Do you love fantasy? I ask this because the review you are up next for is for a place that has come out straight out of a story book. Say hello to Zora – a progressive fine dine unparalleled in the Pune ‘Horeca’ scene. The Pune ‘Horeca’ scene is really going through a tidal change when it comes to dishes being crafted out with each chef desperately trying to bring some unique concept or culinary masterpiece to woo their audience; and Chef Priyanka is no exception. Get ready to be enthralled by this romantic fine dine situated in the heart of the city at Ishanya mall. The fine dine is a practical real life experience of those glamorous celebrity homes that you fancy in you-tube videos. The place is draped in shades of white and green for its 150+ outdoor alfresco seating area and sports a classy yellow sapphire finish bar within the cosy plush interiors which would make every gentleman crave to replicate one at his own place. The entire place is spurred with ambient lighting emitted from the opulent chandeliers that adore the ceiling. And the enormous efforts taken in designing this place is just the beginning for wait till you go through the experience we had when we went for a test …err tasting session.
Now I am damn sure that you all have heard about Zora for some specific reason of your own but I’ll just say this don’t let what you hear or read cloud your sense of judgement and make you form an opinion until you give it a try.
We started with Palak Dhaniya shorba with garlic butter brun and steamed kheema wanton soup with Lavash bark. My notion about Shorba was changed for good with this amazing shorba. Weather you appreciate palak or otherwise his shorba is a must have with its mild buttery texture and delicate herbed flavour. The wantons went a spot ahead of shorba. Thin, translucent lite dumplings in a soup broth, these were just the perfect start once could ask for. #HighlyRecommended
Next came in the peanut chat in kasundi and stir fry kali mirch fish in a creamy curry leaves dressing. Peanut chat as the name suggest is just an accompaniment with your drinks (Chakna) but with a classic touch with the use of kasundi. The appropriate use of kasundi to give subtle mild dash was brilliant and paid of really well. The stir fry kali mirch came out winner in this round two with those flavourful morsels that it came in. The texture was a little dense than expected like that of a chicken and the curry leaves were kept at a minimum but all that actually delivered and the dish came out a winner. #PerfectChakna
There were just way too many items that came in successively but I was hell bent on not missing one and as such I had to (with great difficulty) restraint to just a spoonful of each of these mini wonders.
Badami Yoghurt Kebab with imli saunt came in next and we took a 5 minute break to relish these heavenly kebabs. They took the indulgence to a whole new level and I can bet anyone hands down to do some fault finding with these blissful bits of heaven. #SimplyIrrestible #AbsoluteMustHave
Mushroom and Cheese bharva mirch: This was decent and unable to impress more than the other delicacies being spoiling us. The mirchi as you might expect overpowers the dish a bit by default. Loved the delicate texture imparted although.
Tandoori Broccoli with aampapad chutney: Yet another dish which showed brilliant pairing concept. While the broccoli was drenched in a white cheesy creamy sauce which had delicate herbed flavours; the flavourful aam papad chutney gave it a sharp contrast. The tangy sweet chutney took the dish to a whole new level. I can’t think of better chutney for the time being that could complete this dish. #Brilliant
Bhut Jolokia Tandoori Murg: One of the most sought after recipes at Zora this is not for the faint hearted. Soft yoghurt marinated chicken leg pieces glazed using a green foam made using bhut jolokia (ghost pepper chilli) marinade. It starts off normal and about 10 secs later the kick comes in. Loved it totally. #SignatureDish
Amritsari Bombil with mango chilli chutney: I found this pretty bland and lacklustre as compared to the other start attractions. But nothing too bad about it either.
Indian Spiced lamp chops: These were heavenly drumsticks with the marinate perfect for my taste buds. The only suggestion (and a rather very difficult one to implement) would be to use choicest hand-picked chops which are meaty in nature as I found many of the pieces bony in nature. But that totally depends on what kind of batch you get. We loved it so much that we ordered a repeat for this one. #MustHave
Cottage cheese pin wheels were decent start to mains. The gravy was good and the rice was aptly flavoured with kafir lime flavour. The Paneer/ cottage cheese used was less than perfect and brought the dish a step down as a whole.
