Hard Rock Café returns to Pune, infuses Indian cuisine into its signature style
Hard Rock Café holds a special place for music lovers, especially Rock music savants. While the vibe and drink offerings have not changed much, the food has got a 'Zanzanit' Maharashtrian kick to it!
“From the moment you step inside the Hard Rock Café, you are in the presence of greatness. There are legends on the wall, in the speakers, behind the bar, and at the grill.”
These lines come from Hard Rock Café’s (HRC) menu, which had to shut its shop in Pune’s Koregaon Park during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three years later, the café owners opened HRC in Pune’s Amanora Mall in Hadapsar.
HRC holds a special place for music lovers, especially Rock music aficionados. Since the 70s, the café has been paying homage to the G.O.A.T.s of the Rock music scene. One can see this in the vast collection of memorabilia displayed in glass enclosures throughout the café, which also makes for a unique interior set-up.
Who would not want to sip their Bahama Mamas next to Eric Clapton’s guitar or Madonna’s black velvet outfit?
Located at one end of the Amanora Mall, the café has an outdoor and indoor sitting area, with rock music playing in the background. The café has dedicated a small area inside for its Rock Shop that retails its iconic collectable merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies, pins, glasses, and drumsticks.
“Our alfresco dining area provides a simple yet enjoyable experience. Hard Rock Cafe embodies the spirit of music, maintaining strong ties to the global music community through support for local and philanthropic events on our stage,” says Regional General Manager Naveen Painuli.
The main attraction, however, is the YMCA gig that has garnered immense praise from its diverse array of guests internationally.
Pinauli adds, “The YMCA performance transcends the status of a mere song; it has evolved into a powerful emotion that resonates deeply with people. It goes beyond being a musical piece to become a symbolic and cherished element of our offerings. The connection people feel with the YMCA song is not merely auditory; it's an emotional tie that adds a unique and resonant dimension to their experiences at our venue.”
And it stands true when you see the HRC employees and the guests joining in together to perform the iconic rock song on stage.
Classic on the rocks
We started our evening with many HRC classic cocktails—Hurricane, Rhythm and Rose Mule, and Bahama Mama—all celebrating tropical flavours.
Hurricane is a take on the 1940s New Orleans classic, made with rum and a blend of mango, orange and pineapple juices, while the Bahama Mama celebrates the classic combination of coconut with rum.
On the other hand, served in a copper tumbler, Rhythm and Rose Mule is an ode to the Moscow Mule, created with refreshing flavours of passion fruit, green tea, and ginger in a mix of vodka and rose wine. One can hardly taste the alcohol as it’s masked by the rich flavour of passion fruit.
Gaurav, a mixologist at Hard Rock Café, Pune, also served us his creation called the Sunshine—a passion fruit, rosemary, and gin cocktail—with a bit of theatrics for the table. While serving, he lit a rosemary twig and dipped it into the drink, adding a subtle smokey flavour to the very gin-forward cocktail.
A fusion menu
The food served at HRC is a mix of both the original classics and local Indian favourites.
To pair with our cocktails, we ordered an Amritsari Fish Popcorn that was served on a bed of nacho strips. While the nachos weren’t crisp enough, the fish was fresh and melted in the mouth.
Next, we had the Tex-Mex Chicken Skewers, glazed with an in-house sauce. While we were cautioned about the high spice level, it was not so overpowering. When paired with the chilli cilantro sauce, it added a pleasant tang that cut the sweetness rendered by the Rhythm and Rose Mule.
HRC has also incorporated Maharashtrian cuisine into its menu.
One cannot miss the local favourite, Kothimbir Wadi, which are fritters made with pulses, coriander leaves, and spices that are first steamed and then cut into small pieces and fried. Undoubtedly, the Wadis bagged first place among the starters served to us, and here’s why.
The dish stood apart from its authentic self as it was served as an Indian chaat—very similar to a Paapdi chaat—with yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney, but packed with local spices and garnished with pomegranate seeds.
“It's intriguing to note that each Hard Rock Café tailors its menu to reflect local flavours, and we're delighted to introduce Puneri specials to the patrons... with the must-try dishes like Kothimbir Wadi and Zanzanit Misal Pav,” says Painuli.
He adds that the experience at HRC is as delightful as the music sounds. The menu constantly evolves with limited-time offerings and seasonal menus, ensuring a taste that matches the feel-good vibe.
The café sources the ingredients locally for most of its dishes, which go through a rigorous quality check before the chefs create their magic.
For the main course, we went with the legendary Messi Burger, named after the football legend and HRC brand ambassador Lionel Messi.
The American burger, however, was not messy. It packed two patties made with buffalo meat and chorizo slices, along with the usual fixings like cheese, caramelised onions, lettuce, and a sriracha sauce to bind the dish together. Accompanying it was its best friend—hand-cut french fries.
The tender meat almost melts in the mouth, while the chorizo adds the saltiness and lettuce the extra crunch to the otherwise moist burger.
The Mexican South of the Border Cottage Cheese was served with a portion of flavoured rice and a curry made with charred tomatoes and red bell peppers. The paneer was grilled with spices and accompanied by corn and tomato salsa.
The dish had a mild flavour and the paneer was soft, however, the curry’s rich sweet flavour overpowered the palate.
Lastly, to wrap the meal, we ordered the rich and creamy New York Cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce, and its tartness seemed quite balanced.
HRC is back in Pune, and it does not disappoint with its food and drink offerings. However, one might miss the vast array of memorabilia displayed on other HRCs around the world as the collection here is sparse.
Cost for two people: Rs 1500 – Rs 2000 (without alcohol)
Timings: 12 PM to 12 AM
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti