Sunday, September 30, 2012

EATING OUT IN PUNE - OUT OF THE BLUE


EATING OUT IN PUNE
W-Day Lunch at OUT OF THE BLUE
By
VIKRAM KARVE

When I got a call inviting me to a Pune Food Bloggers Meet at a new place called Out of the Blue the first thought that came to my mind was how to say a polite “No” since I thought that the restaurant must be located in Koregaon Park (or someplace across the river in Kalyani Nagar or the newly developing suburbs on Nagar Road) and I did not quite relish the prospect of driving across the city in the crazy jam-packed Pune traffic, especially in the evening.

However, when I was told the restaurant was located in the E-Square Multiplex, and that it was a “Brunch” Get-together, I readily agreed.

That is the chief “plus point” of Out of the Blue – it’s location.

Any eating place towards the Western Suburbs of Pune is most welcome.

In contrast to the Eastern Part of Pune which has plenty of good Foodie options, there is a paucity of comparable eateries in the Western Parts of Pune.

That is the tragedy of Pune. Considering the expected huge expansion of the Hinjewadi InfoTech Park as the IT Industry rapidly proliferates, it is evident that the future of Pune lies in its Western Suburbs like Wakad, Hinjewadi, Baner, Aundh and Aundh Annexe. But sadly, there is almost zero social infrastructure out here – there are no multiplexes, no malls and very few decent family dining places.

In contrast, the already overcrowded Eastern Suburbs of Pune are getting saturated till bursting point, with new malls, multiplexes and restaurants opening every day.

This lopsided development defies logic, and it just doesn’t make any sense, especially since commuting is a big problem considering the traffic woes of Pune. Let’s hope things will self-correct in due course.

Now coming to Out of the Blue , the restaurant is situated at the Lobby Level of ESquare Multiplex on Ganeshkind Road near the University of Pune – an ideal location for a family outing of a Movie and a Meal, or maybe a romantic date, or a get-together like ours.

We, the Food Bloggers of Pune, assembled in the foyer on Wednesday afternoon and the first thing that impressed me was the comforting ambience.

We were told that we were going to partake of the W-Day Lunch or Wednesday Lunch Buffet for Women.

I was quite taken aback since we Blogging Foodies were a mix of men and women.

I looked around and saw that there was a sizeable number of males amongst the diners – though they call it a Buffet for Women, it is not exclusively for women, and neither is the food strictly “feminine”.

(They have a few lucky dip prizes too – those, it appears, are for women, though not strictly so, since I spotted a male getting a prize too)

The moment we entered I was impressed by the ambience – bright, spacious and airy environment, yet serene and welcoming with comfortable seating – an ideal setting that creates the right comforting vibes conducive to relaxed leisurely eating.  

I had a look at single page pink coloured buffet menu. Then I perused the more elaborate a la carte menu.

I asked my neighbour, Sid, what the “signature dish” of this place was.

“Fondue,” he said, “try the Fondue.”

Someone suggested the Desi Fondue, and everyone said the Fondue in Out of the Blue was great, so I ordered a Desi Fondue, and waited in anticipation, wondering how the Fondue would taste, since I had never eaten a Fondue before.

Yes, I have never eaten Fondue.

Surprised?

Don’t be surprised – for I am not a high falutin connoisseur of gourmet cuisine.

I not an expert food critic, nor am I an au fait globetrotting boffin who pontificates on the finer aspects fine dining.

I am certainly not an authority in the art of gastronomy, nor I am I a professional in the food industry.

I am a simple Foodie, a down-to-earth Trencherman, an unpretentious aficionado who loves to eat.

I live to eat and I strongly believe in the dictum: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”.

I love to eat and I love to write.

So I eat and then I write about it.

That is what I am doing now.
I have digressed, so let me come back to what I was writing about.

Last Wednesday I ate at a place called OUT OF THE BLUE – and now I am writing about it.

The much hyped Fondue never arrived.

I was politely told to restrict myself to the Buffet Menu as the a la carte menu was not available that afternoon, at least for the Food Bloggers Meet.

I was disappointed – maybe I’ll savour a Fondue some day, if it is in my destiny.

We headed to the Buffet Spread and started off with the soup.

There was only one soup at the counter – a vegetable soup – quite okay, passable, nothing much to write home about.

Then there were assorted breads – rather prosaic.

What is worth a mention are the delicious dips, especially the Aioli Dip which was marvellous and truly lip-smacking.

The Salad Bar was impressive and there were a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads to choose from.

