My first interaction with the Hemant Sir was at the PEO meet at Euriska wherein I came to know about his potion lab located in the by lanes of Paud road. No sooner did I hear the concept of his first stew restaurant of India than I was tempted to visit the place and had promised him that I will be visiting soon enough. Hardly a few days later I was startled to see Pratik and Hemant at my office canteen putting up a small stall for the special Friday. He had limited variety then from amongst the Chicken Peri Peri, the Hungarian goulash and American Gumbo and being a spicy food lover I naturally opted for the peri peri. It was so damn amazing and although a chicken dish you tend to forget about the chicken skewers floating in the stew once you have the first bite of buttered garlic bread drenched in one of the stews. The taste buds literally give you a standing ovation for treating them so well. I had that and since then I was waiting eagerly to make a trip down to his outlet to try other variants. Me and my foodie gang were tempted by the idea of a food trail which we planned on the fateful day and off we went to Stew art (the before and the after parts in another review; but for now let’s get to the stew art part).
The place is really ringing the right bells and has been talk of the town for long. Pune foodies simply have to visit this place and all of them can swear by the experience I am pretty confident. The outlet has already featured on NDTV Good time’s food show (hosted by Rocky and Mayur). Once there I also happened to meet the better half of Hemant sir – his partner in crime Sayali. The place has few tables inside the premises and another few laid outside in open. Since the number of tables is not too many I would recommend booking a table in advance to avoid any disappointment. Without wasting any more time we got onto the feasting part. We were 6 people and decided to order a wide variety so we get to taste as much possible. Peri peri being one of their hits had to be ordered without a second thought. Our final order looked something like this:
Honey roast chicken, Jerk Spiced Chicken, Spicy mushrooms (2), Hungarian Goulash, Herb Chicken Stroganoff, Piri piri, Stufato Di Erbe, Ladera Apo Greek and a Stewneri.
I had ordered Stufato in mutton but the chef got confused and turned it into chicken preparation instead. But that doesn’t mean it was one bit of a disappointment. Surprisingly that day all the 6 of us were coherent and unanimous when choosing the most and the least preferred dish for the night.
The honey roast chicken I had ordered for my kiddo but unfortunately he couldn’t taste one bit as the other 6 pounced on it the moment it hit the table. It was perfectly sweetened and adequately roasted, and had a contrasting spicy tinge in the end. Perfect way to cleanse the palette and prepare for the mains. Next we had Jerk spiced chicken which had the Jamaican jerk seasoning. I am told that like authentic recipe even this one needs to be marinated overnight. So yes it had to turn out pretty good, little choice there, right? It was pretty good but since there were even more fabulous things up ahead I would rate it (comparatively) average for now. The mushrooms were ordered on demand from Maanas as he had had those previously and found them to be really good. They were indeed with the generous pour of olive oil that they were cooked in. The extra virgin olive oil used and plated brought in a different taste to the dish with the wholesome golden brown garlics that went in. The garlics and the herb used gave the mushrooms a very mild, subtle taste in addition to the charred taste that came from the crispy brown garlics. The only complaint was that the quantity served was very less and it was more like half a dish rather than a full-fledged dish. As such we even ended up ordering two portions of it, if you noticed. That’s about it for starters for next came in the mains which were too good to share and yet we had to share it within the 6 of us… what a pity….(next time no food trails to such amazing places 😉 or even if there is one, I won’t share my dish with anyone. Get yourself a separate one — for the last time — JOEY DOESN”T SHARE FOOD !! :D)
Mains: Each one of us ordered what he found most appealing to his taste buds but the winner had to be my choice.
Hungarian goulash: A recipe which is somewhat in between a soup and a stew, a goulash is a thick broth which uses paprika as key ingredient. This European recipe is sure to win hearts and is one of the most sought after at the place. This would stand to be 2nd in position. (Rating 8.5/10)
Herb chicken Stroganoff: this came next and being slightly spicy should be preferred by people who are fond of spicy broths. This stew made use of mushrooms sauce and the chicken chunks were grilled slowly with herbed coating. These chicken chunks gave a very contrasting taste to the stew which was slightly spicy. (3rd of the lot. Rating 8/10)
Piri Piri: marked as their spiciest variant, you won’t like this unless you like it burning. Since I do I had no problem with this one. A Portuguese recipe and an African popular sauce this one makes use of variants of peppers like poblano peppers, jalapeno peppers, red pepper flakes and yes lots of freshly grounded pepper. The heat levels as you can imagine by now are sure to scale some heights. Some people with acidity problems stay away and other foodies order one right away. (I would rate this 5th in our order for that day it was actually even better when I had it in my office. Rating 6.5/10)
Ladera Apo Greek came in next which was a reunion of veggies. An oregano flavored stew this had tons of stir fried veggies making their way in. Apart from the regular veggies you had pieces of zucchini, carrot and baby corn making the stew a rather thick broth. Loved by most this would be rated 4th in the batch. (Rating 7.5/10)
The stew Neri is rather a new addition to the menu and they had tried hand at making a desi stew, but unfortunately everyone turned it down as it failed to qualify as a stew. The texture and broth feeling was largely missing and as such this was the only let down for the evening. I would rate it a 4/10.
Step aside and make way for the winner of the night – The Stufato Di Erbe. Classic recipe and even more beautifully brewed. The flavors were so delicate – yes delicate…very mild, subtle and arousing. Like is said earlier I had ordered the mutton variant but bcoz of a minor slip we ended up with a chicken variant but none the less it was an absolute LEGENNNNN…..wait for it wait for it….DARRRRY……Just too good to describe and a simpy must have when you go there. When we declared this to Hemant he went on to admit that this was one of the recipes that they had perfected with lot of patience and perseverance. This might not be most sought after but certainly is the one that people swear by. That night was no different when all the 6 of us went Ga—ga over the stew. Definitely a star attraction. I rate it a 9.5/10.
The herbed rice that is served is merely an addition and the garlic bread is what you savor the dish with. Two garlic bread might not be enough to relish the stew but you can always get them called in for as sides. Now this part of review comes from my wife’s comments as she gave her feedback to Hemant and Sayali….The chicken used is the best of quality, white, soft succulent and if grilled just enough to change the outer texture and not make it one bit chewy or dry. The moisture and softness is retained with any and every dish that it goes in. The chicken chunks are rightly sized and just enough in number to enjoy as a munch-on as the stew is what the dish is all about.
The place is just a perfect hangout and the company from Hemant and Sayali makes it even more homely. They play the perfect hosts. I wish them all the very best to open even bigger outlets and possibly on this side of the city. 😉
Ohh and before I forget they have a special tie up with Café de custard – Pratik’s place which is just a walk away wherein they give a discount of 10% if you show the bill form stew art. Also if you go there stew art offers some discount too same about 10% I guess. Good scheme of things.
More about Café de custard in my next review….
But to sum up my experience at stew art; I would say it was nothing less than amazing with foodies, fun, chatter, perfect hosts and some of the best stews I have ever had. This place is sure to get a place in my top 10.
Service: 3.5/5 (That day staff was missing so I will have to deduct some there but hospitality wise it scores 4.5)
Value for money: 4/5