Panayaa, which means astonishing in Sanskrit, is a new addition to the vibrant restaurant scene in the Kalyani Nagar area of Pune. It is the vegetarian brand’s second opening after two years, its first outpost being in Mumbai. Let’s see how the brand managed to transition cities.
The very gimmicky ‘Nitro Stick’ came us in a bowl full of smoke caused by liquid nitrogen and they called it the amuse bouche. This ended up being a tiny piece of grissini frozen with liquid nitrogen! After that pitiful start, the Badami Shorba with Birista was a reprieve and everything else went up in smoke here on. The audacious and commendable attempt of making a Carrot and Basil Kebab didn’t leave a mark, and the Malai Broccoli tended towards a dessert course. It was Rabdi Broccoli, quite literally. The Roomali Roti Seekh Kebab happened to be a deep-fried spring roll like version with a stuffing that left everything to imagination.
We avoided dessert based on the evening’s experience coupled with the explanation by the servers. Not to forget the Boondi Raita Sphere, that came in somewhere in the middle of the meal, the sweetened doi or curd was great but the skin of the sphere made using molecular techniques was chewy and thick. We skipped drinks as they aren’t serving any alcohol.
The ambience is great and for a stand-alone it exudes luxury along with space. The wood and shades of brown on the walls, furniture and upholstery complimented by the warm glow of incandescent lighting makes it a perfect place for a quite romantic dinner.
Panayaa is a great concept envisioned to offer the diners a taste of modern Indian cuisine and they do it right in terms of the space and the ambience. The food disappoints right from the frozen lip-numbing grissini. Unnecessary use of liquid nitrogen, deconstruction or changing form of a dish to only let it down and lack of focus on taste is something that needs to be looked into. It is a 2 on 5 on food for us. The Shorba saved the day!
Ajit Balgi is a wine connoisseur and founder of The Happy High. Images from restauraunt's Facebook page.
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