The salads were good and so was the cheese platter.

I particularly liked the Seafood Papaya Salad and Chicken Sausage Salad which were delicious.

The Sushi was tasty too, suitably adapted for the Indian palate.

We then sat down on the dining table and mulled over the choice of the main course dish.

At Out of the Blue they do not lay out all the main course dishes on the buffet table but they freshly prepare and serve the main course dish portion plated on your table.

Also, you can order only one main course dish.

So you do not heap up your plate with all the main course dishes as you usually do at other buffets.

This enables you to focus on your selection and relish the main course dish in its entirety.

This also prevents overeating which typically happens in buffets.

For the main course you can choose one dish from a variety of sizzlers, pastas and BBQ dishes. The selection includes 3 types of sizzlers (Chicken Steak, Veg Cutlet, Cottage Cheese), 2 pastas (Veg and Non-Veg) and 3 BBQ Dishes (Chicken, Fish and Veg).

When in a new place (and when in doubt) it is always best to ask the experts, the veterans, and the staff, and they all recommended Chicken in Lemon Sauce and I was not disappointed.

The Chicken in Lemon Sauce served at Out of the Blue is superb – a visually appealing platter which tastes delicious – the well marinated grilled chicken coated with mildly spiced mustard lemon sauce was truly scrumptious and went well with the colourful grilled vegetables and soft mashed potatoes, an attractive contrast of colours – green, yellow, white and brown – indeed a splendid preparation.

If you ever visit Out of the Blue make sure you order Chicken in Lemon Sauce a la carte.

By the way, this dish (Chicken in Lemon Sauce) took some time to prepare, and as I waited, some sizzlers arrived at the table.

Serving Sizzlers in such tranquil ambiance is certainly not a good idea.

The noisy “sizzle” is quite dissonant to the calm, soothing and peaceful atmosphere and the overpowering odorous smoke is utterly discordant to the pristine ambience and seems inharmonious with the appetizing vibes the lovely comforting setting otherwise generates.

Sid, sitting next to me, and Tanzif, sitting opposite, ordered sizzlers, and when the “sizzling” sizzlers were served, much to my dismay, the profuse hot stifling repugnant pungent smoke emanating from the sizzlers that overpowered my olfactory system was so off-putting that it almost ruined my appetite.

I sipped some cold Ice Tea, trying to recover my “foodie-vibes”, and the moment my Main Course order, Chicken in Lemon Sauce, arrived, it was such an eye-catching visual delight that, just looking at it, my appetite was restored once again and I thoroughly relished this exquisite dish which I have described above.

I had a bite of the sizzlers, so generously offered by my dining neighbours.

I did not like the Veg Cutlet Sizzler, quite bland and uninspiring.

The Chicken Grilled Sizzler was just about okay, but I have tasted much better Sizzlers in Pune, and elsewhere.

However, the Spicy Fish (Basa Fillet) in Cream Sauce was marvellous – the superbly seasoned and prepared fish in the creamy sauce -  the taste was amazing, exceptionally superb, and I highly recommend that you try out this delectable dish too whenever you visit Out of the Blue.   

Of the three desserts, I liked the Lemon Cheesecake, Blueberry Roll and Death by Chocolate (the Lemon Cheesecake was really splendid), but I found the Papaya Mousse a bit bitterish due to which it left a slightly tarty aftertaste on my tongue.

I wish they serve ice cream instead of mousse as this will be a more befitting end to the buffet and a dash of ice cream will go well with the other desserts like cheesecake and chocolate pastries.

To sum up, I would say that the Out of the Blue W-day is pleasantly different from the ubiquitous run-of-the-mill buffets you encounter day in and day out.

Allowing you to select the main course and serving it freshly prepared and plated is a good idea as this precludes you from heaping up your plate with everything you see laid out in front of you, controls the urge for overeating, and makes you feel satisfied, yet light, at the end of the meal.

The buffet is reasonably priced at Rs. 395, and considering the superb ambience and splendid food, I would certainly recommend this value-for-money meal. There is a well-stocked bar in case you want to raise you spirits and the a la carte menu looks good too (I must try out the Fondue some day).

I feel that Out of the Blue restaurant has the right blend of ambience, food and service and is a nice place to have a cosy romantic tête-à-tête, a leisurely repast on a lazy afternoon or maybe even a happy family dinner, especially if you live towards the Western side of Pune.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram lives in Pune Maharashtra India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
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Email: vikramkarve@sify.com

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