Sunday, 8 September 2013

Gaon Ka Khana and the Dope on Punjab Grill Going Molecular in New Upscale Avatar

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

AFTER flagging off Punjab Grill’s forays into Bangkok and Dubai, the restaurant chain’s operator, Lite Bite Foods, promoted by Dabur scion Amit Burman and knitwear exporter Rohit Aggarwal, is now contemplating expansion to the United States. It is looking at Tysons Corner Center, the biggest mall development in the Baltimore-Washington area in Fairfax County, Virginia, as a possible location for the fourth international address of Punjab Grill, after Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai.
Sharing this information over a sumptuous Gaon Ka Khana spread presented at Zambar on Sunday by Gurgaon Foodies, a Facebook group promoted by Pawan Soni and Aalok Wadhwa of Indian Food Freak, Lite Bite Foods Chief Operating Officer Sharad Sachdeva also disclosed
(From left) Indian Food Freak and Gurgaon Foodies
co-founder Pawan Soni, yours truly and wedding planner
Nita Raheja at the Gaon Ka Khana lunch organised at
Zambar, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, on Sunday
that Punjab Grill is going upscale and venturing into molecular gastronomy to wow its regulars.
The new direction of the restaurant chain’s menu will be first unveiled at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, where Punjab Grill is opening in place of Fresc Co along with a revamped Zambar, which has been going places ever since Arun Kumar TR, its low-key but hugely talented filmmaker-turned-master chef, took charge of its kitchens. A former GMR senior executive who powered retail concepts at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Sachdeva clarified that Fresc Co is being nixed at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, on the suggestion of the mall operator.
Sachdeva, an IMT Ghaziabad MBA, also informed us that he has collapsed the traditional wall in restaurants dividing the back of the house and the front end by making the Punjab Grill cuisine consultant responsible for its profit and loss accounts as well. The chef de cuisine, in other words, has also become the custodian of the brand’s financial health — a bold experiment, but very much in sync with these difficult times when food costs are spiraling out of control.
Zambar, meanwhile, was packed to capacity with Gurgaon’s food lovers who enthusiastically dug the six-course Gaon Ka Khana spread that was accompanied by a steady flow of beer and wine. Arun Kumar said that feeding people who knew about food (and you’d expect such a gathering when it’s put together by the moving spirits of one of the most livewire restaurant reviews and recipes site) was a different experience altogether. They were inquisitive about the dishes and open to food innovations, the extremely knowledgeable Arun Kumar added.
Lite Bite Foods COO Sharad Sachdeva (standing) with Delhi
Gourmet Club member Pooja Sharma and yours truly
It was a happy afternoon, and though the service was not always up to speed, we never felt it because the wine flowed like water and conversation was strewn with laughter and nuggets of wisdom. I shared my table with Mr Old Monk and founder-member of the Delhi Gourmet Club (DGC), Rocky Mohan, who was with us for a short time but as always a gold mine of culinary wisdom; the gregarious Nita Raheja, a leading wedding planner and communications professional, and her husband; drummer and blogger about town Vivek Vaid; and DGC’s very well-informed member, Pooja Sharma, who had come with her husband, an automotive interiors specialist, and was regaling us with her stories of eating out in New York, especially at wd-50, a much-acclaimed Manhattan Lower East Side restaurant powered by Wylie Dufresne. When there’s good food, can delicious conversation be far away?


Photos: Courtesy of www.indianfoodfreak.com