Recently, I got a chance to visit the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe, Pune. This is their fourth location in India. Having previously visited this restaurant in Dallas and Tokyo, I was looking forward to my visit to the Pune location. I am a fan of the typical American Food (if there is such a thing!) that you get at Hard Rock Cafe. And having not traveled to US in a while, I was dying for some good Chicken Wings and Burgers! I guess you do get these things in Pune, and they are ok – however I was missing that ‘authentic’ American taste. Hard Rock Café, Pune didn’t disappoint me at all. But more about the food a little later in this review.
Hard Rock Cafe is located in the same complex as ‘Stone Water Grill’ (another favorite of mine), off North Main Road in Koregaon Park. In another few months a huge Westin will be opening nearby. Talk about a great restaurant & hotel alley in Pune!
As you enter, you see the Hard Rock Cafe store (a standard feature in all Hard Rock Cafes. It sells branded merchandize…). I haven’t yet seen anyone wearing the ‘Hard Rock Cafe – Pune’ T-Shirt J . Hard Rock Café – Las Vegas, Hard Rock Café – Miami, that sounds a bit familiar… and now Hard Rock Café – Pune… Somehow it sounds a little weird…but I for one am definitely not complaining!
As you enter the main restaurant, you will see a huge (and I mean HUGE) hall. The walls are decorated with classic Hard Rock artists’ memorabilia – Bob Dylan, U2, to name a few. The central area has bar-stools for sitting. The regular tables are arranged around the periphery. The ambience is typical Hard Rock Café – the star attraction being the loud rock music playing in the background (yes, this is not the place to go, if you want to have a ‘quiet’ dinner J ). They have live performances on certain days. The décor is quite contemporary and simple. The one-thing that really appeals to you is the level of standardization these American restaurants try to achieve across their chain restaurants. This goes down all the way to the plates, glasses, and cutlery.
We arrived a little early in the evening and the place was reasonably empty (note – it did get nearly full by the time we left…and it was a week-day). They didn’t have live music that day, but the DJ was playing a nice selection. I was also able to provide him some requests and he promptly obliged. It’s always great listening to Eagles and Queen!
The bar menu is nice – Quite a decent list of cocktails and other drinks. The appetizers are one of the star attractions. The main-course menu has a big selection of typical American dishes (Burgers, Steaks, Some Mexican Fare, Chicken-Wings, Salads, etc.) I know that Hard Rock Café tries to have a little localization in the menu, but was still surprised to find a fairly extensive list of Indian Food Items?! I wonder who would eat Roti/Butter Chicken at Hard Rock Café J. And on top of it, they called it ‘Puneri Menu’ or something like that? Really odd!
I liked their Margarita. Most Pune restaurants don’t make it that well. For appetizers, we had the Chicken Tenders and Potato Skins. Both were awesome. I enjoyed the Bleu Cheese dressing with the Chicken after a long time. For main-course we tried a couple of fairly simple and standard dishes – Chicken Sandwich and Fajitas. The nicely grilled Chicken Sandwich came in a portion size that you rarely see outside of America. And the dish was packed with Fries…health food is definitely not a specialty here! We also tried the Fajitas – this was the only item we found to be average. The grilled Fajita Chicken was great; however the Tortillas weren’t. And they didn’t serve Mexican Rice with the Fajitas. Hope they improve on it.
The appetizers and main-course did leave us stuffed, and with no room for desserts. The dessert menu did look quite interesting…definitely something for the next visit.
The service was excellent. In fact, one of the senior serving staff members explained to us how they went through a long and comprehensive training program, before the restaurant opened. It definitely made a difference.
For its brand and iconic status, Hard Rock Café Pune was not outrageously expensive. A dinner for two, with drinks would run into Rs. 1400 – Rs. 1800; comparable with other similar restaurants in Pune. Reservations are recommended. If you enjoy live music, check their performance calendar.
Here’s some general information about the restaurant:
Type of Restaurant: Casual Dining
Type of Cuisine: American
Phone: (20) 40158888
Spot it on SadakMap: http://www.sadakmap.com/p/Hard-Rock-Cafe-2/
Location: Located on the River Front on North Main Road, Koregaon Park.
Directions: Continue past ABC Farms and Army Sports Institute on North Main Road and then take a left (there is a sign for the restaurant and Hard Rock Café. On the right hand side – you will notice a restaurant, ‘Chillies’). Common parking lot for Stone Water Grill and Hard Rock Café.
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