The Ugly Duckling

11:37:00 Sudipti Singh 0 Comments

Barbecue season, smoking meat in the back-yard, kicking back and enjoying a side of smoked rib with a rub of barbecue sauce....A typical American weekend. But this is not the States and it's definitely not a barbecue season at our backyard, so what did we do? We popped over to The Ugly Duckling at Baner for our dose of smoked meat.

The Ugly Duckling may be relatively new in the eatery business in Pune but it's bringing some really fresh ideas to the table. They have embraced the 'low and slow' style of cooking. That means low temperature for a longer time and using smoke to cook out the meat. There are commercial smokers available for this purpose but importing one from the States is not cheap. So the team over at The Ugly Duckling got theirs customized and made in Pune itself.

The meat takes hours to fully cook. Chicken may take 2-3 hours and pork may take up to 8 hours. Yes, a real taste of patience. And I'm thankful it's not us doing the low-slow cooking because it is so out of our league. But fruits of labour does taste good. The end result is meat that is falling apart with smoky flavor infused in every juicy bite.

When we were invited over for a taste we were quite intrigued by the sound of the whole smoked thing. So we decided this required a thorough investigation. The Ugly Duckling at Baner-Pashan link road is easy to spot (though we did consult google maps most of the way). It is a small place but very endearing. Clean and simple decor with a upper seating area as well. The staircase leading up has its railings decorated with tiny cards signed by previous patrons and makes for a colorful display. We opted for the ground floor seating as we had a good view of the kitchen, a nice spot to watch the television from and also our friendly hosts were available at hand for any clarifications.

Niranjan who is a part of the three member team responsible for The Ugly Duckling along with Gaurav and Swapneel. They received us with warmth and made us feel more than welcome. In fact, they usually make sure to inquire after all the guests and are attentive to say the least. We really felt comfortable and at ease.

The menu is brief but that ensures they serve the best quality they can. Niranjan informed us that they keep changing their menu so that patrons don't tire of the place (after tasting their food I can't see how that might happen). So they have chalkboards up at the wall announcing the specials that may be available at the time that are not mentioned in the menu. You might also want to inquire with them about any new additions or dishes available. You might be in for a treat.

We were served a welcome drink from their new additions to the menu, suspiciously called DEAD POOL. Well, it was jalapeno-watermelon drink and true to it's name packed quite a punch. It was sweet yet with the kick from the jalapenos making the taste interesting. We really dug it.

Dead Pool

A good while into our tasting we also decided to try the STRAWBERRY MINT SODA which is apparently one of their bestsellers from the existing menu. Indeed it was refreshing with it's minty overtones to the strawberry bubbly and served chilled with a lot of ice.

Strawberry Mint

We started off with a LAMB MEAT BALLS made out of minced lamb meat coated with bread crumbs and fried. Then it's coated with a spicy marinara sauce and served on bed of lettuce. The balls though doused in the gravy, was still crispy and the insides were tender and had great seasoning. A perfect starter. It was quite large and came in fours a bowl, so it was shareable.

Meat Balls

Next was a STUFFED COURGETTE ROLL. It was lightly sauteed slices of zucchini rolled with filling of cream cheese, basil and peanuts.It was light and refreshing and great to cleanse your palate with. I'm personally not a big fan of peanuts (ok, I hate it) but Mr. TKD quite liked the simple yet quaint vegetarian starter.

Stuffed Courgette Roll

We started off our meaty journey with SMOKED CHICKEN and we opted for the MUSHROOM SAUCE. You can also opt for the barbecue sauce.
We had to stop and admire the plating for a while. These guys have previous experience in the hospitality sector and it shows at places such as plating. You might feel like you are eating at some ritzy restaurant and not some adorable cafe.
The breast of a chicken, perfectly smoked was cut into thick slices and put on a rectangular plate with sides of boiled and roasted potatoes and sauteed vegetables. The mushroom sauce was served in a gravy boat and in a good quantity, though it simply wasn't enough as we polished off every bit of it. The dish also came with a bread basket full of garlic bread, toasted to perfection. This was our favorite entree of the night.

Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

We also opted to taste the SMOKED DUCK in HONEY SOYA SAUCE and as before the plating was impeccable. The smoked duck looked mouth watering with the glaze and sauces on. It had sides of mashed potatoes and broccoli. This dish had a bread basket of garlic bread too.
The sauce with oriental influence tasted amazing with the duck meat. Mr.TKD was struggling with  the carving of the meat as the duck was tad more tougher than the chicken. The kitchen team swooped in and took care of the dish and brought it back much tender than before. Although, we did find the mashed potato slightly on the saltier side.

Smoked Duck in Soya Sauce

We were quite stuffed by the time we were halfway through the duck and swearing we couldn't have anything else when the FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE was brought in. It looked decadent in the cocktail glass with visible layers of chocolate and whipped cream. It was so sinful sinking in the spoon into the layers and coming up with rich, dark, chilled chocolate that even Mr. TKD, stickler of healthy eating couldn't stop. And we didn't until we wiped off the glass of the dessert. It was an amazing dessert and if nothing, we are definitely going back for just that.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Our meal was a memorable one thanks to the great warmth and hospitality extended by Niranjan, Gaurav and Swapneel, not to mention the superb food. It was surprising that we had been oblivious to it's existence until now give that we are forever looking for the perfect kukkad.

 The Ugly Duckling is doing its best to bring a fresh perspective to food and simply this warrants a visit to check out what's in store. And oh, while you are here please please please try the frozen hot chocolate, will you? You can thank us later. :)

The Ugly Duckling - BBQ Backyard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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