It had been a while that I had been to a fine dine restaurant and was a tad sad about not being able to make it when the invite reached me. As things would have it, I eventually made it to Savya Rasa for an invite from Carpe Diem – my first with this agency.
Savya Rasa launched itself as a fine dine south Indian restaurant in October’15 and since then has been slowly gaining reputation in this space. South Indian in Pune has been restricted to Idli – Dosa – Wada combination for a long time and some of the erstwhile places which use to serve south Indian cuisine folded up some time back.
Located next to Starbucks Koregaon Park, I wonder if the builder named the building Serenity after visiting the restaurant. The restaurant does give you a perfect serene experience and it starts from the entrance – red and white stripes of color and steps leading up to the magnificent porch and the entrance which is decorated with bright yellow lighting and traditional south Indian wooden chairs, table and other artifacts.
I was curious about the name since it is unusual but a little prodding and I was told that Savya means South and Rasa is derived from Sanskrit is work of art and flavor or essence of food.
The 62 seater place is divided in sections, two private dining rooms, a mezzanine section and an outdoor section – where we were hosted. The place is a nice blend of history, architecture and food.
Impeccably laid out large wooden tables with comfortable chairs are inviting. As soon I took my seat, the staff came up informing about the choices of water. From the standard Regular or Bottled and room temperate or cold, this was a new experience altogether. Tulsi, Jeera or Khus? The question stumped me as I opted for Khus.
The smell of Khus was refreshingly more than the taste of Khus, this subtle difference between the smell and taste followed with the drinks as well as the dessert and it indeed makes this restaurant special.
The staff is dressed in veshti, traditional south Indian attire. The staff was very attentive and prompt throughout the dinner and had great knowledge of food, ingredients and region of origin – something which again stands out.
From the Yali (mythical creature which is part lion, part elephant and part horse) at the entrance Aranmula Kanadi (Handmade metal alloy mirror), everything has a story attached to it and a lot of history associated. Most of the door frames are few hundred year old and resurrected.
The outdoor section has Madras tiles on the roof, chandeliers and hand crafted Athangudi tiles are all a must see things if you are here.
Full points for the ambiance.
The menu is segregated between
Kongunadu – Western Part of Tamil Nadu and some regions of Karnataka & Kerala. Primarily it is the area around Coimbatore which comprises of Kongunadu.
Chettinad – The south part of Tamil Nadu is known as Chettinad and more famous for food than anything else.
Nasrani – More popular as a Christian community in Kerala, the cuisine popular with them is known as Nasrani cuisine
Malabar – The coastal region of Kerala is known as Malabar. It comprises of northern districts of Kerala and some parts of Karnataka. Primarily the area around Kozhikode in Kerala.
Mangaluru – Coastal southern Karnataka is known for its own cuisine, popularly the Mangalorean cuisine. This part is also known as the Dakshin Kannada region.
Mysuru – The southern non-coastal part of Karnataka is unofficially called Mysuru region.
Nellore – The southern coastal Andhra cuisine along the Penna river is known as Nellore Cuisine.
In their choice of food, they have missed out on the famous Hyderabadi Biryani and the Telangana region along with some delicacies from the Uttar Kannada Region.
The drinks menu is with a South Indian twist to the regular drinks. Some of the drinks are Betal Sour (Betal Leaf, Cloves, Bitters & Whisky), Cucumber & Tulsi Martini (Cucumber, Tulsi and Gin) and Bydagi Mary (Bydagi Chilli, Giner, Lime and Vodka).
I tried their signature – Filter Kaapi Martini (South Indian Filter Kaapi & Vodka). The aroma of Filter coffee followed by taste of liqueur coffee and vodka. This unimaginable combination was another instance where the restaurant has a perfect balance between aroma and taste and the aroma which is overpowering is not the taste.
The other drink I tried was the Curry Leaf Mojito (Curry Leaf, Lime and Bacardi). They could well re-name it as Mojito – tadka marke. Even with the tadka of curry leaves the flavor was still that of Mojito with a hint of curry leaves.
From the seven options on offer, my top three were
Kozhi Podi Varuval (Chettinad – Chicken marinated with chilli poweder, lime juice and ginger-garlic paste, dry roasted and later stir fried) – Not deep fried yet little crispy and on the spicier side.
Cheniga Pappu Vada (Nellore – Fried patties of Bengal lenthals with spices) – The chutneys which came along were very tasty and the Vada itself was well fried, moist on the inside and tasty.
Venchina Mamsa Koora (Nellore – Diced Mutton sautéed with browned onions, spices and curry leaves) – The mutton was moist and not chewy which made me a fan of this dish.
The service was split in three segments to ensure that we taste everything on offer. I skipped a few things, primarily the sea food dishes. Some dishes which I liked and would recommend
Bun Parota (Kongunadu) which is a fluffy multi layered bread cooked with flour and egg. A must try for its softness and taste which was even better when combined with Milagu Kozhi Chettinad (Chettinad) – a black peppery chicken with gravy, very similar to what is popularly known as Chicken Chettinad. It would be nice if the restaurant goes a little easy on the Black Pepper.
This was followed by Idiyappa Idli (Chettinad) which is fine vermicelli made from ground rice and I had that with Pollachi Kari Kozhambu (Kangunadu) which had tender pieces of succulent mutton with black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom.
The last of the main course was Saiva Veral Kozhambu (Chettinad) – a veg dish which tastes like fish and is known as mock fish gravy. This was had with Malli Saadam (Chettinad) – A pulao cooked with coriander and curry leaves.
Things which did not go well were the Kambu Rotti (Kongunadu) which was very dry and the Gutti Venkaya Masala (Nellore) where I thought the Brinjal was over cooked.
The whole experience ends with a tea infused warm water in finger bowl which helps get rid of the smell of food from fingers and followed by desserts.
I did not enjoy the desserts as much as I enjoyed the main course. Dessert consisted of Obbatlu (Nellore) – Soft dough balls made from refined flour and stuffed with grated coconut. This was more like the Puran Poli cooked in Maharashtra. The other dessert was Karuppati Halwa (Kongunadu) – gelatinous sweet made from palm sugar syrup with fried cashew nuts. The only taste was of ghee and nothing else but ghee.
The desserts ended with Sulaimani Tea – and here was another instance where the aroma was overpowering and that of cinnamon but the taste was subdued.
A closer look at the above likes and dislikes also gives you a hint of which region you like the most!
While I was at this restaurant on invitation, a casual look at the menu card reveals that it is a costly affair to be here. I would certainly recommend at least one visit and recommend the Chicken Chettinad and Bun Parotha.