Monday, November 25, 2013

Pukka [Media Event / Indian]

Owed by Derek Valleau (Crush Wine Bar) and Harsh Chawla (restaurant industry consultant), Pukka (@pukkatoronto) definitely introduce a playful, chic, contemporary take of Indian cuisine to St Claire West. I was lucky enough to be invited by Vicky (@momwhoruns) to their media event, not only was the food amazing but also a very fun and intimate with only around a dozen of bloggers around a big communal table.

Pukka means solid, genuine, authentic and the owner thought it's a fun word to use as the name of the restaurant. In British slang, it also means first class or absolute genuine.

With Chefs who previously worked at Scaramouche and Amaya, they have developed a solid sized menu of Indian classics as well as more Western inspired flavors and ingredients such as the Goat Cheese Stuffed Lamb Kebabs and Eton Mess dessert we have.

For a Tuesday night, there wasn't an empty seat by 7:00pm

I was half an hour late so missed the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres :
Pomegranate Royale & Indian Caesar Cocktails
Cold Tandoori Smoked Eggplant Tartare & Mixed Vegetables Pakoras

Peter Boyd (Scaramouche Sommelier) came up with some great wine pairing which wouldn't be easy task given the bold flavors of Indian dishes.

Our dinner was paired with a white and a red wine :
2012 Pinot Bianco, Nals Margreid Italy $46
2012 Cotes du Rhone, Saint-Michel France $9.30/glass $45/bottle

Baby Kale Salad
~ dates, lotus chips, special cashew dressing
This was so good, fresh crispy with the nutty dressing, the sweet dates and the perfectly crispy lotus chips. Perfect combination of flavors and textures.

 Chicken 65
~ South Indian Fried Chicken , chilli-tamarind sauce
Why 65? Some people says it's made from 65 types of spices, some said it's made 65 times before it's successful and some says it's invented in 1965, a dish originated from Chennai, India and is normally served as a bar snack. This was perfect with our white wine, can't help but wanting more.

 Goat Cheese stuffed Lamb Kebabs
~ pomegranate reduction
Not sure how Indian this was but it was delicious. The cheese oozes out when you cut into it although filled with cheese, it was surprisingly not heavy at all especially with the dipping sauce.

 Vegetable String Chaat
~ puffed rice sprouts, chutneys, sweet yogurt
Love the presentation but unfortunately both texture and flavor felt flat especially after the previous dishes which had stronger flavors. Maybe this should have came first.

Love how everything all came at once which is perfect for us since we got to take our pictures in a whirlwind and then sit down to enjoy the meal.

When dinning with a foodie/blogger, make sure to ask if they finish taking pictures before digging in... yes, that's a rule!!!

 Assorted Naan Basket
I try a few flavors but I do like the plain one the best

Poppadoms + Chutney
This was so addictive, we all agree that we can munch on them all day long. As if the crispy goodness wasn't enough, it came with a passion fruit chutney.

Daal Makhani 
~ slow cooked black lentils
This was a side dish but so delicious that I wouldn't mind just having this with some naans.

 French Beans
~ caramelized onions, turmeric, coconut
 This was bland, forgot the salt? Not sure but the beans was crisp and refreshing which is a pretty good side for all the other dishes.

Pan Seared Pickerel
~ coconut, curry leaf
I am usually not a fan of cooked fish but this was delicious with the crispy pan seared skin of the fish that's so yummy with the thick coconut curry sauce. Due to the more delicate texture of the fish, I find it perfect with the Basmati rice rather than the naan

 Beef Short Ribs
~ braised with black cumin, garlic, ginger
 This was very tender, fall off the bone good and a great break from the other creamy option

 Butter Chicken
~ tomato infused butter sauce
 This is by far my favorite dish of the night, love the strong tomato flavor which was so refreshing and the chicken was super tender but feel like that some spices are missing... it didn't prevent me from mopping the plate clean with a naan.

 Spinach + Mushroom Stuffed Paneer
~ pistachio korma sauce
I usually love paneer and I have to say I was a bit disappointed since it was rather bland. This was probably the only dish I didn't like that night.

Eton Mess
~ rosewater meringues, pomegranate, mango, sweet lassi cream
Found the dessert not very "Indian" although it was very delicious. Nice presentation and also a perfect palette cleanser to end the meal

 And thanks Pukka for the parting gift with the amazing Hinterland Ancestral Sparkling which would go perfectly with Indian dishes... all I need now is find some recipe for the Garam Masala.

Verdict :
This is definitely not the usual overly heavy Indian food. This is refined!
I usually find the spices in Indian Cuisine overwhelming and difficult to digest but not here.
Can't wait to bring Ben back to try everything

*** This meal was complimentary but opinions are my own ***

Pukka on Urbanspoon

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