Name: Spice Kitchen, 24 Hour Multicuisine Restaurant
Location: JW Marriott, Senapati Bapat Marg, Pune
Date of Visit: 24th August, 2013 (Dinner Hour)
Cost of Buffet per person: Rs 950 (Plus taxes) as on date
Let me ask you a question, why do we go to 5 Star Hotel Restaurant for a meal? I think we opt for it because we expect the best of everything, ambience, service, taste and quality of food. Does Spice Kitchen fulfill these expectations? We Puneris love eating out and experimenting with food. Whether it is kaande pohe at a tapri or at a Multicuisine restaurant at JW Marriott, we are always searching for good food in the city. The JW Marriott has announced a Singapore and Malay festival this season. Last night Spice Kitchen at JW Marriott came under the radar of many Puneris, considering the restaurant was pretty full, and one of those diners was me.
Looking at what a crowd puller Spice Kitchen was on a Saturday evening, it is clear that the Puneri Diner does not mind 950 rupees (plus taxes) for a good buffet. The question, was the meal during this festival worth it? In a word, it lacked the ‘Wow!’ factor.
It is a spacious, well lit and nicely designed modern restaurant with a romantically lit outdoor seating area by the grill. The outdoor seating was what I would have gone for, had the wind been less chilly. Having worked in JW Marriott Mumbai and having dined at Shakahari and Alto Vino, I would say that the design of Spice Kitchen is weak in comparison to its other counter parts. Having said that, speciality restaurants nearly always steal the lime light when it comes to design. It is pleasant and comfortable for casual fine-dining.
The lay out, space and its division is well defined for serving such a range of cuisines in a 24-hour restaurant.
The Buffet was very well classified into the festival maincourse and appetizer section, the Indian starter and maincourse section, the cold buffet section, the outdoor grill section and festival live station, the continental section with Pizza and Shawarma live station and the dessert section. All cuisines were given adequate importance, while the festival dishes and the Indian selection dominated the buffet.
The seafood variety in the salads, the festival main course and the grills was ample. While chicken featured in all the cuisine selections, red meat dishes were few.
I understand the limitations of having a vegetarian selection in a South East Asian festival, however, with a little more enthusiasm, in terms of flair with flavours and some imagination, the vegetarian selection could have been far more impressive. The vegetarian dishes were limited, although in the Indian selection there were some regular options.
I am very disappointed that the dessert section did not even carry a single Malaysian or Singapore dessert. Traditionally these cuisines are not known for their desserts, however, such a festival is a great opportunity to showcase some new desserts with South East Asian flavours. I really missed a Chendol or a sago pudding. Puneris would love to come back for something like that.
There was no one dish, or two dishes that I would come back for. For this reason, the recollection value of this buffet was not high. The food quality and taste of most of the dishes was good. #TryOut the traditional Malayasian Canai Roti, which is somewhat similar to a Malabari Paratha, yet different because each of its paper thin layers are crisp and separated.
From the festival selection I particularly liked the Grill Live stations serving lamb and chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, marinated mackerel and sweet, lightly charred drumsticks. The squid dish in the non vegetarian main course had a dominating spicy flavour and was tender, perfectly cooked. Seafood lovers will enjoy this festival, there is a good variety of fresh, tender seafood in South East Asian sauces with spices that the Indian palate adores.
From the regular selection, I particularly liked the kandhari murgh starter, the squid salad and the lamb salad. There was a continental section, pizza and shawarma stations were a delicious addition to the selection.
Vegetarians, step back. If I were you, I would think twice before going in during this festival. Neither is the vegetarian selection wide nor is it impressive. While for starters there only some bland vegetable fritters aka pakoras with dipping sauce, the main carried two vegetarian preparations. The coconut cream based vegetable curry was bland, rather than delicately flavoured and the other preparation was tofu and assorted mushrooms in a spicy chili sauce which was only satisfactory. The vegetarian speciality restaurant in JW Marriott, Shakahari is also running this festival. A good idea for my vegetarian readers would be to try that instead.
In the regular buffet selection, the vegetable tikkis and the kadhi pakoda in main course were impressive.
Although the dessert section lacked any Malaysian dessert or fruit, or a Sinaporean speciality, the regular selection was attractive. The stuffed profiteroles were creamy, crunchy and delicious, none of the other desserts were extraordinary or go back for seconds. The Mango cream center sponge cake looked attractive but turned out to be too sweet.
The service was prompt and helpful. However, I am afraid I must draw a comparison once again, with Shakahari, JW Marriott’s Vegetarian specialty restaurant. (Read the review on this link https://foodmantras.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/phir-bhi-dil-hai-shakahari-shakahari-pune-marriott/ )
The Buffet service in Shakahari had the appetizers, cold buffet items and dessert laid out on the buffet, while the soup and main course was served warm on the table. There was a concised menu for main course and what you selected was brought to your table in entre dishes. I liked this style of service better than the food being laid out on the buffet more. Food sitting out on a hotplate and with lids off ever so often deteriorates the quality and taste of the food.
The well dressed stewards were pleasant and courteous, served us with a smile. The stewardesses seemed to have come from Singapore or South East Asia were dressed in Singaporean national dress, with bright printed skirts.
Value For Money
The prices of food items have consistently been going up, just like the cost of everything else. Maintaining such a wide range of cuisines, dishes coupled with the Grill selection and the live stations with good quality food is definitely justified at the price as on date. If you have a good appetite and are a seafood lover you will be able to justify the price you pay for this meal.
That Thing About This Place
Visit Spice kitchen for the wide variety and hospitable staff and lots of dessert. In this festival, look out for the traditional Malaysian Canai roti they have featured. On the minus side, I am not impressed with the festival selection especially lacking in traditional desserts for the festival.
Ambience: 3 Forks
Menu: 3 Forks
Food: 3 Forks
Service: 4 Forks
Value For Money: 4 Forks
That Thing About This Place: 2 Forks
Rating: 3 Forks