Grilled Baigan steaks with coconut curry leaf gravy raised a lot of brows. Some with uncertainty while a lot others with curiosity. The tamarind peanut pilaf accompanying the dish paired well with the dish but it was the coconut chutney that worked wonders. So also I can bet that all on the table including few who hated aubergine until that day loved the dish and would certainly recommend everyone to give it a shot. #Recommended
Tawa subz fondue: More of masala okra I would say, for it lacked a lot of veggies but the curry was nice and refreshing with classic use of cloves, cinnamon and curry leaves. #Nice
Sukha tawa chicken masala: This was nice and the pairing of buttermilk waffle was a shocker. This should have been from the family of mutton chops but on the contrary it turned out very different.
Matka butter chicken lasagne: Ohhh….my….Goooaadd……Call me Janice for all I care but I can think of any reason to criticize this dish in the slightest of possibility. This was one pot that dropped of straight from the heavens kitchen. It is sure to make you go all orgasmic of food. IT is the reason food porn word was invented. The butter chicken cooked in that pot — dum style along with Italian touch to it and with all that drool worthy cheese is sure to send any non-veg lover into a state of trance. #HighlyRecommended #SignatureDish #Droolworthy #MustHave
Prawn Balchao: A curry leaves based curry preparation but I believe it used bottled gravy and that took away the grandeur. #decent
Then came in a surprise which apparently as per Joravar Sachdev; the co-founder is pretty popular at the place – The chicken dal khichdi. It did pass everyone’s expectation, with the soft juicy chicken junks drenched in with all that ghee and cooked till golden brown colour. #Recommended
We had spicy lotus root chips all the time as finger food which I found way too salty than I could handle. The lotus stem/ roots are the latest in thing in Pune and how could Zora be left behind but sadly I wasn’t impressed by the lotus stem dish
For the desserts we had the very famous chocolate pani puri from Priyanka’s kitchen. For the assorted filling they had chocolate and butterscotch sauce along with some nutties, popping candy and tooti frooti. While I loved the concept may be there was a bit over hype about it for the recipe played underhand of its full potential. I believe it can be taken to another level with more research on the pairing of the ingredients that can go in. For concept it gets full credits but I want more before I can accommodate in my list of must haves.
Dark chocolate gulab jamun tart with tender coconut ice cream: Yet another example of classic pairing. The tender coconut gave it the textural element while the dark chocolate gulab jamun chipped in for the sweet indulgence.
Then there is the ultra famous cheesecake from Zora which we simply had to try. The cheese cake failed to have swept us off our feat for the texture couldn’t be what we had expected. The most probable reason for that could be it must have been cold storage and came straight on short notice so it could rest enough to thaw and come down to normal temperature and as such texture disappointed us a bit but yes still a cheese cake that you must try.
With all that went in that night there is no room left to realize and acknowledge the tremendous efforts put in by Chef Priyanka who brought her culinary skills to us in the form of this ultra-modern progressive fine dine — Zora.
Ahh a quick word about the mocktails that we had (it was a dry day and we had to settle for mocktails alone but the best part was all these mocktails came in the alcoholic variant as well and could be easily transformed into cocktails with a twist of the wrist). We were offered some refreshing drinks like:
Pomegranate and rose water caipiroska, dessert martini, Guava cooler, Pine berry cooler and lemon zest ice tea. All were good in their own way but I would recommend the guava cooler amongst these.
We had a truly mesmerizing experience all thanks to team Zora and chef Priyanka who ensured that we get to see the real mantle of team Zora.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own and from the single or multiple experiences that I have had with the food joint. While you are free to disagree with the opinion below; please respect the originality and fairness of the content. The taste and experience might differ from the one portrayed for varied reasons like the Chef and staff that serves you, Ingredients used and other factors that change from time to time. The opinion/ review is purely based on my experience and there is no biased, favoured or commercial angle to it. At times, I might have used a few references from the freely available information on the internet to draw a correct more accurate picture but the sole intent of the is review is to give back a piece of my experience to the foodie community.)