Euriska is the hot new restaurant on the block. Their Wednesday Comedy Nights, Santorini Afterglow Sundowner Specials on Sunday evening, Gig-A-Bite fridays are already the talk of the town. And the Greek menu is something that will tickle any foodie’s palate.
I have long been a fan of Greek food. I enjoyed gyros and souvlakis abundantly as a carnivore, and even after going vegetarian, Greek restaurants were my favorite weekend retreats.
So I was pretty excited to be invited for a menu tasting at Euriska. The red carpet was rolled out. Actually, I should say a blue carpet because you won’t find the color red anywhere in Euriska. Fashioned after the Greek island of Santorini, all the décor is white and blue. A particular kind of blue!
Now Santorini is a dream destination on any traveler’s wish list. Santorini is an island in the Aegean Sea and I remember pouring over Enid Blyton’s Ship of Adventure, a book set around the islands of the Aegean archipelago. And then of course, the Traveling Pants movie gave us plenty of eye candy of the shimmering blue sea and white houses set against a hillside in Greece.
Minute care has been taken in designing Euriska. Every small detail speaks for itself. Even the large windmill in the corner is representative of what you will find on Santorini. There are different seating areas, like the low slung couches at one end, a combination of rustic pillows to relax against, and an island bar that promises to provide a fountain of elixir.
I speak of ambience because it does play a hand in enjoying the food. But the highlight of this blog post is going to be the scrumptious food at Euriska, presented with flair by talented Executive Chef Ajay Thakur.
Euriska has a wood fired oven that is used to bake fresh bread and of course, make their famous wood fire oven pizzas. Euriska offers most of the mainstays of Greek cuisine like dolmades, spanakopita, gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, bastille, baklava etc. And of course, their pita bread is baked fresh on the premises!
I had checked out the menu and shortlisted certain items I wanted to taste, typical Greek dishes like Spanakopita and Moussaka. But Chef Ajay totally surprised us. He had planned an array of dishes for us to taste, and clearly, we needed to loosen our belts and settle down to a royal banquet of sorts.
I am going to write about the vegetarian food here, but you will be able to read all about the non-vegetarian goodies over at MovieRecipe, our new blog about food and entertainment which also covers non-vegetarian food. So enough already, let the fun begin!
A tall cold drink was in order, and I was eager to try Euriska’s drink menu which is vast! They even stock Dom Perignon in case you are celebrating some special occasion. Euriska has an island bar and skilled bartenders trained at The Lab in London. Here at last was a place where I could look forward to a well mixed martini.
Two cocktails that stood out for being different were the Santorini Sunrise and Zorba the Greek. Both are Euriska specialties and came highly recommended.
The Santorini Sunrise is made with fresh grapefruit juice, Campari bitters, honey and grapefruit chunks. I love my grapefruit, especially pink grapefruit. This is a bold concoction which combines two bitter flavors but still turns out to be refreshing. I think it provides a good contrast to the food.
Ouzo is a well known Greek liquor but I had not heard of Metaxas. Zorba the Greek is made with Metaxas shaken with fresh passion fruit, black currants and cranberry juice. The rich purple color is indicative of its deep flavor and as they say, when you are in Greece, go with Zorba the Greek!
While we were sipping and exclaiming over these drinks, Chef Ajay presented an array of appetizers. I remember being disappointed by the tablespoon of hummus doled out to me at the Oakwood Bistro. So this huge tasting platter whetted my taste buds and I was ready to dig in.
Please note: All the portion sizes and plating shown here may be different from the actual servings. These are smaller portions for tasting purposes, and many plates contain more than one item from the menu.
The vegetarian appetizers presented to me contained almost everything from the Appetizer menu.
A trio of dips contained the quintessential Greek items -Hummus, Tzatziki sauce and Melitzanosalata or eggplant salsa. Each of these was garnished with a sprig of a different herb – the hummus with cilantro, eggplant with thyme and tzatziki with mint. This tremendous attention to detail pleased me no end. It is the little things that separate the wheat from the chaff, in my opinion.
The hummus was just perfect with adequate amount of garlic, creaminess from tahini, tang from lemon and the flavor of EVOO or extra virgin olive oil. I am happy to say my hummus recipe tastes very much like this ;).
The melitzanosalata had roasted garlic and olive oil flavors mingling with the eggplant (brinjal).
Tzatziki!!! I hope the restaurants in Pune who serve MAYO with their falafel are listening to this. Tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt or hung curd, a little cucumber and a hint of mint. It is a thick, creamy dip which is a mainstay of Greek food, and is served with souvlakis, gyros, falafels, actually, anything.
Chef Ajay’s Tzatziki hit the spot. I kept eating this until the very end, trying to decode what made it so perfect.
Artichokes are hard to come by in Pune and are only available as an imported good for 3-4 times the price. So I admit I was totally stoked at the thought of trying out some stuffed artichokes. They are bite sized treats balancing the creamy artichoke with some salty cheese.
Dolmades or stuffed grape leaves are another Greek delicacy I haven’t tried in a while. I loved the dolmades at Euriska, stuffed with rice and veggies. They were light on the stuffing allowing you to actually savor the grape leaves.
Spanakopita, another Greek mainstay, are phyllo parcels stuffed with spinach, pine nuts and feta cheese. The phyllo pastry is used abundantly in Greek cuisine. The phyllo at Euriska is something to be experienced. Light, flaky yet not too greasy, the spanakopita had just enough phyllo to hold it together.
