Bistro Oakwood Premier in Pune is part of Oakwood Premier hotel and service apartments which are tucked away in a quiet leafy lane at the end of North Main Road in Koregaon Park. I have long been a fan of their Sen5es restaurant, and love it. I have never actually written a review of the place because its one of those favorites I don’t want to dissect. I have a good time there and that is enough for me.
The Bistro is another restaurant that came up a couple of years ago, a few feet away from where Sen5es is located. I had never been there, and after debating over several different restaurants, I chose the Bistro for its eclectic menu and ambience.
Now the one thing that I would like to point out about these restaurants is that they are almost always deserted. But their kitchen seems to be bustling. I have always assumed that most of their clientele is room service ordered by people who live there. Guests in the restaurant seem almost superfluous in this environment. But the luxurious interiors and impeccable service has always made up for it.
After all that background, let me get down to brass tacks. We went to the Bistro on a weekday for lunch. They have al fresco seating, but that is a smoking zone (come on, still?) so we had to pick a table inside. There is a whole wall stocked with items such as juices, chips, ketchup etc. – I think that is just part of their décor. Wood tables and chairs and soft lighting gave a cozy feel.
It is inevitable that I will compare this place to its cousin, the Sen5es restaurant. At first glance, they seem similar but there are fine differences. Everything is a bit toned down, a tad pedestrian, starting with the flatware and stemware and even the plates. I suppose that could align with the ‘roadside restaurant’ or bistro theme. The prices, though, don’t. Especially when you consider the portion sizes!
One point that rankled is the restrooms. The restrooms are situated outside the restaurant and have a separate entrance. So if you need to visit, you need to exit the restaurant and go next door. It is really hard to imagine why the place is designed in such a manner.
The Bistro has a good selection of domestic and foreign beers, cocktails and an extensive wine list. Mixed drinks are much more expensive than actual liquor. So a cocktail will probably set you back more than a single malt.
We went the non-alcohlic route and ordered different drinks. I had been looking forward to their much talked about homemade ginger ale. Alas, I was presented with ginger ale in a Schweppes can. The server seemed a bit confused when we ordered the spicy guava tea, but then we got two versions of the drink. One was a tea based drink served in a fantastic tall glass which had a pretty strong kick of pepper. Another drink, on the house, was juice based with a generous shot of Tabasco and maybe cayenne.
We were served fresh bread minus butter. The bread was warm and fresh with a sprinkling of herbs, but serving butter with rolls is a very basic expectation.
I chose to go the Tapas route for the appetizers hoping to sample more items. Now I know what tapas is and that it is smaller in size compared to a whole portion of appetizers. But the Tapas at the Bistro was thoroughly disappointing.
Spianch and Corn Empanadas yielded two pieces – two pieces! The mezze platter was a joke. When I think ‘Mezze Platter’, I have visions of Middle Eastern grandeur, generous mounds of hummus and baba ghanoush, tabouleh, heaps of olives, and fresh baked warm pita bread, generous drizzles of olive oil and so on.
The Mezze Platter, Tapas size, had four items, with maybe 1 Tablespoon of each item. The hummus was so-so, the tabouleh was so scant that there was no tomato in it, there were four olives. The pita bread was actually tiny rounds of a thin flat bread that could have been baked any time, and they didn’t have the soft pillowy feel of a pita bread.
Non vegetarian tapas ordered by our party was chicken winges – 4 drummettes, and lamb croquettes – 4 tiny sausage links sized pieces. They were pronounced delicious!
The next order was the margherita pizza. This was a winner. Super thin crust, just enough cheese, strong basil flavor and it melted in the mouth.
There was a big debate on the entrees to be ordered, and we ordered another pizza – pizza Verdi, to fill the void. This was also good with lots of tender asparagus and broccoli. Some of us ordered the paninis and there was a lull. The person taking our orders was nowhere to be seen.
We were informed that the pasta Bolognese is made with beef, and so there was yet another discussion on what to order. They have a lot of pastas and risottos and their ‘sampler’ is a good way to taste different dishes. But after the whole tapas debacle, I was not inclined to order any ‘sampler’. And when I go out, I try not to order pastas which I regularly make at home myself. After a while, I just lost interest in ordering the chosen entrees.
Finally, we just decided to share the paninis. Cannot comment on the chicken Panini, but the vegetarian one was not what I expected. It had roasted vegetables – eggplants and peppers mostly, that fell out when you picked up the sandwich. As far as my experience with Paninis goes, it should be grilled with a nice crunch and there is loads of cheese that glues everything together. Although the bread was soft and fresh and it was a tasty sandwich, it did not satisfy the Panini cravings.
I don’t have a lot of photos because I lost all track of the camera when the hunger pangs took over. Bistro Oakwood Premier is a good place for a quiet lunch when you want to talk or just hang out with friends or family. Based on what I ordered, the pizzas are a safe bet. Ambience definitely gets more points than the food.
I would really like to see restaurants to be completely nonsmoking, even in their outdoor areas. Otherwise, what is the difference between a 5 star hotel and a college canteen, if you are subjected to second hand smoke from the adjoining table?