MAANAS SHAH gets talking about the molecular dishes at ORION KITCHEN & BAR
Citadel columnist MAANAS SHAH gives our readers a fair review of the molecular dishes served at ORION KITCHEN & BAR.
In the midst of all pretentious molecular gastronomy restaurants whose only claim to fame is dry ice and associated theatre, comes a rather unassuming new place, which is guaranteed to blow your socks off. Just an infant on the Pune culinary landscape, Orion Kitchen & Bar is already making waves for their superlative food and commendable service.
The Cinematic (`280) cocktail was one brilliant drink. Made using whisky as a base and garnished with cinnamon ash and a cinnamon stick, it was quite literally one of the best whisky based cocktails I have had in recent times. Very few bars get their whiskey mocktails right. And this one for sure will catch the fancy of whiskey connoisseurs. The addition of sugar syrup gave it another sweet dimension, which is unusual for a whisky based cocktail. The Sharabi Lassi (` 500) too, was a potent combination of Bailey’s, Jameson, mango syrup, and Marimbula saffron syrup with creamy lassi. Tasty enough to generate a moustache, if you know what I mean! Again, there are many twists out there on saddi lassi, but this one does stand out and the flavour combination works brilliantly. The Tamarind Margarita (`380), unfortunately, didn’t appeal to me quite as much. It is definitely an acquired taste with its tangy sourness. A little too much tamarind sauce in the drink made it a little too sour for my palate. However, it did make a pretty picture.
Both the soups we tried at Orion Kitchen & Bar were absolutely outstanding. The Three Mushroom Liquid with Air Dried Mushroom (` 220), popularly known as ‘Cappuccino Soup’, was a perfect blend of creamy mushrooms, served hot in a coffee cup with a slice of toast on top for crunchiness. So good, I ended up ordering one more portion of it. This is the perfect companion to books on a chilly winter evening. Soups tend to set the mood for the rest of the food courses of the evening. And they just can’t go wrong! Warm
or cold soups literarily are the gateway to a scrumptious meal. I had to stop myself from bingeing on the soup at Orion, which raised my expectations on the rest of the food inevitably. The Indian Spiced Pumpkin Veloute (`200) too, was a delightful soup, but my heart was already stolen by the mushroom soup. But to be fair and honest, it was near impossible to make out that it was a pumpkin based soup; it was a perfectly healthy warm fuzzy soup for the soul.
The Golden Fried Prawns with Sweet Chili Air (`320) were on a different plane altogether. Perfectly crisp on the outside and perfectly cooked and soft on the inside, it was well complemented by the sweet chilli air. The presentation however, could have been a little better, for as they say, you begin eating with your eyes first. The Chicken Kandhari Kebab (`260) was perfectly cooked and I loved the chargrilled bits, while the Paneer Makhmali Rolls (`280) had a lovely beetroot marinade as well as foam. The beetroot marinade had a nice subtle tone, which helped elevate the dish. Looks wise, the addition of the flowers as visual elements gave an extremely colourful look to the plate. World over, beetroot has been the hero across cuisines, and it is indeed a very tricky vegetable to incorporate while keeping its essence intact. I thought the beetroot complimented the paneer phenomenally well and lent itself well both as a marinade and as an accompaniment. The Murgh Zafrani Kebab with Saffron Foam (`280) had generous strands of saffron as embellishments and had that amazing potent fragrance as well as flavour to the dish. The chicken too, was perfectly cooked and tender.
The Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter (` 300) had a somewhat unusual presentation, but that took nothing away from the sheer brilliance that was this dish. Being a 100 per cent vegetarian
dish, even the pasta sheets are made fresh every morning without the use of eggs, yet had that amazing softness and stretchiness to the dough. Very few get this classic right. Despite being a simple dish, there are many things that can go wrong in the flavour. Once again, a pumpkin dish which quite literally blows your mind away with simple yet spot-on flavours. The Beetroot Risotto (`280) wasn’t the most appealing visually, and didn’t tickle my taste buds much, either. The rice used wasn’t as al-dente as is expected from a risotto. The lack of bite to the rice was a slight disappointment. The Smoked Chicken Ravioli (`350) was garnished with olive ash; something that was a first for me as well. The ash provided a nice subtle sour-y tinge to the dish. The nonvegetarian sibling of the Pumpkin Ravioli, this too, was par excellence. The Chicken Katsu Kare felt a little gluggy for me, however, the chef clarified that is how a Katsu Kare is supposed to be, so no complaints there. Taste-wise too, it was pretty good. The chicken was tender and the rice was appropriately sticky.
Orion Kitchen & Bar have their own take on the Shahi Tukda (` 300). Presented in a deconstructed form with fried bread pieces and a pot full of the condensed milk, the plate was picture perfect! Prepared as expected, however, it was a little too sweet for my palate. Apart from the Shahi Tukda, Abhishek, co-owner of Orion Kitchen & Bar, was kind enough to serve us an off the menu, home-made recipe of Moong Dal Halwa Ka Paratha. Similar to the Gujju-style stuffed Puran Poli, the Halwa Ka Paratha was thankfully low on sweetness and high on flavours. From using the most authentic and freshest of ingredients, to attentive yet unobtrusive service, to superlative food, Orion Kitchen & Bar is guaranteed to give you an unforgettable dining experience.
3 Mushroom Liquid with Air Dried Mushroom
Golden Fried Prawns
Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter
Chicken Kandhari Kebab
Murgh Zafrani Kebab
Indian Spiced Pumpkin Veloute
Smoked Chicken Ravioli
Moong Dal Halwa ka Paratha
Chicken Katsu Kare