Walking into the new Conrad Hotel on Mangaldas Road can be a little intimidating at first. Once you get past the super-high ceilings and sprawling square footage, it can actually be quite a comfortable place to settle in to. A little further past the casual seating area and down a wide flight of marble steps, is Coriander Kitchen.
Coriander Kitchen at the Conrad, Pune
One of six eating venues at the Conrad, Coriander Kitchen offers all-day casual dining and features a multi-cuisine menu. I love the fact that one entire wall is made of glass, flooding the space with natural light and offering a softer look into an outdoor water-scape. Facing the huge glass wall is a similarly large bookcase, except instead of books, most of the shelves are stacked with prepared food.
Hot and cold sections, vegetarian and non-vegetarian and some very pretty dishes make up Coriander Kitchen’s ‘Food Library’ and it’s certainly unlike anything I’ve seen at a restaurant in this city, before. Also true to the ‘Kitchen’ half of the name, there are several mini-kitchens in the setup, each station focusing on a different dish or cuisine. With a menu spanning Asian, Indian, Italian and Continental, there’s something for everyone at Coriander Kitchen.
I hate buffet spreads as a rule, because I’ve almost never (with a handful of exceptions) eaten really good food that has been produced in a mass quantity or on-the-go (read: live stations). My lunch at Coriander Kitchen was by invitation, and so I knew I was going to receive preferential treatment, but I really wasn’t expecting to like the food as much as I did (because even fancy five-star hotels in this city don’t always get it right), and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Since I had been eating salad at every meal for two weeks straight before this one, I completely ignored the salad bar and went straight to the live chaat-counter. We ordered a plate of Sev Puri and Pani Puri and I’m thrilled to report that the latter was just as spicy and tasty as the fresh-off-the-street-cart kind. Yum!
Coriander Kitchen has a massive oven in which they bake their Pizzas, as well as made-to-order Pita bread. Dressed with a drizzle of unfiltered EVOO (some of the best olive oil I’ve tasted outside of Italy), the fluffy little clouds of Pita were exactly what the doctor ordered. I was happy to eat it plain, and even happier to try it stuffed with Falafel, hummus, sumac, lettuce, onion, pickled cucumber and served à la bao. Delicious. Definitely making a second visit for that!
Executive Chef Mandar Madav also joined us for lunch, and suggested we try the Quinoa Chaat with soya chips (since I was on a health spree that clearly went out the window) which was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The softness of the quinoa with tangy chutneys against the crunchy soya chips made for some fun munching.
The Lamb Galouti Kebabs were absolutely smashing. Superbly soft and spiced, served on a sliver of soft, flaky roti; my mouth is watering now just thinking of them.
The Ragi Dosa was another healthy alternative to the usual Dosa, not as blonde and crispy but nonetheless palatable. Paired with three coconut-based chutneys – yogurt, coriander and jaggery-ginger – it was delicious enough for me to order seconds (without feeling guilty at ALL).
Coriander Kitchen also grows their own herbs and micro-greens, some of whose pots even feature at their live stations. Fresh herbs can elevate anything, and having a mini Pizza a la Diavola (read: Pepperoni and chili flakes) right out of the oven, topped with Oregano was a highlight not a lot of pizzerias can boast of.
What really knocked my socks off, was their Thai Green Curry. I’m strictly a Red Curry girl, and I was NOT prepared for the beautiful curry that graced the table. A deceptively pale shade of green, the curry was made with peas, aubergines and sweet basil. The spice in the curry was the kind that sneaks up on you – a gentle warmth that spreads from the back of your throat across your tongue, once you swallow that first mouthful of curry and rice. I absolutely loved this dish and would be quite happy to eat it again.
For dessert, we tried their Paan Ice Cream – again, really not my kind of flavours, but I had a tiny taste and though I still don’t prefer the taste of Paan (in general), it’s a lovely option for people who do. Their Filter Coffee Ice Cream with a milk foam is nothing short of genius. Both ice creams are made in-house. To end the meal, I tried an Orange Crême Brulée served with jasmine biscotti, from Koji’s menu.
All in all, I really enjoyed the food and was quite happy that there were healthy alternatives that didn’t taste like cardboard. Coriander Kitchen has recently also started a Sunday brunch that I’m keen to check out. It’s a place I’d be happy to take my family for a meal.
Stay tuned to my Instagram & Snapchat: blehlovesfood for more updates.