Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Plancha: Packs A Neat Punch!!

Plancha, located at East Street – Pune, is a new baby on the block. The interiors are simple yet charming. Plancha is the brain child of batch-mates who passed out from IHM, Goa. They invited Team #FoodProwl for a tasting and we were pleasantly surprised with all that they served us that afternoon.

We began the tasting with three drinks, Watermelon Mojito, Apple-grass Iced Tea and a non-alcoholic Malt Beer. While the mojito and iced tea were very refreshing what I liked best was the Malt Beer. 

At the onset of the meal they brought us Crème Dubarry soup. It was a cauliflower soup seasoned with curry powder and garnished with crisp strands of onions. Not for a second did the soup emanate that typical (read: urghhh) cauliflower smell. It was creamy, hearty and downright delish! This carnivore sets the rating for this vegetarian soup at an impressive 10/10.

Our starters were, Asian Inspired Wings, Loaded Nachos, Bhoona Mutton (Lamb Burger), Peri-peri Chicken Burger and Cheese Chili Toast. 

The wings were re-fried wings served with scallions, Sichuan pepper and topped with peanuts and sprouts. I, of course, ditched the sprouts and dived directly to the wings. *wicked grin* These succulent delights were tossed in delicious sauce and made for excellent finger food. 

The Loaded Nachos did not impress me much. They were good but I felt they could have been better; the toppings could have been more flavourful. 

The Bhoona Mutton for the burger was cooked to ‘medium rare’ doneness. Do I need to say anything more about it after having said the words ‘medium rare’? *Satiated soulful sigh* 

The Peri-peri Chicken Burger was another juicy baby. The peri-peri spice in the chicken patty can, ideally, be increased a wee bit but other than that, it was superb! Both burgers in terms of freshness of bread and overall juiciness would score a very high 9/10 on my burger meter. 

The Cheese Chili Toast was served as a sandwich which skewed the bread to cheese ratio making it too bread-y! Ideally, it would have been way better had they served it as an open sandwich. 

For mains we were served Hand-cut Tagliolini in pesto, Frutti di mare, Pomfret Recheado and Roast Chicken. The pesto and the tagliolini are made in-house. They use a combination of pine nuts and cashews for their pesto and the nutty flavours come through gorgeously. Those delicate strands of al dente pasta are tossed in classic pesto sauce and topped with shards of Parmesan. This simple dish had all the makings of a Masterchef dish! 

Next we tried the Frutti di mare. This was hand-cut pappardelle tossed in a pink sauce made with seafood bisque. Once again, the pasta was cooked perfectly and that pink sauce delicately enveloped the pasta and the plump prawns nestled beneath. 

The Pomfret Recheado was excellent; the fish was fresh and cooked perfectly and the recheado masala that coated the fish was yum. The only teeny-weeny drawback to this dish was the steamed rice served with it. The fish was a yummy, no-gravy pomfret hence the rice served with it was totally out of sync. Pan-grilled onion rings and fries would have been better accompaniments to this dish. 

The Roast Chicken with that silken mash, herbed butter, mushroom puree and jus was to die for! The portion size was generous and the flavours of the chicken and all the other elements on the plate complemented each other perfectly! 

Plancha also serves a dessert of the day but we weren’t lucky enough to try it that day. I’m guessing that’s a marvellous excuse to re-visit Plancha. 

The young chefs who envisioned Plancha know their food and know it well. They are the future of the culinary industry and everything we ate that afternoon revealed that if they persevere thus in the pursuit to serve good food, they would be forces to reckon with in the food industry.

A few words of advice for Team Plancha, if I may, please!

Chef Ajinkya / Team Planche, you guys know your food really well. The thing to do, now, is to ensure each dish is perfect every single time. Treat each dish that gets sent out from the kitchen, to the table of the patron, as if it were being sent out for a standing ovation. If Team Plancha can dish out a perfect plate of food every single time, I promise you shall have happy patrons who will return to your restaurant time and time again. 

Plancha has a wonderful brunch planned for Sunday, December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018. For more details please check out their Facebook page.

