MEDIA PREVIEW of NEW MENU
Address: 778 St. Clair Ave. West (west of Bathurst)
Date visited: Oct 26, 2015
Phone: (416) 342-1906
Pukka is a fantastic elevated Indian Restaurant like no other in Toronto, and it has added some new menu additions and invited a few local food bloggers to the restaurant to sample the new menu. Pukka is owned by Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau who also own the French Restaurant Concession Road which is located not far from Pukka on St. Clair Ave. West. The small strip on St. Clair is quickly becoming a food connoisseur destination with original and high quality restaurants. I had been to Concession Road not that long ago and enjoyed the food there. You can see a previous blog post for a review of Concession Road. I had heard a lot about Pukka and how good the food was so I was excited to attend this dinner.
Pukka is a lovely warm and comfortable restaurant. I really liked the colorful artwork on the walls.
We were greeted by our Blogger friend Vicky who brings us all together for these delicious evenings and also by owner Derek Valleau. We hung out around the bar upon arrival and all gathered around the beautifully made cocktails that were set up on the bar. A sling, a sour, a martini and a cocktail. While we were busy taking photos of the cocktails the bartender was busy mixing up some cocktails for us and we chose the one we wanted to try while also munching on some amazingly addictive Okra fries with a curry mayo dip. Everyone fell in love with the fries. Crunchy and light and perfectly seasoned. I ordered the Varnassis Sling which had mango, orange, cherry, rum and a few other things. It tasted so good and wasn't too strong. Like a taste of a tropical country. I drank the whole thing which is unusual for me.
Owner Derek spoke to us about the new additions to the menu as well as the menu items that are staying on the menu. He also told us about the fact that most of their proteins come from a local provider who produces higher quality food. They are also going to be doing a few new things at the restaurant like an Early Bird Prix Fixe $49 for 2 people between 5-6pm. They are also going to be doing their version of a 100 Foot Journey where they start at Pukka and move over to Concession Road so you can have both Indian food and French fusion in one dinner event. They are trying some new things to bring their local community together and see if people like it.
After taking photos of the food set up at the bar and mingling we sat down to sample the array of tasty dishes from the new menu.
Mumbai sour, Bombay Sapphire, Aperol, grapefruit, cardamom bitters, egg white
Varnassis Sling, Mango, cherry, orange, rum
Tandoori Calamari, Coconut Chutney & Citrus Slaw
Herb-Infused Chicken Tikka, Tamarind Chutney
Wine: Vina Esmerald, Torres 2014
Boatman's Fish & Prawn Curry, Tamarind & Coconut Broth
Beef Short Ribs, Black Cumin, Garlic & Ginger Masala
Wine: Valpolicella, Le Salette 2014
Dessert: Chai popcorn and truffles
My favourite dishes were the addictive Okra fries, the String Chaat a delicious mixed salad with vermicelli noodles, chickpeas, puffed rice, pomegranates and a few other ingredients I couldn't figure out but in combination it was fantastic, crunchy, sweet, savoury, soft noodles and delicious. A favourite with most of the bloggers was the braised short ribs. You didn't need a knife to cut them it was so tender. I really loved the Chicken Tikka which was unusually green from a coating of fresh herbs and the chicken was so tender and flavourful. I also loved the Coconut broth in the Boatman's Fish and Prawn Curry and mopped it up with the fresh Naan bread. My friend Niki went crazy over the rice which was served in a preserving jar. All of the food was beautifully presented and the evening lighting doesn't really do it justice in these photos. You really do need to go and try it for yourself. Don't expect the usual butter chicken and typical Indian dishes. These dishes are not what you find in other Indian restaurants in Toronto but they are authentic Indian flavours and probably more what people in India actually eat. It's funny that my friend who is Goan recently brought over some leftover Pumpkin curry that his dad made and they served a Pumpkin curry. My friends was so hot that I couldn't eat it but Pukka's version was a lot easier to eat.
If you are looking for a nice evening out with your spouse or your friends for a great dinner in a cozy space and enjoy trying new things then this is the place for you. Get yourself over to St. Clair Ave. West and check out their great restaurants and tell them I sent you.
*Disclaimer: The meal was complimentary but all opinions are my own.