In every mall there usually are many international chains of restaurants, such as Nandos, Chillis' (don't worry, I will review them soon enough!), but this time I reviewed an Indian chain of restaurants called 'The Village'.
[ Ambience / Experience ]
The entire restaurant is made out to be in a village setting. If you have been to Sanskruti in Hadapsar, then "The Village" can be imagined as a shrunk down version of it.
As you enter, there is a ticket counter where you have to buy a ticket before you can enter. You even get a stamp on the hand for re-entry! Ticket cost is Rs. 300.
The main entrance area has small chaat counters with village style baithak / cots and chairs around a table. The drinking glasses on the table are of steel and made out to be the kind you get in the villages.
Triangular streamers line the entire ceiling of the restaurant.
Near the entrance, there is a small open space which usually saw people dancing / doing the garba or dandia depending on the kind of music played. Music ranged from Bollywood to traditional Gujarati or Rajasthani. There are one or two small Rajasthani performances such as Kachchi Ghodi.
There is a tree like setting next to the dance floor where there is a sketch artist who draws your sketch for Rs. 50, a girl doing mehendi for about Rs. 40 per hand (from what I hear she did not do a very good job of it), a Palmist who tells you your future for about Rs. 51 and for the kiddies a tattoo artist.
Decorations include electric light bulbs put inside old-style kerosene lantern, which add a nice touch. There is a small section where you can climb up to, which houses the D.J. console and two carom boards for playing. At regular intervals and spaced throughout the restaurant are village artefacts like a bel gadi(bullock-cart) with figures of cows around, mock water wells, mock open back auto-rickshaws which has a table and benches inside to sit, a seating area where a t.v. is mounted on the wall (or was it with a projector with images projected on a wall?), movie posters to make it look like a cinema etc. All waiters / staff are dressed in traditional dresses too. Even the ice-cream was served from a large steel dubba containing ice cream, hung on bicycle.
The baithaks are not very comfortable and give you "that sinking feeling", also making a bit difficult to eat.
Generally speaking, the place is slightly chaotic. This is because people are dancing, there is alot of music, people walking around, kids running around and you have to move from one counter to another counter to pick up your bite sized "starters" and you sit at one table, then go pick up another starter and then sit at another table.
There really is no fixed table concept; not required either.
It is an experience I must say. Not a place to go for a quiet evening or on dates. Should go with a few friends or family and family-friends. Best part is the whole place is air-conditioned. Hows that for a high tech village!
[ The tummy's yummies, the Food ]
Well here comes the important bit.
The food overall was rather disappointing. All veg. by the way.
--> Choice of drink - Orange sherbet (like an orange squash) or chaas. Since I don't like chaas I had the Orange sherbet. It was okay, not great and could have been better.
--> Chana Chor bhel - This was a mixture of tomato, peanuts, and a couple of other things I could not identify. It had a little too much lemon in it but was not bad. Unfortunately, the server did not give me a spoon to eat this, and when I asked him for one he said "Aap gaon me aye hon"(you have come to a village) which I found rather amusing.
--> Paani puri - I have had better paani puri. A little more sweetness would have been better too, but the taste of the paani was not comparable to what you get at Kalyan Bhel or even Om Jai shankar.
--> SBDP & Papdi chaat- The SBDP was also "so-so" (read while imagining a hand gesture which you use when saying this to someone). The papdi chat was better than the SBDP.
--> Chinese noodles and Veg. Chilli gravy - The chinese noodles were stritly tolerable but the veg chilli gravy was atrocious.
That takes care of of the "small chop"(basically your bite sized eatables).
Now for the main course dinner. Dinner was a buffet.
--> Gulab Jamun - Not great. Just a tad bit more sweet than it should have been.
--> Rajma - The Rajma was tolerable. Nothng to sing about
--> Veg. Punjabi curry - A regular mix veg. dish. Not bad.
--> Chapatis - For some reason the chapatis were hard and chewy . Very Very disappointing.
--> Bhakri made from Jowari - The jowari bhakris were very good. They were made right in frontof you on order and an old lady was sitting and making live for you. Quite nice
--> Dal Bati - The Dal Bati was pretty good, the flavour of the Dal was correct, however it need to be a little stronger. The Batis were put in a container and were completely immersed in ghee, the way they should be. Yum!
--> Cheese Masala Dosa- I did not particularly like the Masala Dosa, mainly because I could only taste the cheese, a few friends of mine did like it though. Other Dosa options were also available.
--> Baingan bharta- The Baingan Bharta was atrocious. Avoid this one as far as possible.
--> Khichadi - There was Khichadi also available. I generally do not like Khichadis, and I believe that Khichadi should be had by people when they are ill. This khichadi was different. It is the worst Khichadi I have ad in my entire life! (Incidentally, I thought I should mention, the best Khichadi I have had so far has been at Hotel Green Park in Baner. Try not to visit their website. It iritated me in like 10 seconds flat!).
--> Kadhi - I did not try the Kadhi as I am not a Kadhi fan.
-->Jalebi and Moong dal halwa - These two were the best items in the entire restaurant. The jalebi was nice and crispy and juicy inside with the right amount of sweetness. The Moong Dal Halwa was PERFECT. It was had the exactly rightamount of ghee and sugar. It was not dry or too loose. The Moong Dal halwa was the best item that night.
For Rs. 300 I guess one should not complain too much, but none the less, good food is expected no matter what the cost.
For the experience, a nice outing with the family or friends, The Village is a good place to go , if you can ignore the disappointing food that is.
They have huge scope for a great restaurant conceptually and if they improve the food they have a great potential to run well.
The Village has been highly praised and appreciated in other cities, too bad the Pune branch has disappointing food.
This is their website.
Please feel free to leave a comment or share your own experience.
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