Monday, April 25, 2011

Margaritas in martini glasses – at Salsa, Corinthian Hotel Pune

Much is said about the Corinthian(s) Club. One of the newer clubs to crop up on the Pune club scene, membership is at a premium and it’s a popular venue for concerts, weddings etc. in the east/south pune area. I am not sure if the Corinthians Club and the Corinthians Boutique hotel are part of the same place. The website seems to be the same with two different home pages – and
We have wanted to take the promo tour since a long time and have contemplated getting a membership here. Visiting the place for lunch incognito without being accompanied by a salesperson seemed a good idea to scout the place. This is touted as a five star hotel.
There are several restaurants portrayed in the dining section – Salsa, Pyramisa, Oceanus etc. Salsa was the only place open for lunch for non-members. We decided to give it a shot to end the curiosity about this place. Needless to say, as the title of this post suggests, we were in for a disappointment.

The whole Corinthians club has an Egyptian theme. There are sphinx like motifs everywhere, palm trees and what not. Salsa, as the website says, is Greek – Mediterranean – even mentions the Balkans. Wow. Some reviews I read on the web talked of mezze platters and falafel, and that seemed right for a spot of lunch.
The place we went to was said to be Mexican, continental and Indian – predominantly Indian( so why the misleading webpage?). A buffet menu was offered for lunch at 550Rs. This did not include any drinks. Cocktails were 400Rs on an average. A huge price to pay when you order a margarita and are served something in a martini glass which is just tequila shaken with ice at best. No seriously, imagine 100F + temperatures, a lazy Sunday afternoon, driving through the heat, envisioning a limey green margarita – sweet and sour and salty – and This is placed before you..for something like 10 dollars.. Not a good start, to say the least.

The buffet menu was both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian and almost everything had ‘Jain’ written before it. A clarification request yielded the response – the menu is mostly ‘Jain’ since most people visiting this place are ‘Jain’. I find this really surprising considering the huge population. But anyway, if you are particular about what spices go in your food, you should consider this. The server offered to make ‘everything’ (typical tall promise) fresh for me with the spices I wanted.

The menu was pretty sparse considering the price – a salad bar that had the usual green salad, devilled eggs, a pre-tossed Caesar, a salsa verde salad( unmentionable), some boondi raita, and that’s about it. There were some rolls and breadsticks.
There were two soups. The minestrone looked watery at best, and I ditched this considering the sweltering heat. The appetizers had some mutton seekh and some fish tikka. The fish tikka, I hear, was Ok.
Vegetarians has ‘nachos and cheese’ and veg seekh. The veg seekh was extremely salty, but was one of the few things that could be eaten as an appetizer. The ‘nachos and cheese’ were mostly a bed of corn chips, with some cheese on top, and baked enough to melt the cheese. It was not worth mentioning. There were some beans here and there on the nachos, mostly rajma which was pasty/undercooked. There was no cheddar like sauce, no salsa and the ‘cheese’ was mediocre at best.

There was a meat as well as soy shepherd’s pie. This was once again a pretty lame attempt. There was no soy or TVP mince as I expected in lieu of the ground meat and peas you would find in a meat pie, but just nuggets sprinkled here and there that were watery. The sauce was very tomatoey with a rosemary like flavor, no sherry etc.

The other entrees – a corn pepper subji, some white bland mixed vegetables with the grand name of ‘mughlai’ etc. were very ordinary. There was one vegetable which was their saving grace – paneer tikka cooked in a thick spinach sauce, kinda like palak paneer having paneer tikka in it instead of just paneer. This was specially cooked for us with onions and garlic.

There were only two desserts. One was like a mini gulab jamun in rabdi/basundi instead of in syrup. The other dessert was chocolate ‘pudding’, which was nothing but Dry sliced cake. Even the cake in the kayani bakery is richer than this. If my limited culinary knowledge of world cuisine is not enough to know that such a cake is also called chocolate pudding, someone please enlighten me. Both desserts were at room temperature. A cold one would have been nice considering the heat.

The ambience was good but was wasted in lieu of all other factors. There are statues of people playing guitar, sax etc., and there are a lot of black and white photos of people playing the sax. There was some nice jazz or latin jazz/salsa playing in the background. Which was difficult to hear due to a horde of noisy patrons. Half our time was taken up by a noisy table with voices that could be heard fifty feet away. The rest was taken up by a crowd with 3-4 babies, all screaming at the top of their lungs. Babies will be babies, but what to do when their erstwhile parents start playing music full volume on their cell phones??
A request to the staff yielded the response that they were helpless. I take points away from an otherwise well trained wait staff for this. They have to be assertive, and think of the common good.

When the check was presented, I was asked to fill out a feedback form. I almost shuddered, thinking of my experience at the Yellow Chili, but I still gave in and filled it out. I gave max points for service and ambience but remarked, rightly so, that the food could be better. The girl came back with questions on my comments, and I had to beg her to please leave me alone!!

Overall, this was disappointing. I can think of several places where I can get excellent food for this money. Sukanta can give me a much better and tastier Indian meal for one third of the cost. Anyone visitng this place expecting to go on a culinary mediterranean journey will certainly be in for a shock.

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