Restaurant Review: Punjab Grill, Viman Nagar, Pune – 4/5 Stars

Unveiling of the Chakhna Menu: Dil se Desi at Punjab Grill

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Everyone enjoys a bit of snacks with their drinks, a distracting element from the continuous sips of mocktails or alcohol and a good accompaniment to engaging conversation.

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Punjab Grill has come up with an exciting new ‘Chakhna’ Menu (appetizers with drinks), which is primarily high-end Bar grub. 
We walked into a quaint glass panelled restaurant with servers in North Indian royal livery to greet us.

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Outdoor seating overlooking the Phoenix Market City Mall with yellow ambient lighting and desi music in a cozy set up looked promising for a good time at the bar food launch.

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The waiter served us welcome drinks and four colorful paper cones of snacks which contained black channa masala, aloo tikki, kaju badam, corn puff balls and a dry fruit salad combo. 

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The presentation was attractive and set the desi mood for the launch. The itsy bitsy snack cones were not too salty and were light enough to enjoy with the welcome drinks (in alternate bites and sips).

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The welcome drink ‘Nikhi ke Tikhi’ was a burst of pleasure to the taste buds. A delicious blend of ‘Vodka’, ‘Khus’, ‘Mint’ and ‘Green Chillies’. It was spicy as well sweet and the leaves left a fresh lemony tanginess to the tongue.

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The server looking after our table brought in the first creation by Chef Gurpreet Singh and his talented team – the ‘Jheenga Chownk ki Tikki’ with a side accompaniment of ‘Masala Mattra’. The Jheena Chownk ki Tikki, a cutlet of mashed potato and prawn had a crispy outer covering – lovely. The first taste was of the green chutney mixed into the cutlet and the second was of the mildly salted mashed potatoes. We could also taste fresh prawns. You would be left with a spicy aftertaste. The aftertaste is perfect for a sip of the ‘Nikhi ki Tikhi’. The ‘Masala Mattra’ accompaniment made the tikki tastier with its juicy texture. 

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The next Chakhna, the ‘Tandoori Kukkad Wings with Imli di Chutney’ is a unique creation indeed. You are enveloped in the taste of tamarind and tandoori masala. The juicy wings were perfectly cooked and a lovely finger food with drinks. It was quite fun to bite into a blend of tamarind and chicken perfectly roasted and delectable.

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While wolfing down the Kukkad, we decided to order another desi drink creation, the ‘Ganne ka Juice Margarita’ – too strong for our taste. It was a very sweet blend of black salt, sugarcane, ginger, tequila and lemon juice. The presentation though, was quite lovely. It was served in a margarita glass with a smoky mist rising from it. This one is meant for those foodies who have a sweet tooth and like their drinks really strong. 

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While we took sips of our Margarita, the ‘Ambarsari Machi in a basket’ was served to us. A crispy fish cutlet accompanied by aromatic green chutney and desi aloo chips. It was a typical fish preparation but we found it slightly dry and chewy. A well attempted Chakhna but it could have certainly been juicier in our opinion.

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The best Chakhna for the desi non-vegetarians – the classic ‘Mutton ki Boti in Istri’ was served to us in an antique coal iron style dish. The boti was placed aesthetically where the burning coal usually is. A very delicious and juicy dish, soaked and coated in lip-smacking onion based masala. The bite-sized mutton boti was quite filling and tasted extremely good, perfect for the mutton loving fraternity.

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We were having a great time and decided to order another tempting looking drink from the bar menu. We were served the ‘Pineapple Thandai’ in traditional North Indian Holi-style. A brass jar with a long handle filled with bhang was passed among the happy crowd; this is what reminded us of the festival of colours as soon as we laid our eyes on the Thandai. It was a frothy mixture of pineapple, alcohol, milk, sugar syrup and thandai. (Note: the drinks that were served to us can be served without alcohol at the restaurant too.) Tiny pineapple pieces added a fresh bit of tanginess and the thandai certainly gave a very home-like feel to my taste buds. Certainly fun to drink, the restaurant gave you the option of using a straw to seem more lady-like as you glugged down this desi treat. 

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We decided to try the ‘Anda Tawa Rice’ with onion dip. The flavored masala rice served in a little clay pot and a marble tile was topped with a baked egg cake with a runny egg yolk centre. The cake consisted of a juicy, well-cooked mix of tomatoes, coriander and onions. The showstopper was certainly the egg-cake which was frothy and the egg yolk flavored the rice beautifully. The rice sprinkled with bhujia and cut up spring onions was mildly flavored to highlight the egg cake. The onion dip has a distinct taste of sweet onion sauce and was indeed a unique accompaniment to the Anda Tawa rice. 

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The vegetarian Chakhna that caught my attention was the ‘Masala Paneer Platter’. This was a soft Chakhna, soaked in cream and topped with mango jam/murabba. It certainly filled up our senses with joy. The paneer was infused with delicious flavors that were mild to the tongue and made the dish seem very creamy. It was fun to eat and perfect for a tangy, hair-raising drink.

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The cheese-like taste of the ‘Masala Paneer Platter’ urged our taste-buds to continue on this amazing journey. We called for the ‘Mathri with Cheese Fondue’, this lightly heated bowl filled with cheese fondue was accompanied with four varieties of crunchies. Slices of carrot and cucumber, plain mathris, jeera mathris and Kasturi Methi Mathri. The Mathris were quite tasty but the cheese fondue was slightly off-the-mark, a little too diluted for my liking. 

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We needed something sweet and cold on an immediate basis to get our minds off the fondue. The ‘Mele di Chuski’ – vodka flavored ice cream sticks were arranged in rows of different flavors caught our eye. We had quite a few to choose from, the aam panna, the nimbu pani, the jal jeera, the tango orange and the anar (pomegranate). We went in for the aam panna and the anar ice sticks/chuskis. The Aam Panna is perfect for people who love the khatta-meetha taste. Boiled raw mango shaped into an ice cream and covered with soaked sabja seeds – what could be better. It was certainly a yummy treat.

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The Anar gola was quite alright – cool and light to taste. Soaked in black salt, it reminded us a lot of the ‘Hajmola’ flavor. We really enjoyed the teeth curling taste of the Anar chuski though.

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To say that the Chakhna Menu was wonderful would be an understatement, we certainly totally enjoyed the unique creativity of the talented chef and the menu spoke out its Chakhna distinctiveness quite wonderfully. It was quite an interesting concept that other restaurants should learn from. 

XOXO
Shivangi

Review Credit: Urvashi Patole

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One thought on “Restaurant Review: Punjab Grill, Viman Nagar, Pune – 4/5 Stars

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