Address: 2407 East Street, Near Corporation Bank, Camp Pune 411001
Buzz: 020 30189716 / 09860580412

A few more photographs:


Monday, 18 December 2017

Stellar Food - Excellent Brews: What’s Not To Like At Malaka Spice?

Malaka Spice is my regular meet-up place. Over the years, I have visited the Koregaon Park branch umpteen times which is why I was eager to give their Baner branch a try. When I was extended an invite via Team #FoodProwl to visit their Baner branch for a tasting, this puppy was only too happy to oblige. ;)  

That afternoon, I opted for a simple Virgin Mojito but for all of you who love beer, Malaka Spice at Baner has a vibrant Tap Room. Though they do not have a brewery of their own, they bring in stellar brews from various breweries in Pune. The new Kimaya beer is also available there. I have to be honest; I am a teetotaler hence this reliable info comes to you from fellow foodies who enjoy beer.

Our meal began with Top Hat, the signature dish at Malaka Spice. It was perfectly done, as always! There are some dishes that I would term as 'a perfect mouthful' and this is one of them. 

Next, we were served Thai Mutton Chops. The meat was beautifully cooked and was juicy and delicious. A few of the chops though were too bony and could have done with a bit more meat on them.

I can find nothing to complain about the Pepper Fish with Garlic and the Lemony Salt & Pepper Prawns. Both were excellent. I did prefer the plump prawns but that is merely because I prefer crustaceans to fish. 

They also served us a Tangy Green Papaya Salad. I did not try it as I do not eat salads but I do trust the palates of those I dine with and everyone at the table enjoyed it.

Chicken Thigh Thai was the only dish that did not work for me. Firstly, they were drumsticks, not thighs. Secondly, the meat was overcooked and lacked seasoning and flavouring. It was merely a bland piece of fried chicken. This was the only dish of the afternoon that fell flat on its face. The chefs definitely need to work on this one.

For the mains we ate Malaka Kari Kapitan with Roti Canai. It’s a combination no one should ever miss at Malaka Spice. The curry is rich, creamy, coconut-y and the flaky Roti Canai is a (perfect) match made in the MS kitchen. 

The Labour Curry Chicken was nice but did not wow me. 

The Burnt Garlic Rice, though, was very flavourful, so much so, that it could be had by itself without any accompaniment. I loved the rice!

Our meal ended on a sweet note: Chocolate Brownie with Ice cream. Warm gooey brownie with crunchy walnut bits nestled within, spooned together with vanilla ice cream: how can a dessert so good ever go wrong?

Rarely, if ever, does Malaka Spice go awry with their food and this afternoon was no different. The chilled out atmosphere, the ever smiling servers and of course excellent food, all combine to make Malaka Spice what it is. Thank you Team Malaka for hosting us. Visiting your restaurant has always been a pleasure and with the love you guys put into your work, I’m sure that it’ll continue to be so. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Want To Try Some Awesome Dal Pakwan??

Mum has been associated with a Sindhi organization for nearly half a century hence the craving for Dal Pakwan set in a few days back. Mum has always had Dal Pakwan made by friends who are excellent cooks which is why she did not want to eat the commercially made stuff. It was time to find a home chef who cooked as well as her friends. I reached out to my foodie friends for recommendations. The name that popped out was Babita Kariya. I placed my order and, but of course, I did not merely call for Dal Pakwan, I ordered a few other things too.

My order was 4 Dal Pakwans (Rs 50 per plate), 2 extra Pakwans (Rs 12 each), 3 Onion Koki (Rs 15 per piece) and 3 Ghee Theplas (Rs 10 each).

Each plate of Dal Pakwan consisted of dal filled to the brim in a 250 ml container and 2 pakwans. I thought for the amount paid it was adequate. The dal was cooked as well as the home-cooked ones I’ve had before. The jeera and chili powder tadka was what I was searching for and I found that subtle tempering in each plate of dal! 

The pakwans were packed in pairs, in cling film and retained their freshness for two days. Yes, I munched on the extra pakwans the next day while watching a movie. The pakwans were fried but were not overly greasy. I had requested Babita to give me extra chutneys (garlic and meethi gur-imli). She did charge me extra for the extra chutneys and I was perfectly okay with that.

