Last week, I celebrated my 21st birthday. [May 9th, and no, don’t ask for a treat now 😜] My friend Sheel suggested this place — Baraza Bar & Bites — that came up on his Zomato feed. Curious as ever, I decided to try out the place.
And boy, I was not disappointed.
A little background
Baraza is the latest addition to the gamut of brands by Chef Irfan Pabaney and Chef Rachel Goenka. For those uninitiated, Chefs Pabaney and Goenka are the owners of The Sassy Spoon and Sassy Teaspoon.
The owners took a huge risk by starting the venture in the famously non-happening place that is Ishanya Mall in Yerwada. That said, the risk seems to have paid off, given the place’s popularity among Punekars.
With its very fresh concept of an island-themed bar and lounge, Baraza resembles the colonial façades of Portuguese-era Goa.
The alfresco dining area was laid-back, lined with palm trees. All that was missing was a sandy turf and sea waves crashing at our feet. [Although there was a fountain nearby, splashing muddy water].
And with its wooden furniture and warm lamps, it definitely felt like a lazy Goan shack.
We started with a round of tequila shots, a birthday ritual of sorts I started 3-4 years ago. That was followed by a bucket of ice-cold Kingfisher Beer, and the Baraza Chicken Tikka.
I’m an Appy Guy.
As long as I’m drinking out. Meals tend to be heavy, and who wants to drink on a full belly? [Hint: It’s not me.]
Now, mind you, chicken tikka is a pretty cliché dish, but that’s the dish you must look out for while checking out a restaurant.
The Baraza version didn’t let me down – succulent chicken pieces marinated in a balanced blend of spices, grilled to perfection and enrobed in a creamy layer of cheese. And with the deliciously spiced onions and a freshening mint chilli chutney, you definitely can’t go wrong with that.
With a night ahead of drinks, we decided to stick to the appetizers. Which brings me to the Raan Naan, a delicacy Victor – our server [and apparently the Assistant Manager] – swore us to try. And his suggestion didn’t disappoint. He presented us with the ultimate slow-roasted leg of lamb, stuffed in a garlicky naan sprinkled generously with coriander. Did I mention that the naan was basted well with butter?
Mo’ drinks [and apps, too]
Being a strong wine drinker, I’m very skeptical of beer. And there was I, trying out the Kingfisher Solkadhi and Kala Khatta. With its tart yet malty notes, the hint of kokum in beer gave a nod to Goa’s Konkani side. The Kala Khatta was a sweet and sour reminder of childhood summers spent eating gola.
Victor then suggested we try the Goan Chorizo Sliders. If happiness came in small packets, these miniatures were definitely high on the list. Chorizo, for you noobs, is a classic Goan sausage made of pork, smoked and spiced highly.
By the look of it, the Sliders seemed a tad too dull. It lacked in appearance but made up with taste – chorizo with bacon and a spicy bell pepper sauce, almost like a Goan pork vada pao. These were served with a side of salli – a cut of potatoes very similar to juliennes, popularly used for chivda.
What meal ends without a good dessert?
Victor and the entire service staff came to our table with a fresh Mango and Cream Pastry to celebrate my birthday. This was definitely the highlight of the evening, and earned the service staff more respect. You see, it’s the little things that make a customer service memorable.
Cool breezes, warm atmosphere, delicious food and impeccable service made the ultimate soirée. It was definitely a memorable experience, and one of the best birthday celebrations yet.
I look forward to ‘The B Life’ experience soon.