The Ugly Ducking – BBQ Backyard : Ready to quack! — Reviewed!

The Ugly Duckling - Started as a dream by three passionate friends – Niranjan, Gaurav and Swapnil as a venture where they plan to do BBQ Backyard Pit Grills and Smoked Food. "When one smokes the duck, it might look ugly but tastes great. hence the name", says Gaurav explaining the idea behind The Ugly Duckling. Their forte is smoked food with grills in which veggies or meat is smoked in for hours in the grill and then use it for making a delicacy. It needs immense hard work and practice to keep an eye on the food that is being smoked.

Small and cosy cafe in Baner have limited seating arrangement including mezzanine but that cannot stop one from pulling in for the scrumptious food and friendly atmosphere. A very unique idea of showcasing the love received from their happy customers can be seen on the iron staircase leading to the upper floor. Colorful notes oozing out love adorn the beauty of the cafe. Soothing music can surely lift up your mood. 

Menu is limited but customizable. American inspired All day breakfast to Salads, Sandwiches, Appetizers, Main Course, Desserts, Mocktails, Cocktails, Coffee is more than enough to lure you. We started with a spicy mocktail – Strawberry Jalapeno, a sweet-spicy drink was refreshing and a great start to our gastronomic journey. Recommended!

On a healthy and delectable note, we were served Stuffed Courgette Rolls and Sweet Potato Fries. A very basic yet attractive and lip-smacking dish was Stuffed Courgette Rolls with Olive Oil, Balsamic and cheese, and nothing can go wrong. All the flavours were perfectly balanced which bursts in your mouth with each portion. Recommended! 

Sweet Potato Fries, surely a healthy option, were cooked evenly but could have been more crisp with added seasoning.

A super looking Master chef style platter – Smoked Veg Balls was next in the list. Big flat platter with smoked veg balls, sauteed vegetables and burnt garlic rice looked beautiful. Veggies were smoked for some time, mashed, added spices and were made balls, deep fried and incorporated in oh-so-delicious spinach and garlic puree. Veg Balls were melt in mouth and the blend of flavours, spices, sauces could be felt with the first bite. Highly Recommended!

Bell Peppers, Brocollli, Carrots smoked, stir fried in oil, and sprinkled with bit salt and pepper added freshness to the platter.
Burnt Garlic Rice was making the platter fulfilling. Tasted best with the spinach puree. Perfectly made rice.

Cheesy lovers, here is French Spaghetti with garlic bread for you! A different style of Au Gratin in which Spaghetti is cooked in Bechamel sauce (white sauce) with lots of vegetables and cheese again. It could be a meal in itself. The portion size is quite good. Though the main dish may be Spaghetti but the star addition was crispy, crunchy, delicious garlic bread. I could eat that whole basket of garlic bread all by myself. Highly Recommended!
It will not happen that the Nachos are there in the menu and I won't try. After a huge meal, I was wanting to just taste and asked for small portion, to which they readily agreed. Nachos were crisp, flavoured but the sour cream and toppings were missing for me. It was served with salsa and topped with cheese sauce and olives. Salsa was overpowered with onions but had tangy taste of tomatoes as well.

On a sweeter note, newly introduced Red Velvet Hot Chocolate was served. Somehow it did not interest my palate and unfortunately was the only dish that was not appetising. However, if you really wanna enjoy, go for Traditional Hot Chocolate, which I might try in my next visit.

Service was quick and price wise and staff were courteous and happy.

What: BBQ, American Cafe
Where: Shop 3, Basant Bahar, Opposite Mont Vert Finesse, Baner Pashan Link Road, Baner, Pune
Cost: Rs.650 for two people
Timing: 11am -11 pm

The Ugly Duckling - BBQ Backyard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Unlimited Thukpa and Momo Festival at Four Points by Sheraton — Reviewed

Monsoons have set in and what can be better than to savour unlimited delicious Momos and appetising Thukpa at Pan Asian speciality restaurant Panash, Four Points by Sheraton. The festival is starting from 17th June 2016 to 26th June 2016. One can have authentic Tibetian Thukpas and Momos prepared by Tibet origin Chef Tenzin Nyandak, who keeps the recipe simple yet tasty.

For few people, let me explain what Thukpa is. Basically, originated in eastern part of Tibet it is a noodle soup, made with Chicken or Veg broth, an appetizer to keep oneself warm. The dish is quite popular in north east India, Nepal and Bhutan.

The menu for the fest is neat, small with limited variety. This is what they are offering...
Thukpa (Noodle)
  • Mokthuk
  • Pathuk
  • Gyathuk
  • Sha-Momo
  • Sugpa Momo
  • Rasha Momo
  • Chur Tse Momo (V)
  • Ijang Khu Momo (V)
Mokthuk was nice, appetizing broth with steamed wontion stufffed with veggies or chicken. I opted for veg version. Hot soup surely tasted great in rainy weather. Recommended!

Pathuk was hand rolled pinch noodles with with veg simmered in broth. It was also served hot and could have tasted better with more seasoning, spice, though chef Tenzin graciously explained that this is the way it is made. Basically thukpa is made in non-veg but for the masses, he prepared veg too and did justice with it as well. Happy!

Gyathuk was more like regular Chinese noodles with veg simmered in hearty broth. Filling dish with loads of veggies and healthy punch!

One portion of Thukpa and one portion of Momo could be a choice for the palate to enjoy each taste. We moved on to cheesy Chur Tse Momo. Yes the steamed dumpling was filled with cheese and vegetables and what else do you need!? Love it!

Ijang Khu Momo, green colored one was power packed with geen veggies, chives and celery. Totally yum! I must say, the skin of momo was quite translucent and loved the way it was steamed. Both types of Momos tasted best with Black Beans chilli sauce, Chilli Vinegar, Shriracha sauce, Chilli Coriander and Tomato Chilli sauce. One can make their combination and enjoy their portion.

I wish they had more of vegetarian options. How can I forget to mention, Reena offered us for the A La Carte to choose and we settled for the Kagayaki Roll Sushi. Vegetable tempura and tenkasu rolled in sticky rice was awesome. Crisp and crunchy from outside with smooth fillings inside. It was sooo good.The taste still lingers in my mouth. Recommended! 

Do visit the place and treat your taste buds with scrumptious hot momos and thukpa in the rainy weather.
Venue: Panash- Pan Asian Speciality restaurant
Date: 17th June - 26th June
Timing: 7 pm onwards
Price: 550 plus taxes

Panash - Four Points by Sheraton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato