Reviewed by B.Shankaranarayan
The Central Park, Bund Garden Road.
Ph: 020 40104000
Timings: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm & 7:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Map: Click Here
Zanzibar – one of Pune’s also-rans on the pub/bar circuit has hit the public eye with its Caipiroska Nites. In the absence of Brazilian Cachaca, Zanzibar uses Smirnoff. What caught my eye was their claim that their Caipiroskas come in 5-6 flavours. I wondered how they’d do that because the original is so simple that anything else would be ruining a good drink. But since the hotel and Smirnoff were throwing good money to promote it, we five decided to give it a try. Exotic name, exotic in your face ads (Triton, Pune), exotic drinks. We were pumped up to have a wild time. Visions of pulsating samba music, psychedelic lights, Brazilian Mardi Gras dance videos projected on the wall. We walked in and well………… Two waiters dressed in leafy design shirts, a barman at the counter and a couple engrossed in conversation. Hmmm. The only thing remotely Zanzibari was the black tiled floor with a layout which could remind you of a Zebra if you used your imagination. Are there Zebras in Zanzibar??
Caipiroska came in 5 types. We played KBC (Kaun Bolay Caipiroska). Our intelligence was severley tested. Guess what was C.Screwdriver? C. Margarita? C.Pineapple? and so on. Down to the basics – Vodka, green lime, the flavour (tinned Noga OJ & PJ,bottled Mala’s crushed strawberries in syrup), fresh Mausambi (coz no one’s bottled it yet) etc. Add lots of ice. Shaken well to fill a tall beer (pilsner) glass. The drinks were definitely well made but when you put in 50ml of Vodka into 200ml of ice and sweetened juices, what you’ve got is a tall watery cocktail. The three women in the group opined it would fit into a soft drink slot. Still, to give the devil its due, the drinks were light and refreshing. Not cloying sweet or over fizzy. Barman Srinivas keeps a well laid out counter. Gleaming stainless steel counter with ice storage basket but does not use tongs or scoops. Bare hands handle the ice cubes. Tsk,tsk.
The snacks part of the promo deserves kudos. The desi ‘vol au vent’ of khari topped with melting cheese and served hot was excellent. Very inventive. The veggie pakodas came in thin Tempura like crispy covers with a creamy mustard sauce. The sheek kebabs stuffed with cheese had a crispy outer skin. Superlative. The spring rolls were disappointing. The kadak nan with Baba Ganoush & Hummus (Middle Eastern) dip was acceptable though they could have served 2 instead of just one nan.
A DJ was spotted lurking around and he marked his attendance by increasing the volume. A wave of the hands and the volume reduced. All said and done, Zanzibar is a small and cozy place to spend an evening in. A group of ten and you have your own exclusive den.
Time after Time is the adjoining restaurant connected by a sliding wall. We moved there for dinner. Chef Mehboob cooked up a tasty well made meal. Stuffed potato skins, chicken Parmigiana with spaghetti, Chinese diced chicken etc. His crepe with creamy chocolate fudge and an orange cream topping was very good. Good enough to want to go back there for a meal.
For a real vodka Caipirinha, take a green lime (greener the better), dice it into 8 pieces and place them in a wide mouthed short glass. Add a heaped teaspoon of sugar. Use a wooden muddler or convex side of a tablespoon and muddle lime with sugar so that the lemon oil oozes out. Do not apply too much pressure. Some of the sugar will dissolve and there’ll be lemon juice all over. Now add 8 or more ice cubes and then slowly pour 60 ml of vodka. Stir gently. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes. Sip slowly from the top. Do not use straw. Enjoy. As time progresses, the drink will become sweeter. When it loses its edge, it’s time to make another. Do not refill the glass, the lime’s pith will make it very bitter. Make a fresh one.