Rhubarb – Inspired Cuisine

Rhubarb is a charming little restaurant in Aundh on the ground floor of the Seasons Apartment Hotel. Fairly understated and simple from the outside buts packs a huge punch in the food department. No specific cuisine, no pretensions, no labels. Just a brilliant chef taking local ingredients and dishing out some wonderful dishes.

The palate of us ‘Punekars’ has evolved and slowly transformed, in the last couple of years; such that, innovative Chefs can create their vision of food and it is appreciated for what it is. Rhubarb is a prime example of this revolution. Taking produce directly from farms or growing them yourself and creating a menu fine tuned specifically to suit them. The season changes, so does what the farms produce and thus the menu.

Local ingredients, simply and skillfully prepared to create the best food possible. You come here for flavour, wholesome portions and to be wowed by the ingredients. You come here to eat, not just to post a picture on Instagram. (Though the food here fervently satisfies that check box too!)

AMBIENCE

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The place is simple, classy and clean. The white walls are sprinkled with some intricate murals revolving around food, produce and spices. It’s a lovely place to sit, inside or outside. The beautiful satin black cutlery and silver napkins need special mention as they do make the table look really special. Attention to detail is what you notice here.

THE FOOD

Duck Salad

A wonderful fresh salad, pretty as a picture, heaped full of greens, juicy, sweet and earthy beet, succulent chunks of duck and beautiful little flowers as garnish. It’s a meal in itself and the taste is superb. The balance of the natural flavours of the components is amazing. Sweetness, cut through with a sharp hint of bitterness along with saltiness from the cheese.

Baked Cheese

A highly satisfying bowl of melted cheese with a nice crunchy crust (topped with nuts) served with toasted bread and olive jam. The cheese was gooey and creamy and a lot of fun scooping it up with the crisp bread. The olive jam provided a hit of tartness and definition to the mild cheese. This jam is incredibly flavourful and one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Lamb Croquettas

Little balls of heaven. Crispy balls with a melty hot mess of minced lamb, herbs and cheese inside. Perfect with the spicy dip.

Palate Cleansers

Rhubarb and Apple Cider – A fruity, tangy and fizzy drink with actual Rhubarb flowers. Really tasty stuff. Eating the Rhubarb flower was quite a fun and unique experience.

Watermelon, Strawberry and Spearmint – A milder drink with the fresh sweetness of watermelon. Could have loved a bit more of the strawberry and spearmint though.

Homemade Bread

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A side of bread is always something I love in European restaurants and the fresh in house bread here was even more special. Soft white as well as whole wheat bread with a crispy crust, slathered with some butter and olive oil dip was very satisfying.

Slow Cooked Pork Ribs

A stunner of a dish; a must have! Succulent and juicy ribs slow cooked for 12 hours in sugarcane molasses. I picked one up by the bone and the meat just slipped away and fell onto the dish, leaving me holding just the bone in my hand. A testament to how beautifully the ribs were cooked. Sweet, meaty and savoury. I had a couple too many. Burp..

Black Pepper Sweet Potatoes

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It’s not everyday you are served sweet potatoes in a restaurant and I’m so glad they did. They were sweet and soft with a spicy hit from the garlic and black pepper. I was surprised how good they tasted which is a mark of a great chef, turning a mostly underwhelming vegetable into a finger licking dish.

Homemade Pasta

Comfort food at it’s best. Such a simple dish of flat pasta and veggies garnished with olive oil, nuts and cheese. What makes this simple dish great is the beautiful ingredients, as is with everything here at Rhubarb. The pasta is made in house from scratch and it was light, velvety and al dente. The vegetables were fresh and cooked perfectly; with the nuts adding a wonderful crunch. Best part is the restrained hand with the cheese. This makes you actually taste the quality of the pasta and the vegetables, exactly how I like it.

Year of the Rooster

A Chinese style chicken dish, named so, as this is the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese calendar. Juicy and beautifully cooked soft chicken in a red Sichuan inspired sauce. Not too spicy or overwhelming, tossed with blanched vegetables which still retained their wonderful crunch. It was a brilliant dish and went very well with the egg fried rice (using local Indrayani rice), which was peppery and delicious.

DESSERTS

Spearmint Panna cotta with Strawberry and Lemon Curd

I was floored with this dessert. The mint panna cotta was silky and sweet with a base of strawberry coulis, topped with fresh strawberries and tangy-creamy lemon curd which sliced wonderfully through the sweetness. I wiped the bowl clean leaving no evidence of what occupied it before!

Chocolate Cake – Why wouldn’t you have a soft and delicious chocolate cake after a meal? Especially one that tastes and has the texture of a perfect brownie? I’m still trying to wipe the smile off my face.

Homemade Chocolates – These were delicious little disks of homemade dark chocolate loaded with nuts and dried fruit. Quite exquisite!

There are a lot of restaurants harking about ‘organic’ food and charging a bomb under the pretext. But very few are doing it right, how it should be done. Understanding the land which is producing the ingredients, respecting it. Buying everything yourself, growing them and treating them with utmost care and love. Preparing what’s fresh, not into generic dishes, but creating dishes that suit their flavour and texture. Not following a cuisine for the heck of it, but using it as inspiration, from all corners of the globe. Transforming the ingredients into – more than anything else – a tasty and satisfying meal.

Kudos to the Rhubarb team! Hats off.

I would like to thank Food Prowl as well as Rhubarb Restaurant for inviting me for the lovely food tasting.

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