March 1, 2019

RESTAURANT REVIEW – THE BARKHANA: FUSION FOOD, ROCK MUSIC AND A CASUAL AMBIENCE

Words: Shourya Jain
Images: The Barkhana

“Whether a restaurant is to be recommended or not depends on multiple things. The ambience, the service, the menu, the taste, the portions and of course the price.”

WITH MORE AND MORE PEOPLE WILLING TO BE EXPERIMENTAL WITH THEIR FOOD, FUSION CUISINE IS WHERE ALL THE RESTAURANT ACTION’S AT. WHICH IS PERFECT FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF THE BARKHANA IN PUNE

THE BARKHANA AND THE FUSION FOOD PHENOMENON

Food was the last bastion of a divisive society for food has always been clearly demarcated by region. You either had Continental food or Oriental – Chinese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and mostly Chinese – and you had Indian, the latter divided into North and South. The fusion cuisine phenomenon however is breaking down these regional-cultural barriers down at a furious pace with restaurants like The Barkhana emerging as champions of a new gastronomic age. So like we have done in the past, team Just Urbane, decided to find out what all the fuss was about.

THE BARKHANA IS A ROCK LOVER’S HAUNT

Ask Nilesh, the property manager, at The Barkhana. He loves, and knows, his rock music and even on the Monday that we called on The Barkhana’s hospitality, the DJ’s weekly off, the playlist was anything but banal. Between strains of Queen, Pink Floyd, The Police and U2 we debated and discussed what we should order from the menu that had been thrown wide open for us to choose from. It is extremely refreshing when a restaurant does that instead of curating a tasting menu with specific courses, for it inevitably means that it is confident of the food it creates. Doesn’t matter what you choose. And we, being the hungry greedy souls that we are, chose a lot. Some of us of course claimed that we were only trying to binge eat to drown the Monday blues.

DON’T EXPECT THE NORMAL AT THE BARKHANA

About a quarter of an hour after the courteous waiter had walked away with our order, we were all jabbering excitedly hunched around The Barkhana house specials, a range of cocktails that they have developed. And between us we pretty much had at least one of every single cocktail that we had read. So I sat nursing a Passion Fruit Mango Spiced, an intriguing concoction of vodka, passion fruit syrup, mango juice and spices. This would soon be followed by the Green Queen where white rum, fresh pineapple, passion fruit syrup and coriander reigned supreme. Towards the end I would finish with the Best of Me, which was a heady mix of gin, cucumber, coriander leaf, black salt and lime juice. While the first carried the delightful tang of spiced mango, the strong presence of coriander in the second gave it a unique balance that bounced around the palate. The third however was not much different from a regular Capirosca. Totally different but equally refreshing. To my right, my friend Yvonne was busy trying Lady Luck, another mix of vodka, passion fruit syrup, yuzu, orange juice and cranberry juice. A sip from her glass releases a lovely summery taste on my tongue. Our editor Aninda, meanwhile was happy to smack his lips at the Battery Acid – a rich mix of white rum, coffee shot, hazelnut syrup and fresh cream, before promptly ordering two more. Clearly, he liked the stuff. Roshni, a teetotaler and painfully sober at all times, had a go at the mocktails and hooked a thumbs up at Wake Up, a mix of coffee shot, coconut milk and milk.

THE BARKHANA IS ALL ABOUT FOOD SERVED WITH A TWIST

So you have Dal Makhani Nachos, which is home-made nachos topped with jalapenos, olives and the classic dal makhani. The result is an incredibly unique mix of flavours. The crumb fried prawns with Schezwan masala dip, named Bang Bang Prawns, were equally delightful. We followed it up with the Pav Bhaji Naanza, which is essentially a pizza with the bhaji used as topping along with shredded cheese, and found it rather delectable too. On a roll, we called for a Bhuni Mirch ka Malai Tikka – a vegetarian dish comprising cottage cheese coated with green chilli paste. This didn’t turn out so well with the cottage cheese overpowering the flavour of the chilli, resulting in a slightly bland dish. We wrapped the evening up with another interesting dish, Desi Murgi Quesadillas, which is essentially Mexican tortilla filled with minced chicken tikka.

THE FINAL VERDICT ON THE BARKHANA

Whether a restaurant is to be recommended or not depends on multiple things. The ambience, the service, the menu, the taste, the portions and of course the price. So on a scale of one to ten, The Barkhana was doing quite nicely so far with its chilled out casual ambience enhanced by lovely rock music being played at a volume that lets you sing along or chat with your buddies with equal ease. The cocktails had been invigorating and the food, save one, was a thumbs up. The portions are perfect too, not too much yet not too little. But all this goodwill could have been ground to the dust on one aspect alone. Pricing. Thankfully, the folks at The Barkhana have done well to price its fare well. So expect to shell out around Rs. 410 for the Bang Bang Prawns, which was one of the more expensive dishes that we tried out. You’re essentially looking at about a grand and a half to about a couple of grand for an evening out with alcohol included. That’s not a bad deal at all.

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