Tiropita is a similar phyllo pastry stuffed with cheese, and is a must try for folks new to Greek cuisine.
The Queen Olive Puffs were the perfect bite sized canapé. They had an olive with some stuffing wrapped around pastry. I could literally eat scores of these anytime. Kolokithikeftedes were round zucchini and feta fritters with perfect breading. Crispy on the outside, they had a creamy filling and center, another appetizer that is a winner.
I have never tried Haloumi, a hard cheese which I have read about a lot. I was expecting it to be salty but it wasn’t. Grilled Haloumi slices served on a bed of greens with sun dried tomato pesto are a hearty appetizer. The pesto adds the soul to this dish and it is worth trying.
I will let you read about the chicken/ seafood appetizers over at MovieRecipe.
After making some inroads into this giant appetizer platter, I was ready to try some more drinks.
The Pornstar Martini was touted as another Euriska favorite, and I went for it. Passion fruit puree and Euriska secret ingredients sounded good to me. I took a sip and I felt like I was in a Starburst commercial, or standing in a stadium with a whole cooler of Gatorade tipped over my head. It was just so Fresh!! I don’t know what the secret ingredients are, but I am betting there is something citrus there. This martini will make your senses sing. You will forget everything around you and go to a happy place. Really! It is that good!
It also helped that it reminded me of one my favorite cocktails at Indy’s iconic Palomino restaurant.
I wanted to try a nonalcoholic drink too and I chose Paradise, just for the name. Raspberry, passion fruit, apple and orange juice come together in this cheery deep pink drink. I loved that it came in a super tall glass and was strong enough that it maintained taste until the last sip. And it had loads of ice so I was happy.
Salads were next and I tried the beetroot, walnut and yogurt salad and the fruit and mixed berries salad. Both are refreshing and simply dressed, and are going to be good in the summer months.
The roasted mushroom soup is a must try for fungi lovers. The flavor is so intense, you guys!!! So intense it actually makes me say ‘You guys!!’ because I am speechless. Three types of mushrooms are used here and there were a few sautéed mushrooms too, adding a bit of texture. A special rusk is served with this, made with pistachios. The Greeks dunk this rusk in their soup, explained Chef Ajay.
My super solicitous server told me I simply had to try their sangria. I chose one with white wine and find I like it. White wine being lighter in flavor, it does not really over shadow the fruit. I find I prefer it better during the daytime and also with vegetarian fare.
Chef Ajay presented a big platter for my vegetarian main course. Vegetable Saganaki were veggies grilled on skewers, topped with a robust tomato based sauce and a little cheese. This was served over pumpkin risotto. The risotto was perfectly creamy and had a good consistency. Not runny and not dry. We all know that risotto is the death dish on Master Chef! The Euriska risotto was flavored with basil which lent freshness to the rich dish.
The attention to detail I mentioned above was shown here again in the form of the bread basket that appeared with the mains. Lavash, focaccia, and rolls provided a good assortment.
Bastille was a dish I tried for the first time, and I loved it. It features the famous phyllo that I have talked about earlier in this post. The bastille was a pouch made of pastry, served over tomato sauce. The pouch was filled with a minced veggie mixture that was just perfect! As a finishing touch, the bastille was topped with a dollop of cheese.
Well, I hope you are not tired of reading yet, because the best is yet to come. Such a fine meal has to be topped by dessert. And Chef Ajay managed to wow us there too. But by this time, it was expected!
Let me tell you about baklava – not to be confused with ‘balaclava’, that ski mask type thing worn by robbers in movies, currently being sported by two wheeler riders in Pune! What’s with that anyway?
Baklava is made with layers of phyllo pastry lined with nuts like pistachios, almonds etc. It is all baked together and poured with a honey syrup. The baklava at Euriska is made with 20 layers of phyllo pastry!! Everything just comes together to form this delectable sweet treat which melts in your mouth and has the right amount of crunch.
The white chocolate brownie was rich and topped with vanilla ice cream.
The mixed berry pannacotta was my favorite, and it is going to be something I have to control myself against. The pannacotta itself was beautifully set, and had the purplish hue hinting at blueberries. The mixed berry sauce was tart enough to cut through all the rich cream, and candied bits of citrus/ lemon added a nice surprise.
Euriska has a lot to offer both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, as you will gather from what I have written here and from the photos here and at MovieRecipe.
What I loved most about the food was the balance. Every dish had a great balance of flavors, and the spices and herbs were just perfect. As far as I can tell, nothing was localized, a concept I am not a fan of. Basic dishes like hummus, tzatziki, spanakopita, dolmades, baklava tasted like they should. Drinks were good sized.
Euriska has set the bar for authentic Greek or Mediterranean food in Pune. And they have a vast vegetarian menu giving plenty of choices to vegetarian folks. No wonder, really, since Greek food and the Mediterranean diet is well known for its abundance of fresh produce.
The next time you want to have a good meal out with friends and family, or want to try a different kind of cuisine, Euriska is the place to be. Actually, if I were you, I would be heading out the door right now!
Next to Koregaon Park Plaza, Koregaon Park Annexe , Pune, India 411036
Many thanks to the staff and management of Euriska, especially Chef Ajay Thakur for making this post possible.