The Methi Theplas were very toothsome, as were the Onion Koki. I had Koki after years and I cannot begin to tell you how ‘mast’ it felt to have such a good one after so long. Both the items went on to be a fabulous accompaniment to our evening ‘choi’ (we Parsi’s say choi instead of chai).

The order was executed on time and in a very professional manner. I did have to travel to Salisbury Park to pick it up as Babita does not home deliver but the food was so darn delicious that I’d travel for it all over again! Yes, we definitely plan to reorder and also try out other dishes from her menu.

Babita, thank you ever so much for the excellent meal, more so because it made my parents very, very happy. Do retain the professionalism along with your friendliness, it’s a great combination. I truly look forward to ordering from you again. 

To order call Babita: +91 9604069580
Facebook page: Kiran's Foodie Paradise

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Dho Dala!

I was on the lookout for a home cleaning service.  I checked out a lot of companies and finally went with ‘Tidy Cleanerz Housekeeping and Deep Cleaning Services; who came highly recommended by a trustworthy friend.

I called the proprietor, Burzin Mistry, who came over and checked out the house. A day and time was fixed and voila! I was all set to have the house sparkling clean. On the stipulated day Burzin and his team came over but… not at the stipulated time. They came in 10 minutes early. The Bawi in me was so darn pleased as I hate to be kept waiting, then again, it was something I should have expected. After all, Burzin is a Bawa too. :) (No, this is not a 'Bawa to Bawa' community review because I can be a major pest if I'm unhappy with the work done)

At the onset of the meeting I had mentioned to Burzin that I did not want people all over the house, all at the same time; I had requested they clean one room at a time as I have elderly folk at home. I had also mentioned that I did not wish to be hassled for buckets, rags, soap, ladders etc as the reason I was giving out this cleaning contract was because I did not want hassles. They stuck to the brief given and it was a hassle free clean-up of the entire house. Not for a minute were mum or dad hassled while they worked. They were kind enough to help me put up new curtains and put up bathroom meshes to perfection; the Bawi kind of perfection. *sheepish grin*

The kitchen is one room I spend a lot of time in. The maids do keep it clean but to have it sparkling clean, I did need Burzin and his team. These days, I walk into my kitchen with a beaming grin. To see it sparkle is sheer joy! That is precise why I decided to post this review at my food blog. My kitchen is my place of joy and they got it gleaming. Surely, they deserve a place at my blog!

I’m hard to please. I’m finicky about how I want things done. I’m not perfect but I strive for perfection in all things which means I usually drive people like Burzin and his team up the eff’in wall, but the way the team performed that day was exceptionally good and this Bawi was one happy puppy! The kind of clean up I saw them do was so good that come March 2018 I begin an AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) to have my house ‘chamkao’d’ (cleaned :D ) every three months.

Would I recommend them to anyone?? In a jiffy! I’ve already recommended them to friends who want to have their homes deep cleaned and I believe, there too, they will do a stellar job!

Team Tidy Cleanerz, please do not change the professional approach and efficiency with which you work. That is precisely what sets you apart from other home cleaning/housekeeping services. Once again, Burzin Mistry and Team Tidy Cleanerz, heartfelt thanks for the work done and for tolerating my idiosyncrasies!

P.S: I wish I had taken a few photographs while the team worked at my home. May be I will when they come in next time… For now please make do with the visiting card photograph. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sara Soda – Bhari Jevan Ashile

I have been a regular patron of Marrakesh for quite a many years and when its owner Gaurav invited me to visit his new baby, Sara Soda, I happily accepted. We were greeted by Chef-Manager Dhanesh at the restaurant who informed us that they would be serving Goan fare that afternoon.

The restaurant is nicely done up in bright hues, typical of Goan houses; the décor is an eclectic mix of classy and quirky. Something about the decor simply appeals at first glance and then has you wanting to explore the quirkiness. 

Prawn Balachao with Sannas was the first dish served and it was finger lickin’ good! We used the leftover Sannas to wipe the platter clean. 

The Shack Style Beef Chili served with Poi (typical Goan bread) was a tad spicy but the beef was beautifully cooked. The poi was a good accompaniment as it helped tone down the spice level on the palate. 

