We were invited by Parth a.k.a Piyush Doijad to visit his place to attend a bloggers meet that he wanted to arrange. We were a bunch of bloggers who landed up at around 7:40 or so at Salute Bistro for a great evening. Salute is located near to the famous Dutta mandir in Viman Nagar and is over 4 months old now. Since we were expecting few more people to join us we started by clicking pics around and talking to Piyush to understand more about why and what is Salute all about. Salute although means a gesture of respect the team wanted to project it as toast to life, to new beginnings, to new friends.
A hotel management student himself Piyush had been a part of few ventures previously outside Pune, but wanted to start his own place in Pune so teamed up with his friend Vikrant Naidu who was the Chef at the new outlet. I believe that Vikrant must have been amazing chef looking at all the good ratings and crowd that this place managed to draw. Unfortunately Vikrant had to step out due to some personal reasons and hence the management and the chef have changed for the place. Well, that explains the extreme ratings that you might see for the place. The Chef (Tanish – a first year student at IIHM) is less seasoned but is certainly doing a good job with the menu they have to offer although a lot can be perfected. But still for a first year student he is pretty good at his job. More on that in just a bit.
Menu: Thunderbird (Kiwi, cranberry juice and kingfisher based), Kiwi pop, Virgin Mojito, French onion soup, Buhari chicken 65, Jalapeno cheese crackers, Nachos, Veg Lasagne, Chicken green hornet, Lemony pepper chicken, Honey glazed fish, Grilled fish with lemon butter sauce, Prawns marinara, Thai green curry with buttered rice, Lemon Tart and Caramel Custard.
We didn’t have a set menu for the night and Parth was open for anything on the menu so we ended up having a variety of dishes from nachos/ lasagna to soup to fish and prawns recipes and finally some desserts to take it to conclusion. We had three specials for the day and Parth had us try all the three viz. Chicken green hornet, Honey glazed fish and Thai green curry with buttered rice.
We started with mock tails – virgin mojito, kiwi pop and Thunderbird (Kiwi, cranberry and kingfisher). All of them were nice and refreshing. They were adequately sweet and chilled to kick start a great evening. We intended to try their French onion soup but sorry to say were greatly disappointed with what followed. Few quick tips like missing croutons, cheese (Cheddar usually) was also not to be seen (we could use it in the visible form and which also gives it a bit sour taste). The soup was made sour with the use of lemons which was a great turndown. All the recipes that used lemon were sourer than would suit the palette tips. Quick to follow were jalapeno cheese crackers and nachos. Nachos were drenched in liquid gooey cheese sprinkled with chili powder and coriander. Served warm; this balanced the show and quickly got the food journey on track. It was aptly crispy and thin to create just the right kind of crunch. I have had and loved jalapeno cheese poppers and jalapeno cheese crackers were a new dish for me. This one was made from mashed potatoes and beetroot and covered with rice crispier. This was lacking flavors and was a letdown. The contrasting soft and crispy textures were carried off well however I felt that cheese was mostly missing and also the mashed potato + beetroot stuffing could have used more flavors. A bland dish overall.
By this time we had our other fellow foodie bloggers join us on the table and we got engrossed in the talks. Except 1 the others were all non-veg lovers and as such the dishes were largely kept non veg with less of veg options comparatively. In non-veg starters they served is with Chicken green hornet, honey glazed fish and Buhari’s chicken 65. Basically a huge fan of chicken 65 I was quick to grab the plate with chicken 65 to try what this new recipe was all about. Parth told us that the original recipe was made famous by Mr. A.M Buhari of the Buhari Restaurant in Chennai in 1965 and that the Hyderbadi chicken 65 is just another variant of this original recipe. Not sure how the original recipe is meant to be but what I had was crispy golden brown chicken cubes served with lemon and sliced onions and a mild garnishing of coriander. The batter used itself had spices mixed and we couldn’t dig deeper with Parth on what went in but the Hyderabadi spicy variant is made up primarily of vinegar, curry leaved and tons of finely chopped garlic. The taste is basically brought with a combination and the way these ingredients are used. A sharp contrast to this the Buhari’s chicken 65 was high on meat, spices and kinda fried ones. They were pretty soft though so overall a very good starter. Could certainly have more of these. Honey glazed fish used basa and were absolute melt in the mouth types. My first impression was if all would find it too sweet but then considering the fact that it used honey it has to be on the sweeter side. But luckily it was garnished adequately to tone it down a bit and give a golden yellow melt in the mouth finishing touch. It had some broccoli to go along which was slightly contrasting but well received by the audience. Loved by all for sure. Chicken green hornet although a specialty of the day was a rather disappointing entry. Prepared in green chutney and sprinkled with fresh grounded pepper, this was rather a letdown mainly due to chewy morsels that it turned into. Now call it lack of marination or over charred in the tandoor but then the final dish was not able to win hearts.
Now came the winner for the night – Veg Lasagne. It was just pure bliss and hands down winner for the night. The cool quotient got bumped a few notches high because of the use of homemade Lasagne sheets that were paper thin and yet helped with the layering overall. The generous use of cheese and tomato gravy gave it its peculiar taste. Everyone around simply loved it and agreed it to be good enough to be called signature dish.
In the mains we had Lemony pepper chicken, Grilled fish with lemon butter sauce, Prawns marinara, Thai green curry with buttered rice and for desserts we finished up with Lemon Tart and Caramel Custard. Unfortunately for varied reasons 3 of us had to leave early and couldn’t stay back to taste all but just before leaving I could have a spoon full of grilled fish with lemon butter sauce and Lemony pepper chicken. I found the fish crispy and prepared to finesse and would prefer it over lemony pepper chicken. Both were served with small portions of buttered herbed rice which went really well with the cheesy, buttery, sour gravies. The texture of the gravies was really good and the cheese that went in made them too flavorful to resist.
Not sure why but we ended up having lot of lemon based sour dishes. A general recommendation here would be to tone down sour quotient by the use of lemon in all the preparations as it is overpowering the dish in most cases.
Missed on some awesome desserts that were served that night but enjoyed the evening to the fullest with amazing company and some lovely dishes to relish.
The service can be improved as it was taking time to present the dishes one after the other. But considering the fact that the Chef is a practicing student of IIHM the overall experience is much more than expected. So to sum it up although we started on a slow and poor note but we ended up having some really good dishes. Wishing all the very best to Chef Tanish and Parth for all their future endeavors.
Food: 3.5/5 (The average comes down keeping in mind everything that came onto table otherwise the food could easily be rated 4)