Name: Out of The Blue
Location: E-Square, Shivajinagar, Pune
Date of Visit: 26th September, 2012 (Lunch hour) (Review on Invitation)
What women want? While all of mankind is still struggling to answer this question, OTB attempts to answer it with its W-Day buffet. Did they succeed? You men, already know that you can never succeed in completely satisfying women but this is a good beginning. Firstly, it’s just a day dedicated to women. We would prefer it if the entire week was dedicated to us, but we’ll make do with a special day.
Since the W-Day buffet celebrates women and is designed for them, I am going to talk about it from a lady’s perspective rather than a neutral point of view.
The Concept and has it succeeded
Dedicating Wednesday to women is becoming a common and successful trend. With an offer like this it takes off the edge of mid-week-crisis for men and women, whoever cares to visit. I like to call it ‘The kitty party’ concept. This is a 5 course buffet meal that costs Rs 395 inclusive of taxes as on date. The buffet includes a non-alcoholic beverage, a soup, variety of salads laid out, dips and bread, a cheese platter, live counter, main course and a dessert buffet.
On the Plus Side
This is a reasonable buffet for the location, ambience, quality of food they offer and the variety that is available. To be clear this is not like a “Shaadi” style buffet, wherein vegetarian, non-vegetarian Indian, Chinese and what is known as “Conti” dishes are laid in a long line with a naan counter. This buffet offers a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads, dips and bread, a cheese platter, a live counter as well as dessert that is laid out on the buffet table.
The main course selection includes sizzlers, pastas and BBQ dishes to choose from. These are not laid out on the buffet but freshly prepared and brought to your table plated like an a la carte meal. There are two reasons I liked this arrangement. The first being that the food does not sit out for hours on the buffet losing the freshness and getting overcooked as well. The second reason is that food wastage is minimum. You may have noticed people heaping up their plates with mutton, chicken, paneer all together with hakka noodles and stir fry vegetables on their plate, that they can no longer tell the dishes apart. Not only do diners end up wasting food on their plate but also there is more leftover in the kitchen. Freshly prepared dishes are brought to the table; however, portion size is comparatively smaller than that in an a la carte meal.
On The Minus Side
5 out of 10 Indian women are vegetarians. My mother’s kitty party friends come from well-to-do Vegetarian families and they meet each week for chitchat and their weekly gossip dose. The question that comes to my head is, will they like the OTB W-Day buffet? Although the selection offered to vegetarians is not limited and holds 50% weightage, the dishes that are offered are not very appealing. Not only does their description hold little promise but also two of the veggie salads that I tried and the vegetarian main course we ordered were disappointing. I think OTB should improve the taste of their currently available vegetarian dishes and also must include a few more promising and delicious vegetarian items to the main course. In my opinion the buffet did not do justice to the vegetarians.
What’s in it for Women?
The W-day buffet has some added attractions including a lucky draw with vouchers to be won. They also have an astrologer, palm reader and face reader. On request, kitty party games for groups can be organized as well.
Menu, courses and selection
There was a vegetarian soup, 4 different types of dips with assorted bread. Although the dips offered were impressive, the selection of breads offered can be improved. There were 6 or 7 different types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads. Cheese Platter offered only two types of cheese namely emmenthal and cheddar slices along with inadequate accompaniments.
The Sushi live counter was impressive considering that it is hard to find sushi places in Pune in the first place. Although there was one vegetarian, a prawn and a chicken maki roll n California roll variety of sushi; this counter was unique and impressive in our city. It’s also a good place for an affordable experiment for those who haven’t tried sushi. They have a different live counter every Wednesday such as a Thai counter or a pasta counter.
For main course you can choose between a sizzler, pasta or a BBQ dish. Each of these offers 2 or 3 options. The selection of Pasta selection was limited. Pasta has become a safe choice for most of the Indian diners, a white sauce pasta and a tomato pasta doesn’t do it for me when there is no pasta live counter. I would’ve preferred to have few more promising pasta options on the menu.
There were merely 4 or 5 desserts on the buffet. This is disappointing for a sweet tooth. Many diners I know look forward to the dessert buffet and expect a good variety offered on the buffet. A chocolate gateau, a cheesecake, swiss roll and mousse is not enough.
The soup of the day was light and average in taste.
The Aioli Dip, hummus and the petit pois dip were great. The petit pois dip was unique and refreshing change from regular dips, it was slightly tangy and really worked together with those breads for me. The moho dip was good too, though not great.
