I had the happy fortune of scoring an invite to Pukka last week, for a media preview of their fall menu. I’ve been angling to go to Pukka since it opened about two years, and jumped at the chance to finally check it out (shout out to blogger buddy extraordinaire Vicky)!
Pukka (and nearby Concession Road) are the sibling restaurants brought to you by Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau, with Peter Boyd (arguably the best in the city) as acting sommelier. Pukka is well known and celebrated for their creative take on Indian cuisine, best described as modern, which is to say that it’s been elevated beyond grab and go curries- this is a restaurant that you could easily tuck in at the bar for a drink after work, or bring the family for a casual dinner. The bar program is on point, with a batch of celebrated fine French liquers from maker Maison Fondee providing a killer base to some well thought up cocktails, like the very tasty Mumbai Sour that comes neatly garnished with an orchid petal. Cocktails were on point, and paired well with the crispy Okra Fries, which were quickly hoarded (and rightly so), they are addictive!
We then shared plates family style, with the fluffy and complex String Chaat, a layered mini mountain of puffed rice with slivers of apple, carrot and pops of pomegranate making it a colourful and fresh dish. Herb-infused Chicken Tikka was by far my favourite- expertly cooked chicken (which in these smaller pieces was a feat) are marinated overnight for the distinctive green hue, with an artful dose of Tamarind Chutney for further slathering. This chicken was easily one of my favourite dishes I’ve had ALL YEAR! And I eat, a lot! Carole Nelson Brown over at Yum Yum Factor almost lost a finger fighting me for the last morsel. Tandoori Calamari likely avoided this confrontation, as it’s preferable to eat this straight away, before it becomes chewy. Again, no real threat there, it was quickly demolished, as was the side garnish of Citrus Slaw and Coconut Chutney.
Other standouts from the night were the Beef Short Ribs, with Black Cumin, garlic and Ginger Masala, a meaty portion that is fall comfort food at it’s finest! Wine pro Peter Boyd matched this perfectly with a Spanish Tempranillo, Vizcarra del Oro Robel a bold choice that paired beautifully with both the short ribs and the Boatman’s Fish + Prawn Curry, a feat accomplished only by someone of his caliber. Other mains included the Pumpkin Curry, a seasonal dish that has abruptly stolen a spot from their Aloo Gobi, (fear not, it will be back soon) as well as the Punjabi Chicken, a traditional curry with a kick of heat. I loved the serving presentation for these dishes, a flip top mason jar for the rice ensures it stays warm and fluffy, and tiffin style metal vessels kept the curries warm and fragrant.
Not having a huge sweet tooth (and having some parental obligations to attend to) I bowed out at this point and feeling stuffed and sated, I left feeling remorseful that I haven’t been here yet- not to fear, I already have plans to go back! Pukka is hosting some gem wine evenings, a cinq a sept special menu for two, and a very cool combo dinner, kicking off at Pukka, and wrapping up at nearby Concession Road. Check their website for full details on how to secure your spot for these stellar events.
Special thanks to Pukka for hosting such a lovely evening. While my meal was comped, it did not influence my opinion- this St. Clair hotspot is my new fave for good reason.