I have mixed feelings about Toronto’s annual winter culinary event, Winterlicious. Each year I find myself debating whether or not the three-course prix fixe menus are worth it, or if I’d be better off just ordering off the restaurant’s regular menu. However I always do end up making it out to try a few restaurants. I wouldn’t normally order three different dishes for myself, and Winterlicious is a good way to sample more of the menu than I typically would.
This year’s event took place from January 27th – February 9th, and I did have time to visit a couple of places for their Winterlicious menus. The standout for me was Pukka, a modern Indian gem tucked away on St. Clair West. At $28, their dinner menu fell within the lowest of three price tiers offered through Winterlicious. I had previously visited Pukka with a friend and enjoyed my experience, but had not had a chance to sample any of their entrees.
To start, I had the Pukka Chaat, a vegetarian dish I would say is similar to a salad, comprised of vegetable strings, rice crisps, pomegranate, green apples, mango, chutneys and yogurt. This was such a bright, fresh and delicious dish – the perfect start to a meal. According to Google, “Chaat” is a term used to describe savoury snacks served at food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
For my main, I had the Lamb Shank Xacuti, with coconut, red chili and fennel seeds. The dish came with basmati rice, but I also ordered some naan on the side. The lamb itself was extremely tender and fell off the bone, and the sauce that accompanied provided wonderful flavour with just the right amount of heat and a hint of ginger. This was an extremely large portion for the price point.
I chose the Mango Mousse to end the meal, which was velvety, rich and full of sweet mango flavour. By this time I was absolutely stuffed, but could not stop spooning up mouthfuls of this dessert!
The atmosphere at Pukka is intimate, with candles and dim lighting throughout. Our server was super friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. If you’re thinking of trying it out, I’d recommend the restaurant for date night or visiting with a group of friends, as many of the dishes are great for sharing. What I loved most about the food at this place were the bold flavours – every bite was interesting and had me going back for more. I had an awesome Winterlicious experience at Pukka and will definitely return!