Prem’s in Koregaon Park has been a popular place for decades. It is your friendly neighborhood restaurant, tucked away from the traffic and bustle of the now busy North Main Road. With a leafy canopy of old trees, surrounded by apartment buildings, you can get a detached feeling and forget you are in a city like Pune.
Prem’s is open air which means a summer afternoon is not the best choice to visit. But the place was bustling and almost all tables were full. I was there to check the place out and make some dents in their menu.
Cold icy drinks were called for, and I tried the Jager Mojito. I am generally not a fan of the mojito, but even I will admit that it is a good choice in summer. The fresh mint is refreshing and the liquer added some tones of liquorice and spices.
The Zaffrani Peshkash was mildly spiced and had tones of saffron as expected. It also had fresh pineapple which made me happy. The paneer appetizer was served with coleslaw which was different from the usual onion relish served with tikka type dishes. Perhaps it is an indication of how popular coleslaw has become in Pune.
The potato jalapeno cheese sticks were as expected. Crispy from the outside, they were served with a paprika mayo. The jalapeno hits you at the second or third bite and adds a kick.
The Creole Cottage cheese is the dish of choice for those who love heat. Coated with herbs and red pepper flakes, it was served with a garlic aioli. The rosemary and thyme coating provided the expected flavors here.
Prem’s is also known for their sizzlers and we tried a Paneer Shashlik. This has to be the most popular sizzler dish in Pune, and I have tried it in tons of places. Almost every place does a different take on the sizzler. Zamu’s has their version, so has The Place, and my latest favorite sizzler joint, Post 91 has theirs. The Paneer Shashlik here was made in a tangy sauce, and the paneer literally melted in the mouth. I thought the Zaffrani Peshkash had really soft paneer, but the shashlik outdid it. Vegetables like broccoli and carrots were smothered in butter and well seasoned. I soon began to feel drowsy.
Shahajani Veg were mixed vegetables in a creamy yet spicy sauce. I liked that the gravy was sweetish but still had heat and spice. Fresh tandoori rotis made with wheat were the right utensil to scoop up this saucy vegetable dish.
I had heard a lot of the banofee pie at Prem’s and it did not disappoint. Banana fans will love the intense flavor that is packed in this slice of pie. The Shahi Tukda was not submerged in syrup or milk – a thick rabdi like sauce was spooned on top. I liked that I was able to taste both the tukda and the sauce separately.
One of the things I was not too fond of were the incense sticks burning in pots and the fact that this place allows smoking. I really wish that patios and open air restaurants in Pune enforce a nonsmoking policy. No one wants to be subjected to second hand smoke, especially when they are out to enjoy themselves with their family.
Prem’s offers a mean breakfast or brunch menu too. Pancakes, waffles and various types of eggs Benedict are offered and they are sure to please diverse tastes within a family.
It is hard to find a place in KP that has casual ambience and serves Punjabi or North Indian food. Yellow Chili, one of my favorites, has closed down. But Prem’s is like the secret only locals know about.
Check it out if you haven’t been there yet. If you are a foodie in Pune, its like a rite of passage or something.