Tickling the taste buds at Shakahari

Your columnist was invited for a meal at the soft launch of a restaurant recently, and it was the best part of an otherwise dreary Tuesday.

They’re turning Shakahari at the JW Marriot into a new restaurant, with a redesigned menu, new ambience and, well, new everything really. And they called, and asked if I would be kind enough to put on the feeding bag and let them know how it all went down.

Which, and let me be frank here, was music to my ears. You wouldn’t have thought it by looking at my svelte waistline, but I assure you, I collect calories the way Kohli collects centuries. And so I was only too happy to be led into the restaurant and be treated like the Empress of Blandings was treated at Blandings Castle.

I don’t know if you’ve been lucky enough to be invited to one of these things, but do try it one of these days. They positively fawn over you at these launches, and you get a sense of what royalty must have felt like in the days of yore. They sprinkled fragrant rose water over me as I walked in, for example. Can’t remember the last time anybody did that for me, honestly.

About fifty people asked me how I was doing before I could make it to my table, and they were all, without exception, almost beside themselves with joy when I informed them that I was not doing too badly. They then took turns explaining to me how the meal was going to be structured, and what I should keep an eye and taste-bud out for. They then laid out the table and draped a napkin on my lap. Which is a good thing, because I put a lot of things on my CV, but advanced motor skills isn’t one of them. And then they waited for me to start digging in.

Now coming to the victuals themselves, I generally don’t like meals that have the flora but not the fauna, but I must admit, this was a pretty good spread. They had dishes from all parts of India, and some very fine breads to go with it. If you happen to find yourself feeding at this trough anytime soon, do ask for the dahi ke kabab, the dal baati churma and the pindi chole in particular. Your cardiologist may disapprove, it is true, but then again, cardiologists were invented so that we could ignore them. The soups, the starters and the chaat section were also pretty good by my gourmandish standards, and the desserts in particular have proven to be responsible for my tailor’s son’s higher education, for which they are both very grateful. Let me just say that if you experienced a transient shortage of sugar and clarified butter in Pune’s markets on Tuesday, I know who the guilty party is.

To put a long story short, on the basis of the two hours that I spent over there, I would be very happy to recommend that you go and eat at Shakahari once it opens in its new avatar. I am reliably informed that this will happen sometime by the end of this month, if not at the start of the next, so you don’t have long to wait.

Pro-tip: Practise your swerving skills if you don’t like rose water on the upper parts of your body.

Disclaimer: This was a meal for which I was not required to pay, and nor was I paid by the restaurant to write this post.

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni