Wine and dine under the stars

Hearty, soul-satisfying lunches and dinners are what we have always associated the Courtyard by Marriott, Pune City Centre with. Owing to their heartwarming service and consistent food and beverages, they have always impressed and we were not surprised that Evviva, their latest lounge-bar, does the same. It’s amazing how just the eighth floor picks you out of the dirt and grime of the surroundings and brings you closer to the stars. This chic lounge reminds you of the glittering gold globular bar, Sirocco in Bangkok, captured in the movie Hangover. Subtly segregated into high chairs, regular dining tables and lounge sofas, Evviva is a stylish place for those through with the head-banging of their early 20s. As the wind caresses your hair, the DJ’s new age music lifts up spirits, yet soft enough to have a normal conversation. The bar moves swiftly and silently to meet the lengthy wine and liquor list. Beer seems to be the favoured drink on most tables on a Monday evening. It’s got to be a neat cocktail for us, so we opted for a classic Margarita and a non-alcoholic beverage (Rs 600) for the partner.

It’s very rare that a mixed drink sans alcohol beats its more potent cousin in taste but, this one, with the sheer freshness of its ingredients, does. Not that there is anything amiss with our Margerita but, it’s a classic versus a novel flavour. Evviva’s menu has been thought through with care. Not ften, after a couple of drinks, do we wish to stay back for dinner.  But Evviva has something for everyone and hence offers small eats as well as a basic dinner menu. It’s a mélange of popular Indian, even more popular Italian and some American dishes whisked in. Spiking off on a hungry stomach isn’t a good idea, so we went for a big one. Mini Beef Burgers (Rs 400) came in three slider variants — a gorgeous, juicy ground beef patty that does the American burger proud; a gourmet duck liver caviar for the epicurean eagles and a sweet caramalised onion beef burger for those who enjoy a touch of veggies with their meat. 

We nibbled along happily watching the lights below gradually switch off, one by one, as the city prepares for yet another night of slumber. Our server gently prodded us for the mains but, the environment was so relaxing that we kept pushing it. Finally, it was time to accept our order. A pretty plate of papad delicately tip-toeing between a bowl of pickle and a bowl of onions, arrived.

The bar area

That was quickly followed by our Makai Ka Saag (Rs 450 ). Dark green and dotted with shiny pearls of bright yellow corn, it was a self-sufficing portion of home-style goodness. We wrapped the light morsels into thick chunks of Missi Roti (Rs 80) and we were assured a serene night’s sleep.

On the other hand, our Seafood Risotto (Rs 650) was a huge portion. We heaped it onto our plate and couldn’t stop spooning it in. Creamy with an unusual crunch of fried prawns and squid, we added a dash of freshly ground pepper for the perfect bite.

A mocktail

While our stomach signaled that we were quite done for the night, our tastebuds wanted to polish off the bowl of risotto. We fought along for a few more spoonfuls. Finally, the mind won but, greed gave it a tough fight, asking for a doggy-bag.
We would have loved to linger over a dessert as youngsters upped the volume with beer glasses and laughter ringing in the night air but, content tummies and relaxed senses sent furtive signals to our eyelids. Still, our warm and attentive server brought over a surprise. The Cassata Siciliana (Rs 350 ) came complimentary and we just couldnt refuse. Unfortunately, we don’t think much of the angel food cake boxed into a chocolate mould.

These are small gestures that we’ve always been touched by at this property and Evviva lived up to the image. Evviva already seems to have its niche patronage sorted out — young corporates looking for a stylish lounge to relax as well as dine and couples who need a romantic evening away from work. Come in early and watch the stars rise, linger on over classic drinks and stay back for a rejuvenating dinner.

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