Spice Island – Restaurant Review
Looks like my search for a great Thai place in Pune is finally over! This past week, I got a chance to visit Hotel Le Meridien’s ‘Spice Island’ restaurant. It specializes in Chinese and Thai cuisine.
As you enter the restaurant, you notice an exquisite setting and ambiance. I cannot think of many restaurants in Pune with this level of table spacing and sitting comfort & privacy. The decor is nice and simple. It was natural to compare the Spice Island with ‘Whispering Bamboo’ (A similar restaurant in Hotel Taj Blue Diamond). Spice Island clearly beats its chief rival as far as all these initial preference criteria are concerned.
The wine list is pretty decent and so is the bar selection. The main menu provides a good selection of the standard as well as the hard to find Chinese and Thai dishes. For appetizers, we tried the Chicken Satays and Fried Vegetable Wontons. The Satays were excellent; the best I have had in Pune. The Wontons were average.
As we discussed the main course and browsed further through the menu, an interesting fact appealed to us. Many of the popular dishes are available in ‘Half Order’ sizes. The half order portions are also pretty decent. They are priced at about 60% of the regular dishes. This is very convenient when you are dining in a small group and still want to sample multiple different choices.
For dinner, we ordered the Green Curry Vegetables and Kung Pao Chicken. The Green Curry was perfect. The right consistency, the right spice level…just perfect. Ditto as far as the Kung Pao Chicken was concerned. I would highly recommend both these dishes. Both these preparations reminded me of the great Thai and Chinese food I was used to, in good US restaurants.
The service was discrete and attentive. Oh…and did I mention the great live music?! When we were having our dinner, a couple of American Software Executives were really enjoying the band’s performance and kept providing a series of good song requests – popular songs, primarily in the soft rock and country music genres.
A dinner for two at the Spice Island would run into Rs. 1000 – Rs. 1500, without drinks. It is a little pricey, but in my opinion totally worth it. We had a great experience. The only place I would compare this with would be the aforementioned Whispering Bamboo, which is comparable on food, but scores lower on sitting ambiance and price. I would highly recommend Spice Island for anyone wanting to try out excellent Thai and Chinese cuisine in Pune.