The new innovation in Indian cuisine - a return to comfort food? - Punjab Grill, Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi
Punjab Grill Restaurant, with a stunning bar area, has an inviting selection of cocktails. I follow up my glass of Bollinger with a Cupid straight, a vodka drink infused with chilli, masala and coriander. It has a bit of bite, so beware! But so appropriate.
Having endured the heat, I move inside. It is interesting to see, as I look around the restaurant, that there is a balance of guests between what appears to be locals, Indian and other diners. It is always a good sign, especially, when you see a lot of Indian guests in an Indian restaurant; it speaks to the authenticity of the dining experience.
My thoughts are interrupted by a small selection of Vegetarian kebabs brought to our table - Laban ka kebab, Hara kebab and Beetroot kebab. The Laban kebab has a delicious crunch as I bite into and a melt-in-your-mouth appeal inside while the Hara kebab, a Spanish patty with a mango preserve brings to the fore another balanced dish. Finally, my favourite of the three - the beetroot kebab. There is that crunch again which reveals a deep red colour of the beetroot, and rather than just the usual mild sweetness of the beetroot, there is a spicy element added. Wow!
By the way, I also have the Chicken seekh kebab - three words only: tender and flavoursome. Maybe four words - unbelievably tender and flavoursome.
Next up, the Spice crusted macchi is then brought to our table. It is so refreshing to see an unusual fish over and above hamour, cod or seabass. Nile perch, something I have not had here before, is served baked. It is a wonderfully balanced dish, which includes porcini mushrooms, asparagus, korma and masala paste. Finally, it is really nicely presented with apple foam and watercress hovering on top. As for taste - this delicately flavoured fish gets all its flavour from what else is on the plate. Chef has cooked it to retain its moisture. While seabass is on the menu, for something different, I recommend this dish.
No evening at an Indian restaurant is complete without some curry. My daughter raves about the Butter chicken. It is child-friendly but still full of flavour. This is what I alluded to earlier. There is a lot of comfort in a dish like Butter chicken, and Chef Sandeep understands that, staying true to its essential elements.
For Indian restaurants with subtle twists that do not rob their dishes of their traditional integrity, there are maybe a couple in the city. What puts Punjab Grill Restaurant in front is the all round experience - the very knowledgeable Chef Sandeep, a view to die for, a restaurant that is aesthetically alluring with a bar that catches the eye without effort and of course, some sublime dishes.
adjacentt to Ritz Carlton,
+971 2 449 9839
Dinner for two excl drinks 300AED++