www.pukka.ca 416.342.1906 open for dinner mon-sun
Not your mothers Indian, scrolled on the front windows of the restaurant, refers not only the modern take on traditional dishes but also to the sleek, clean, minimalist décor – the bare minimum – and it works really well. At first I was surprised to find a rather small wine list created by Peter Boyd (sommelier at Scaramouche), however, after sampling a few of their wines I understand why. Each wine has been carefully selected to match the intense spices and flavours of each dish. The menu is small, though, hard to choose from. We needed time. But sadly after a few attempts to subdue our hovering waiter proved to be futile, we gave in and ordered.
Mixed vegetable Pakoras $7.8 offer a sharply seasoned debut to the meal, especially dipped in a zingy tomato chutney. Vegetable string chaat $8.7 (puffed rice, sprouts, chutney, sweet yogurt) offers a textural wonderland of sweet fruit colour and tartness. The baby kale salad $8.4 is simple perfection tossed with dates and lotus chips in a spiced cashew dressing (oh, I’d come back for this one).
Tandoori smoked eggplant tartare $7.9 with khasta roti is superb, as is the gunpowder prawns $15.8 that is nicely offset by a savory-sweet pineapple chutney. South Indian fried chicken 65 $9.4 arrives smothered in a hits-you-with-intense-flavour chili-tamarind sauce, then almost instantly subsides into a rich mild flavour.
Coconut curry leaf pan-seared pickerel $19.8 fills the senses with aromatic delights, careful not to overwhelm the delicate flaky fish. The butter chicken $18.4, however, lacks requisite spice and the tomato infused butter sauce is sickly-sweet. A 2005 Voss Vineyards Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley $8.5 ends the evening with a long, balanced spicy citrus finish.