as I relished each morsel we ate here.  The dishes were simple, mostly classic ones but cooked to perfection. No artificial flavours or preservatives at all. The diversity of the fare which is a blend of global food and regional delicacies, is the highlight.

The chefs clearly have an eye for detail, as the presentation of the dishes is outstanding.

The desserts were easily the wow factor. Chef Jitendra was truly creative. His melt in the mouth caramel custard was beyond my expectations. A simple dessert but speaks volumes for a good chef. The real test to my mind and he passed it with flying colours. He was innovative too. The star anise flavoured chocolate mousse was unique and flavourful. The spice had been cleverly and subtly used. The bite-size fresh fruit tarts were a treat for the eye and palate. Equally delicious were the Indian sweets prepared by a Maharaj. Authenticity of these sweets, was what struck me as inimitable. Jalebis, gajar halwa, mango phirnee. Each tasted better than the other.

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The team of chefs under the leadership of Executive Chef Girish Kumar are truly exceptional. The flavours, textures, presentation and taste of the food is unparalleled.

Noticing my reluctance to eat a full-fledged dinner, Chef Anurag went out of his way to send me some light and fluffy chicken steamed momos. A sweet and thoughtful gesture, I will never forget.

So even if you are not staying at Courtyard by Marriott Chakan, Pune, make sure you stop by for a meal the next time you are heading to Pune. Trust me, you will end up staying here.

At MoMo Cafe yeh dil maange more!