The Surmai in Rechardo Sauce fell off in luscious pieces at the slightest poke of the fork and the spicy-tangy Rechardo sauce complemented it perfectly.

The mutton from the Mutton Vindaloo served as one of the mains could, ideally, have been more succulent but we did like the robust flavour of the gravy. 

The Chicken Xacuti gravy was very toothsome and the chicken was tender and succulent. (The individual photograph I clicked of the Xacuti was a blurred one hence haven't put it up. It would belittle the dish and my blog.)

What I loved best of the three mains, though, was the Prawn Curry. The prawns were cooked to what I term as ‘spot on’ texture. The curry had a lovely hint of coconut milk and slivers of green chili in the curry lent a fabulous hit of heat to the palate. 

They served us a small bowl of tendli (Ivy Gourd) pickle which I apprehensively tasted. It turned out to be delicious!

Sizzling Bibinca with Ice cream was sent over as dessert. I’m not a big fan of Bibinca and I have no clue where they source this one from, but it was superb. 

We live in an era where fusion food is the in thing and not many variations work but this one did.

I made a second visit to Sara Soda with mum. We began our meal with a delicious Tomato Soup. I love tomato soup and this is one of the best I have tasted. They served croutons on the side to ensure they don't go soggy. I so appreciated that!

I loved this bowl of goodness so much that I had a portion packed for dad as Tomato soup is his all time favourite. If you happen to visit Sara Soda do not miss out on this piping hot bowl of deliciousness! Sigh!

Our choice of mocktail was Smokey Tangerine! It looked gorgeous when it was brought to our table and tasted just as superb as it looked. If you like your drinks sweet and tangy then don't miss out on this one.

The Chicken Piri Piri Roll is another ‘must-try’ dish on their menu. Only when you bite into the crisp papad and the yummy moist chicken filling within will you understand why I say it’s a ‘must-try’. 

The Bombay Duck Fingers were a nice change from the regular fish fingers that most restaurants serve. The only suggestion I would make is that they avoid the use of medium or large Bombay Ducks. Small sized Bombay Ducks would be ideal so as to avoid the fine hair-like bones that irritate the palate when one uses medium or large ones. 

The Crispy Honey Chili Chicken needs refinement in terms of flavour and texture. The chicken pieces could have been crisper and the dish lacked honey in totality. I am someone who has quite a high tolerance for spice and in spite of that, my mouth was on fire and my ears weren’t merely ringing, there were bells clanging loudly in there. This dish definitely needs adjustment so as to be in sync with its name.

Sara Soda specializes in sizzlers hence I asked for a recommendation and was advised to give the Tea Smoked Roast Chicken a try. I went with the recommendation and was immensely pleased with the flavours. They gave me an option of noodles or rice as accompaniment and I chose rice. 

I requested them to add a sunny side up to my sizzler and they happily obliged. The chicken emanated a gentle aroma of tea which was subtle enough to not overpower the palate. The sizzler was one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time.

I wanted mum to try the awesome Sizzling Bibinca with Ice cream that I’d had on my last visit hence that was what we ordered. It was just as good as it was the first time. 

They were kind enough to send us a portion of Carrot Stuffed Gulam Jamun with Lemon Grass Rabdi but we found it to be a tad too sweet in entirety. They need to go easy on the sweetness for this dessert. We did give them honest feedback and they took it very gracefully. 

Both afternoons spent at Sara Soda were lovely. Why wouldn’t they be? I had a friend accompany me for the invite and mum for company at the second visit… but, of course, what matters most when one eats out is food and the food at Sara Soda shines. They have quite an extensive menu and I cannot wait to go back and try out more dishes.

Heartfelt thanks Gaurav, Madhuri Jadhav, Chef-Manager Dhanesh and Team Sara Soda for the invite. I was already hooked on Marrakesh; now you have me hooked on Sara Soda too.

Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 5/5

- The first visit was an invite but the second visit, with mum, was as a regular paying patron of the establishment. 
- 'Bhari Jevan Ashile' translates in Konkani to ' The food was very good!'

Some more photographs:

Sara Soda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato