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Not a jolly experience

The wine comes to the rescue at this oddly-named Polynesian restaurant that serves forgettable food.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2010 02:11 IST

The Angove’s Chalk Hill Blue Shiraz Cabernet came with a screw top cap and that, in a wine bottle, usually gets my goat. But this Aussie red — a blend of the two grape varietals, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon — wasn’t bad.

Just that it came only after I made the trek to the bar counter from the table we were seated at for lunch after our noticeably challenged waiter disappointed us with his scant knowledge of what was or wasn’t available from the wine list he’d given us.

We were at a new Polynesian restaurant, somewhat oddly called Jolly Rogers and, after wiping away the drops of the Shiraz/Cab that the butter-fingered waiter had dropped on my plate and napkin, enjoying the full-bodied but still very middle-of-the-road wine.

And, taking in the ambience of the quite spacious restaurant. There was a lounge-y section with canopied low seating and comfortable sofas but also more formal seating, which we’d preferred for lunch. There was a long, high bar with Art Deco-style barstools and an open kitchen at another end. The walls were adorned with distinctive Hawaiian art — masks, spears and the like.

Then the food came. I wish it hadn’t. Polynesian (or Hawaiian) cuisine is multi-ethnic; it’s a fusion of what different immigrants — including American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese — brought to the islands, and we were looking forward to a feast. My companion, who’d been to Hawaii, raised our expectations by describing the sumptuous meals she’d had there some years back.

The penny began to drop with the very first course. We’d ordered a Roasted Chicken & Noodle Soup (Rs 175), which reminded us of the fare you usually get on trains run by the Indian Railway. We let that pass and focused on the starters. The Baby Cho Cho (Rs 195) were supposed to be succulent
marinated pork on skewers, which, to add to the effect, were presented to us on a mini grill right on the table. Fun, I thought, till I tried to eat them. They were uncooked. The Macadamia Nut Chicken (Rs 275) comprised flattened chicken breasts with a crust of crushed macadamia nuts and came with a white aioli-like dip. It just about passed muster, perhaps because of the novelty of tasting the macadamia.

The real disappointment was still to come — our main courses. We’d chosen a Wasabi Crusted Rack of Lamb (Rs 975) and a Grilled Sea Bass Miso (Rs 475). I am afraid I don’t know the words to describe how the lamb was. Suffice it to say that most of it was left untouched. The Sea Bass? Sometimes you must be grateful for small mercies — the fish was fresh and edible.

Fortunately for us, there were two servings of wine left in the bottle (Rs 3,800), which we sipped to wipe our palates and, hopefully, our minds, clean of the memories of a forgettable meal. How did I feel while settling the bill at Jolly Rogers? I do have a word for that: pirated.