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A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE – MOMO Cafe Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi Pune

August 10, 2009

A CLEAN WELL-LIGHTED PLACE

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place!”

That’s the first thought that instantly comes to my mind the moment I enter Courtyard’s MoMo Café on Saturday afternoon.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is the title of my favourite Ernest Hemingway Short Story – the phrase depicts the café where the story is set.

Well that’s what MoMo Café is – a Clean Airy Well Lighted Spacious Friendly café with wonderful feel-good ambience and superb food, tasteful décor and pleasant aesthetics which make you feel fresh, cheerful, comfortable and relaxed. Yes, the bright vibes of the place certainly lift my spirits and make me feel good the moment I enter the lobby of Courtyard.

We walk in the spacious “courtyard”, past MoMo 2 Go, the “to go” grab and go deli, stocked with tempting baked delights, for those in a hurry.

Well, I am not in a hurry, so I leisurely stroll past the spic-and-span counter adorned with tempting goodies and the appetizing buffet spread. There are pickles, in traditional jars, a mix and match and toss your own salad counter, and soups and broths. Everything is so visually pleasing that I can sense the appetite being built up inside me.

It is heartening to see the immaculate open display kitchen – it always feels reassuring to see your food being cooked in front of you with impeccable standards of hygiene and quality.

I look around. MoMo Café is a happy place and the seating is comfortable, ample, user-friendly and well-designed.

It is a leisurely Saturday afternoon cosmopolitan crowd comprising a delightful assortment – joyful families, young IT executives, couples, singles, friends, business guests, eager foodies, relaxed tourists and cosy friends spending a leisurely afternoon over a chilled beer, a tasty bite and snug conversation. There is plenty of space, there is plenty of light, freshness in the air, and everyone, the kids and the adults, seems to be having a pleasant time, enjoying the food and the friendly atmosphere.

A discerning yet innovative menu features an imaginative choice of select dishes from a variety of cuisines, from the Orient and the Occident, ranging from starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to Kebabs and an astute selection of traditional Indian dishes, sumptuous main course delicacies, and exclusive desserts to round off your meal. Despite the impressive array of multi-cuisine, it is a short and sweet uncluttered concise well thought-out menu – a sure sign of a restaurant that takes its food seriously.

We are wondering what to order, when Subhash, the Executive Chef, joins us, so we leave it to him to do the honours. He asks to select anything we fancy from the impressive array of dishes laid out for the lunch buffet and then we’ll try his recommendations from the a-la-carte menu.

I pick up some Seafood Broth – it’s non-spicy with a combination of seafood and lots of vegetables and nourishing, just like a basic Seafood Broth ought to be. The buffet seems to be very popular perhaps because the spread is so elaborate and I wonder what to sample. I start off with some bhuna gosht – it is excellent – succulent flavoursome pieces of mutton in luxuriant gravy. The scrumptious Mustard Fried Fish and Stroganoff tempt me to try out the whole buffet lunch but Subhash has already ordered a pizza from their wood fired pizza oven – I’ll only say this: The thin crust pizza is probably the best pizza I have ever tasted – it’s light, the crust melts in the mouth and allows the tongue to fully relish the taste of sauce, cheese and delectable toppings.

“Let’s have a Momo,” I say, harking back to mouth-watering memories of my Shillong days when I first relished the yummy wholesome Momo. At first I thought that maybe MoMo Café was a Momo place but Vyshnavi and Subhash educate me – the name MoMo Café exemplifies the concept of Modern Living and Modern Eating. But surely, isn’t it apt that MoMo Café has Momos on its menu – maybe next time!

Subhash orders Nasi Goreng for me and Conchiglie Pasta for my darling vegetarian wife. There is an interesting choice of wines, spirits and cocktails, but we prefer freshly squeezed orange juice as an accompaniment.

We are indeed fortunate to have an opportunity to interact with Subhash who is a veritable human encyclopaedia on wining and dining and all things culinary. The enlightening “foodie” conversation is sheer delight and Subhash’s  sincere love of food, passion for cooking and impressive repertoire of culinary knowledge enhance the eating experience and make our meal even more appetizing and intellectually stimulating.

The Nasi Goreng, Spicy Prawn Fried Rice with soft fried egg and Chicken Satay, is lip-smacking and fulfilling. I have a bite of the vegetarian Conchiglie Pasta too, savouring its inimitable taste of spinach in basil flavoured sauce, as Subhash explains the intricacies – the foam and the way this delicate dish is made.

For dessert, we have Tiramisu, the pièce de résistance of the meal. MoMo Café’s inimitable signature Tiramisu is marvellous – a fitting climax to a splendid meal. Subhash tells us it is a non-alcoholic Tiramisu, to cater to children and local preferences, but let me tell you that it is the best Tiramisu I have ever had and the delightful symbiosis of delectable tastes lingers within me for a long long time.

I will cherish mouth-watering memories of this lovely Saturday afternoon forever. I am sure MoMo Café is going to be a hit, a boon to the foodies of Pune, due to its unique location, superb food, vibrant ambience, impeccable standards of hygiene and quality, and the warm and friendly service.

I am certainly going to eat at MoMo Café again. And this time I am going to check out the Indian Cuisine. I’ll start with melt-in-the-mouth dissolve-on-your-tongue Galawat Kebab, savour a Nalli Nihari – let’s see how it compares with the authentic versions of this luscious fortifying breakfast dish I’ve relished in the heart of Delhi and Mumbai. Then I’ll try some Dum Biryani and end with a soothing Kulfi Falooda.

A true Foodie eats twice, first in his mind’s eye, and then with his taste buds. So whenever a Foodie ventures out to a new place he builds up some expectations – MoMo Café certainly exceeded my expectations in all aspects and we thoroughly enjoyed the overall dining experience.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL


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