The Ploughman’s Salad and Seafood Papaya Salad were delisious. The Chicken Sausage salad was good too. However, the smoked cauliflower salad for the vegetarians was bland and unapppetising. Tandoori paneer salad was decent but not great, although a little tang in it would have made it zingy and perfect.
Sushi – the maki and California rolls were decent but not made with raw fish. There were shredded chicken and fried prawn rolls along with the vegetarian one. Since sushi wasn’t the main attraction but an added attraction, it worked. I think it is acceptable to use cooked prawns in place of raw fish if good quality fish is unavailable.
I will begin with my order of Lemon Sauce Chicken, which is also listed as one of the house favourites on the menu. Ordering the house favourite is more or less a safe choice. The taste of the house favourite also sets the bar for the rest of the menu. If they can’t make the house favourite finger licking good then there isn’t much promise in the other dishes either. This chicken dish was delicious and the sauce was finger licking good. They use a boneless piece of leg in this dish making it far more juicy and flavourful than preparations using boneless breast. The ala carte portion size of this dish includes a leg and a breast however, for the buffet a single piece of leg was served with a side of grilled vegetables and very lumpy mashed potatoes.
The filet of Basa with Asian pesto sauce was creamy and yummy too. Basa is becoming increasingly popular with restaurants in the city for good reason. It was a good quality, fresh tasting fillet with pesto and creamy sauce. I hardly think any chef can go wrong with
The vegetarian cutlet sizzler was a disappointment. After the salads when I tasted the mediocre vegetarian sizzler, it made me think that this W-Day buffets needs work when it comes to their vegetarian selection. The patty was bland, soggy and the vegetables in it were not appetising. It was confusing, was it overcooked cabbage or something else. Perhaps a little more potato would hold this dish together, but something was definitely off. The patty around which the rest of the sizzler revolved, did not have enough character to make it a good dish.
The lemon cheesecake and death by chocolate made it a satisfactory desserts buffet. The papaya mousse however, was too heavy, creamy and dense to appeal to my palate.
About a month ago when I had reviewed OTB Pune for the first time on my father’s birthday for an ala carte evening meal, the server’s lack of knowledge had disappointed me. He was unaware of the wines available that evening or the ones that would go well with our fondue.
This time however, since the review was on invitation, the service was far better. Although another error in service makes me assert that OTB Pune staff must learn more about their wines, dishes, and what they look like.
Siddharth ordered a vegetarian sizzler while Tanzif had asked for a chicken sizzler. Our server assumed that both the sizzlers he had brought from the kitchen were chicken sizzlers. He offered to bring the correct order. Since, both Siddharth and Tanzif are non-vegetarians they asked him to serve it anyway. In reality, it wasn’t a mix up from the kitchen. Our server could not tell the vegetarian sizzler from the non-vegetarian sizzler. He ended up serving the wrong sizzler to the wrong person without realizing they were different sizzlers. It is important for the service staff to be able to identify a vegetarian from a non-vegetarian sizzler. It can be difficult to tell them apart with all that sauce. I suggest the kitchen staff add a signature ingredient on the vegetarian sizzler, as a sign, so it is easier to tell them apart.
Value for Money
With few appetising vegetarian dishes and a limited selection of desserts, the value for money for a vegetarian is not up to the mark. Having said that, good quality food, an interesting variety of items and the location of OTB makes it worth it. The non-vegetarian sizzlers and BBQ dishes that we tried were all delicious. Had there been some creamy pesto or risottos in the pasta selection this course would have been a fun choice too.
That thing about this buffet is that it is a breath of fresh air for a weekday buffet. Aren’t you bored of having the same old Indian, chinese and ‘conti’ buffets all the time? OTB buffet has quite the edge when it comes to cuisine. They also serve a la carte dishes on Wednesday afternoon as well, in case you wish to spend the afternoon with wine, fondue over saucy gossip. This buffet can be a perfect lunch hour meal for working women or a way for women to relax and unwind for a couple of hours while their men and children are away.
Ambience: 7/ 10 Good
Value For Money: 7/ 10 Good
Menu: 7/ 10 Good
Food: 7/ 10 Good
Service: 6/ 10 Average
That Thing About This Place: 7/ 10 Good
Good Ambience + Good Value for Money + Good Menu + Good Food + Average Service + Good That Thing About This Place= Good
Rating: 7/ 10