Bet they brought the better Butter to Pune!

We find out why the Butter Bar & Kitchen at Balewadi High Street has created such a buzz in the Oxford of the East.

Thanks to it being an education and IT hub, Pune’s party crowd is younger and more cosmopolitan than that in other similar metros. The cooler weather seems to attract cooler people and we are not complaining. And this is the clientele that the Butter Bar & Kitchen has set out to woo, with its evolved cocktails and posh palate-pleasing menu.

Butter, pune, cocktails
Moody magic in the interiors. Image: Courtesy Butter Bar & Kitchen.

The feel

The 8,000 square feet space, with a sophisticated indoor bar and a more casual sprawling outdoor area enough to seat about 180 guests, is in keeping with Pune’s typical layout. Mumbai designer Minnie Bhatt has created cosy nooks along one side, which are perfect for couples and families, as well as long tables with natural, polished wood that run parallel to the long bar for groups of friends and colleagues.

Butter, pune, cocktails
Feeling Butter? The long tables and super deejay make for a great place to decompress with friends after a long day. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

Lots of tropical plants, cane furniture with whites, corals, coppers, all give Butter an apt smooth and easy feel, true to its name. The in-house deejay has the perfect playlist, which goes from easy listening to up-tempo Afro-Caribbean and other popular genres, without intruding on the conversation.

The idea is to make it accessible and yet a bit aspirational, explains the passionate Suryabhan R Shinde, who, along with his brother Hrishikesh and Sangram Shirole, owns this establishment as well as two other popular ones at the much-in-demand Balewadi High Street. He is excited to introduce us to the bar offerings and make recommendations on the menu.

Butter, pune, cocktails
Terracotta and cane give the long bar an earthy edge, while the ambient lighting adds an ethereal feel. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The drinks

While Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru are awash with drinks drowning in technique and terminology like fat-washed, barrel-aged, clarified, smoked, sous-vide or ‘cooked’ cocktails, these are concepts still rather fresh in Pune, especially outside the five-star hotel circuit. But Butter’s mixologists Nitin Tewari and Suyash Pande have crafted the menu quite cleverly, explaining the concepts via analogies that bring in theatre, dance, photography, painting, poetry, music, and cinema.

Butter, pune, cocktails
The whiskey-based Tyger Tyger Burning Bright is poetry in a glass, with hints of nutmeg and ginger. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

Each of the cocktails we sip on through the meal lives up to the hype. I love that they make their own infusions from fresh fruit such as berries and citrus, which elevates the drinks to a whole other level of taste, handcrafted and natural. I believe their fruity sangrias will add their own special music to a Sunday brunch, while the Tyger Tyger Burning Bright, with its smokey aromats of nutmeg and ginger in whiskey, is just right for the upcoming Christmas season. Rich with flavour and yet not overpowering the tastebuds, the drinks complement the culinary creations beautifully.

The meal

The food menu, like all the fashionable places these days, is cuisine agnostic but largely references European and Asian dishes, presented in a wide array of grazing boards, tapas, small plates, bowls, and desserts. The crowd-pleasing avocado and truffle are present in copious quantities, but put together in unusual ways, which makes us happy. For example, the Truffled Avocado Cracker, almost papad-like in texture but topped with thinly sliced avocado and truffle aioli, is the perfect posh ‘chakna’ to crunch on with your elegant cocktail.

Butter, pune, cocktails
Is it thin-crust pizza? Is it khichiya? No, it’s the clever Truffled Avocado Cracker! Image: Priya Pathiyan.

It’s a smart way to bring the Pune palate up to speed with what’s au courant in the A cities. The menu has several dishes that bridge the gap between the familiar and the flash. Like the burrata and textures of tomato salad, which we are encouraged to mash up before spooning onto our plates. Creamy and crunchy, tart and sweet, fresh and punchy, we get all of this in every mouthful. It’s intriguingly complex and yet so delightfully simple.

The seal

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The sensational scorched Brie with peaches and garlic. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

There are some very interesting and less obvious options on offer too. Oddly, the serving staff tries to dissuade me from ordering the scorched Brie with peaches and garlic, served with rhubarb compote and wasabi peas. And yet, it is the one that transforms my meal from satisfactory to sublime. The earthy and buttery Brie is in sharp contrast to the sweet-tart peaches, and I can’t help but wonder why this pairing has eluded me so far. That’s what I look for in a meal, something that surprises me with the simplicity of the idea and stupefies me with the deliciousness of its execution.

It’s like butter. Considered the simplest part of a feast, but, when it is done well, it’s rich and satisfying. Just like this better Butter we’re at this evening, I muse. The menu is vast, and the appetite limited, but I know I’ll be back to try more.

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Enjoying the pleasant ambience and chilled vibe. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

I’ve made space for the Bread Butter Jam dessert, featuring a silken butter pannacotta, pistachio baguette and rhubarb compote. But the Tiramysterious and the Godiva cookie with Maldon salt with orange & thyme ice-cream beckon for the next visit.

Butter, pune, cocktails
From drinks to desserts, Butter is better. Images: Priya Pathiyan.

Butter Bar & Kitchen

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)

Food: 8/10 | Drinks: 8/10 | Service: 7/10 | Décor: 7.5/10 | Vibe: 8/10 | One dish we loved: Scorched Brie with Peaches and Garlic | One dish that didn’t work for us: Crispy Lamb and Pepper Gyoza.

Address: Survey No. 18/2A, Vasudha V-18, Unit R-1, Ground Floor, Balewadi High Street, Pune | Contact: +91-7770004728 /+91-7770004729 | Timings: Noon to 1.30 am.

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