A quirky restaurant on the third storey of a slightly musty building in the heart of Koregaon Park – Boteco is like a breath of fresh air in the otherwise bleak Pune restaurant scene.
Brought to you by the proprietors of Go With the Flow of Goa, our experience at Boteco exemplified how a dynamic head chef/proprietor can make or break an establishment.
After a short wait at the lovely bar, we were shown to our table in the air-conditioned section set amidst the Spanish-inspired decor with a direct view into the open plan kitchen. In better weather though, we would definitely opt to sit out on the terrace.
While we kickstarted our meal with a bottle of a well-rounded Argentenian Malbec, Guto – the owner and head chef of Boteco soon showed up along with the menus. After taking one look at our faces and a few probing questions, he made a quick assessment of what he thought we would like to eat. While I am usually reluctant to leave the ordering up to the chefs/waiters (having had bad experiences of being served the most expensive dish on the menu as a consequence), Guto somehow inspired confidence and we waited with anticipation for this blind tasting.
What rolled out was simply perfect.
An appetiser of Escondidinho (home-made dried meat topped with mascarpone, parmesan cheese and lightly spiced pumpkin cream) was the first thing that found its way to us and the first bite left us wanting to order seconds immediately. It was simply outstanding! The dried beef was cured to perfection and when paired with the blend of gooey cheeses and pumpkin cream, the result was a flawless amalgamation of both texture and flavour.
The second appetiser was the Camarao do Chef. Golden fried succulent prawns topped with a tangy salsa. Just the right balance of crunch and juiciness. This dish, while well executed wasn’t able to live up to the high bar set by the dried beef.
Given that the meat dishes seemed to be the stars at Boteco, we decided to stick with meat in the main course and ordered a tenderloin steak with thyme butter and the Pork Belly. The tenderloin steak was cooked medium rare as per our request and was certainly amongst the better steaks that we have eaten in India (even in the pre cow-police era).
The highlight of the meal for us however was the pork belly with the best crackling that I have ever eaten. The pork belly melted in your mouth despite retaining a high meat to fat ratio. Eaten together with the crackling, it was pure heaven and as Guto rightly said – to eat that crackling with cutlery would be sacrilege so we quickly abandoned the fork and knife for our god given paws to break off bits of that perfect crunch. Served with a side of ham croquets, we quickly found ourselves transported back to the pintxo bars of San Sebastian that we had visited last year. Unfortunately this dish was so good and was devoured so quickly that we weren’t able to get a good capture of it on our camera phones.
By the time dessert rolled around we were in a meat coma but couldn’t resist trying the Profiteroles with ice cream and the lemon mousse. While the profiteroles weren’t exceptional, the lemon mousse was the perfect light, airy tart end to an exceptional meal.
Well priced at INR 1500/- per head for a three course meal with drinks, Boteco was such a revelation that we actually ended up dining there again the next night. So, the next time you’re in Pune and craving some wholesome, delicious food served with a side of entertaining company, you know exactly where to head.
Address: 302, Power Plaza, Lane No 7, Koregaon Park, Pune
Phone: 091587 49997