October 10, 2014 saw the launch of Alfresco at Four Points by Sheraton, Pune. Aiming at simple and uncomplicated service to its guests, Alfresco promises to give the culinary world a whole new meaning. It serves a mix of Mediterranean and Tandoori preparations. We at The Punekar were a part of the launch. Our verdict? Read on!
Alfresco boasts of a serene environment with mini waterfalls and lush green lawns. Glowing lanterns and a fresh breeze add to the alluring environment. An extension of The Eatery, this brings a change from the usual dining out options where you’re confined to the air-conditioned indoors. A breath of fresh air, quite literally.
This is when things started going downhill. Room temperature in France and room temperature in India are two different things. Warm wine, semi-chilled beer, semi-chilled juices…they didn’t seem well prepared. Added to this was the delay in service. The starters were being served at regular intervals, but the bar was extremely slow.
Food and Beverage
They had stocked up on red and white wines, beer and some packed juices. Not an impressive menu, but for someone who doesn’t drink, I’m not complaining! The beverages could have been refrigerated well before being served.
The starters were being served frequently in good amounts which I later realized was a good thing since the main course turned out to be pretty light on the stomach. And on a Friday evening, I was HUNGRY! Here’s a quick run through of the food served during the evening:
Chicken Lasooni Tikka
This turned out to be the tastiest starter of the evening. The pieces could have been softer, but the taste made up for it. Grilled pieces of chicken with an authentic flavour of charcoal made these tikkas an instant hit with most of the guests. I personally gorged on eight of them.
Moroccan Grilled Lamb
Quite a disappointment for such an exotic dish- the lamb pieces were chewy and bland. The flavour of the spices had not seeped in either. If cooked for a little longer, this dish definitely had some scope for improvement.
Well cooked and juicy, this dish was a hit among the vegetarians. Once again, the charcoal grill is what made this preparation palatable.
Not many seemed to enjoy this dish, but I definitely loved it. Soft pieces of fish grilled in charcoal with exotic herbs- a definite must-try for those who enjoy their sea food. Goes well with beer.
Stuffed Potato Skin
This dish looked very appetising, but was a huge disappointment. The potato was under-cooked and almost tasted like it was boiled. Definitely not a good combination with the stuffing made of cheese.
Cottage Cheese Tikka
This one came close to being my number one favorite. Soft pieces of paneer grilled over charcoal tasted buttery and smooth till the very end. A definite must-try vegetarians!
Maybe it’s the manner in which the dishes are prepared that leaves them under-cooked; everything is made in clay pots over charcoal grills. Authentic Mediterranean cooking, and probably the first in Pune. It sure has some scope for improvement.
The main course was a simple preparation of chicken tagine. What impressed me the most was the authentic manner in which it was cooked and served. A small bowl of chicken tagine consisted of 4 big, juicy pieces of chicken served in a soupy gravy. This was served with cous-cous and grilled vegetables. Very authentic, definitely not something that will be enjoyed by those who’re used to strong Indian flavours. I personally found it a refreshing change which also felt very light on the stomach.
I find the dessert to be the most important part of the meal and was waiting in anticipation for this dish to be served. It’s always good to know that restaurants make an effort to surprise you with new innovations. And it’s even better to know that the innovation is a hit. This dish was light, refreshing and absolutely delicious! Served with one scoop of vanilla ice-cream, the pineapple had been grilled to a light brown consistency. The mixture of the hot and cold variants is what makes this dish stand out.
Alfresco also has a range of pizzas and pastas available for those who’re not comfortable with tagine and barbeque.
Reasons to visit Alfresco-
1. If you’re looking at spending a relaxed evening without any particular interest in the food, head over for the ambiance.
2. If you like trying out new cuisines, head over for the authentic, healthy Mediterranean Cuisine.
Reasons to avoid Alfresco-
1. Service could get you a little impatient.
2. Food can definitely show an improvement in terms of taste.