What's so Irish about it?
Pune's third micro-brewery, Irish Village, has a lot of catching up to do with its competitors, and also prove worthy of its name
Mundhwa Road in Koregaon Park Annexe has seen several major eateries shut shop while earthier ones have thrived. We are not sure which category does Irish Village fall under, but on the Thursday night we visited the eatery, it seemed to be filled with a motley crowd. There were kids playing table tennis in the main dining area overlooking the brewery, 20 to 40-year-olds chilling with friends and family, and some senior ladies dressed in saris calling it a night out in the outdoor gazebos.
Pune’s third micro-brewery is a family affair, just like their menu. With only two of the four in-house brews available, the rest of the bar menu is filled with regular alcoholic concoctions. The menu too encompasses safe family meals: kebabs, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, pasta and Indian cuisine. And just so the critical lot doesn’t whine too loudly, there are a few Irish specialties sprinkled in. Unfortunately, we did whine, and for a good reason. Of the two available beers -- a dark Stout O’ Sullivan and a Wheat O’ Mullins -- we settled for the Wheat, and a Trojan Horse (Rs 180 each) and a Stout and Cola cocktail (Rs 225).
The former was perfect; just the right blend of wheat and malted barley served at a perfect temperature. We can’t say the same for the cocktail, though. Served in a tall glass with a curly straw (fancy drinking beer with a straw?), it made for a nice blend and we wished to enjoy it. However, it seemed to have been put together with room temperature cola. So, we requested our server to replace it. The glass was haughtily whisked away.
It re-appeared this time chilled, but there was barely any beer. Proof: No froth on top. Still, we took a few sips until we couldn’t bear it anymore. It seemed as if they had thrown away half the drink, and filled the glass back with chilled cola. We asked for another replacement. After some heated conversation, the glass was whisked away. Finally, a fresh drink arrived. This time it was perfect.
For starters, we had a Chick in a Blanket (Rs 225), which consisted of salami wrapped chunks of chicken sausage. While it was a nice drinking companion, a better quality of the cured meats and faster service could have lifted the dish from an average to exceptional bar fare. The Beetroot Carpaccio (Rs 160) we ordered was dressed in balsamic with lettuce, rocket and little granules of feta and made a healthier option as compared other deep-fried bar food.
By this time, our glasses were empty, and so were our tummies. But since there were not many soul-warming Irish meals on the menu, we settled for what we could. The token Irish Village Stew (Rs 300) arrived lukewarm. Its fast-cooling temperature was a put-off for what might have been a wholesome meal of stewed mutton. Nonetheless, it was done well enough to mop up every last morsel with the bread that accompanied it.
The Sumac Crusted Grilled Chicken (Rs 300), that my partner on a Paleolithic diet settled for, was quite delicious. Though, again it was almost cold. The tartness of the chicken’s crust went well with the smooth Irish colcannon potatoes (mashed potatoes with cabbage). Irish Village sits on a sprawling property. It boasts of an air-conditioned lobby facing the back of the brewery, huge bar and restaurant area, and an al fresco seating. Its fun vibe does it good. But they can definitely take their food up several notches. And for a place that levies service charges, we definitely expect a server in a good mood.
At: Mundhwa Road, ahead of Westin hotel.