Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mixed experience at the Season Hotel

After planning for a long time, I was finally able to check out what the Seasons Hotel, Aundh has to offer in terms of a dining experience. From what I was able to try out, I came away with fairly mixed feelings about the place.

I visited their sports bar, Time Out, recently with a group of dear friends for a drinking night out. Its a decently designed lounge with limited seating, but a good deal of privacy with each group having their own private corner. The flat screen TVs and the sports related decor lends a theme to this bar. The low sofa seating and the dim lighting is perfect for the place. The drinks menu is pretty impressive and is not overly expensive. All the cocktails were quite strong and well prepared. The snacks and appetisers on offer were quite tasty and overall we had good fun watching the T20 game and getting blown.

That night, Flavours, which is the multi-cuisine buffet restaurant there had an Oriental festival going on. Even though we were all quite full with the cocktails and snacks at Time Out, we still grabbed our plates and sampled the Chinese food available. Sadly, the buffet was quite disappointing with both the variety and quality on offer. There were 2 non-veg main courses and 2 non-veg starters and surprisingly, more variety in the veg section. The pineapple rice was pretty bad and the only other option was regular steamed rice. The soup was nothing great either. So at the end we were more interested in what the desserts would hold rather than the free glass of wine on offer. Of the 4 dessert choices available, coconut custard was the best and the only one worth even tasting.Priced at Rs.500 a head, it definitely was not worth it.

So, a week after this visit, I surprised myself by revisiting Seasons again. This time to try out the rooftop Greek food restaurant called Galaxy Grill, with my darling wife. I have never tried Greek food before and was quite eager to sample the cuisine despite the exorbitant rates there. The ambience at this place is quite wonderful and definitely among the best in Pune. I always feel Pune does not have enough terrace restaurants and this one situated by the poolside and elaborately decorated is quite a pretty place. The soft Greek music and the very nicely designed seating set the mood for the evening. Thankfully, they have a set menu for the night and priced at Rs.650 a head is relatively better compared to the a-la-carte prices (between Rs.400-600 for a main course dish). The set menu includes one soup, starter, salad, main course and dessert which you have to choose out of 3-4 options. The chicken,egg and lemon soup was really nice and the fried squid starter was quite good. The tiger prawns and pasta course and the apple crunch for the sweet dish were mind-blowing. A word of advice though; avoid the minced chicken in vine leaves and stay clear of the a-la-carte menu.

I might still go ahead and try their Punjabi outdoor restaurant, Cinnamon Spice, and the tempting cake shop, Cakes and More. Galaxy Grill is quite a romantic place, but visit only if you are in a mood to experiment with the food. I would advise my friends to avoid Flavours and Time Out is worth it if you want to combine a cricket match and drinking session with your buddies.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MoMo Cafe

Courtyard Marriott's MoMo Cafe is another addition to Pune's growing buffet places. Though this all day dining restaurant does have an a la carte option, the very high pricing on the menu leaves the buffet as the more popular choice. And the buffet does not disappoint. Once you are ready to shell out Rs. 400/- plus taxes for the meal, sit back and have a good time.

First of all, the ambience of this restaurant is among the more classier ones in the city. The high ceiling, tall French windows, carpets and the tasteful decor allows you to relax while you enjoy your meal. The buffet spread is quite vast and the style of displaying the dishes is very aesthetically done. There is plenty of space, plenty of light and plenty of good food on offer. The place attracts a lot of IT crowd being located in Hinjewadi and is quite packed throughout the week, so reserve a place well in advance. The buffet has both continental and Indian style non-veg and veg starters, soups, Indian style main courses, a wonderfully stocked salad bar with dozens of condiments and vinaigrettes and an array of desserts.

I visited the place a few days back with my entire family and we all enjoyed the food. The starters included murgh afghan tikkas, crispy chilly babycorn, grilled fish with tartar sauce and fried chicken with pepper sauce. All were really good, especially the fish. The soups of the day were an Oriental non-veg soup and a Zucchini veg soup, but were a little disappointing. Of the various salads on offer, a special mention must be made of the chicken walnut salad which was mind-blowing. In the main course, there were plenty of veg options of which I remember only the bhindi masala, dal tadka and a paneer preparation. I was too caught up enjoying the delectable mutton and chicken preparations. Both were cooked Indian style and left me licking my fingers.

Of the entire experience, the desserts that day were a little disappointing. Not with the number available though. The strawberry mousse, lemon mousse, fruit salad, kala jamuns, jam tarts were all good. But I could have easily skipped the assorted pastries including an unusual basil one and the caramel creme. However what frustrated me the most, was there wasnt any chocolate based dessert or even ice-cream in the dessert spread that day, which is a cardinal sin.

But I had an enjoyable evening here and its for the tastefully done decor and the tastefully done dishes that I will remember the place.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


A very fine and recent addition to the dining scene in the Kothrud/Deccan region has been Xia, a pan-Asian restaurant located just off Karve Road. It has been started by the Kiva Lounge people and hence you can be assured of having a good experience there. However please note that this is not a lounge at all, but a regular fine dining restaurant with an awesome food and drinks menu. The food, especially is very good and has never disappointed on the numerous occasions that we have visited the place.

Xia has both indoor and outdoor seating, but we have always preferred to sit indoors since the place is located on the busy and noisy Karve road. Its not a big restaurant and hence go well in time to get your choice of place. They have tried to do an Oriental and bamboo sort of theme to the place which, though not as well as desired, does provide some distinguishing character to the place with Buddhist statues and paintings, and cane and leather furniture. A well stocked bar is visible as you enter the indoor seating on the first floor.

But the ambience is not the key factor here. The food is what will bring you back to this restaurant again and again. Xia serves a variety of dishes from Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Burmese, Japanese, Korean and Malaysian cuisine. All the dishes mentioned on the menu have options in veg, chicken, lamb or fish. They also have the old Varunraj restaurant menu in case you want to go for the regular Indian fare. Their specialties include the Pattaya, Nasi Goreng, Burmese khow suey, roasted chilly chicken and the red Thai curry. On my last occasion there with some close friends, we tried the roast lamb and a chicken papaya salad as appetisers with our martinis. The main course comprised of the Pattaya, fish prepared in Burmese style with steamed rice and the malay parathas.

Verdict: The pan-Asian preparations at Xia are among the best that you will sample in Pune at that price. The food as well as drinks are easy on the wallet and definitely value for money. The service is prompt and polite. Visit this place if you are looking for budget dining with quality Oriental food and a good bar service in the Kothrud/Deccan area.