Classic highs in Pune

ALKA KSHIRSAGAR | Updated on: Jun 23, 2011


Rooftop eatery Paasha revives some old favourites in its selection of world cocktails.

You can count on Paasha, the rooftop restaurant at Pune's Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre, to give you quite a high. Some of it has to do with its 24th floor location, making it the city's highest placed eatery by far. A lot more of the headiness comes from the tipple-possibilities, given that one of Paasha's mission statements is to revive a clutch of classics amongst its 50-strong list of cocktails, offer a selection of ‘world cocktails' and stock the widest collection of vodka labels in the vicinity — 35, including high-end ones such as Roberto Cavalli, Beluga and Jean-Marc XO. All of this, in tandem with fine culinary offerings from the kitchens of the Northwest Frontier, holds out a lot of promise.

The large (250 covers), high-roofed restaurant done up in muted gold and black exudes understated elegance. Part of the allure is the spacious, open-to-air lounge at one end that has white leather couches on one half and black cane easy chairs on the other. The bar runs along the centre, and once you have chosen your poison, you can take time off to admire the silhouettes of purple hills on the horizon, try your luck at tracing the Pole Star or asterisms in the Ursa Major, or simply revel in the coolness of the breeze.

Amongst the classic cocktails the Paasha has revived are Aviation, a gin-based cocktail combined with Maraschino and Lime, and Presbyterian (whisky, soda, ginger ale), both quite unknown in this part of the world, says Gagandeep Singh, Director F&B. For the really, really discerning tippler, he recommends Red Dragon (Talisker single malt whisky, watermelon juice, a touch of triple sec) or Ciroc Flower Sparkle (Ciroc, elder flower cordial, prosecco , sparkling wine), which are selections from the list of world-class cocktails.

To go with the drinks, you could, of course, opt for the standard platter of mixed kebabs (in vegetarian and non-veg options), but the speciality of the house, Executive Pastry Chef Ajmal Salim says, is Nadar ke Gular (fried balls of Lotus stem parboiled in milk, mashed, flavoured with spices). The Gular turns out to be quite delectable, and certainly worth a try. This is probably also one of the few places in the city that serve Tandoori bater (Quail, flavoured with Reshampatti chillies, black cardamom, fennel, star anise and other spices).

Head indoors when the aperitifs are done with and it's time for the main meal. Here again, we heed Chef Ajmal's suggestion to go with the time-tested delicacies of Northwest Frontier cuisine. So the moving finger comes to rest at Lahori Nalli (lamb shanks stewed, flavoured with spices, finished with saffron and fresh cream) and Dal Paasha (Black lentils simmered overnight with fresh tomato puree, finished with butter and cream). The choice of partner-in-sin falls on two unleavened Indian breads that, again, are quintessential Paasha: Taftan (made from fermented dough and flavoured with fennel) and the saffron flavoured Sheermal. The meal is fit for a king's feast.

We are urged to try out yet another highlight of the house — Raan Sikandari (Lamb leg braised with onion, tomatoes, yoghurt, cloves and malt vinegar), but even pigging out, albeit in style, has its cut-off point, and we simply must pass that for another day.

Judging from the proceedings, that's not likely to be too far away.

Published on June 23, 2011
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