Hands down, Punjab Grill is one of the most sumptuous places to eat authentic Indian food in the capital. As you scan the interior – the plush leather seating enclaves, and glistening crystal lighting fixtures line the ceiling, and you swiftly realise that this modern Indian restaurant isn’t just a shiny bauble. Chef Sandeep Ail sees to it that the feast for the eyes extends to your plate.
Renowned across the Indian subcontinent for gourmet fine dining, and with more than ten restaurants worldwide, Punjab Grill’s presence in the Venetian Village was the first to open its doors in the Middle East. Punjab Grill presents authentic, traditional Indian cuisine with a blend of 21st-century flavours and presentation – certainly, a welcome treat for all the senses.
Here, you will embark on a true epicurean journey, where the menu is inspired by food from gourmet metropolises and states like Mumbai, Kundapur, Goa and Patiala. With his extensive understanding of Indian cuisine, as well as its versatility, Executive Chef Sandeep Ail ensures that the menu at Punjab Grill is a perfect balance of both traditional and modern impressions of Indian food.
Whilst the restaurant has an incredibly romantic outdoor seating area with far reaching views of the water, we decide to escape the chill of the evening air and dine within the welcoming ambience of the restaurant. Within minutes of taking a seat, our server arrives to our table with a warm welcome and introduction to our meal – papadum, dips and the most delicious selection of chutneys, all of which are faultless. I particularly enjoy the sweet tamarind dip. It is bright, it is fresh, packed with flavour and other subtler hints of spice.
Our meal begins with an assortment of starters including Palak Patta Chaat which features a crisp, fried spinach leaf topped with liquid baubles containing raw mango, tamarind, yoghurt, and raspberry sauces – each yummy on their own, but I personally enjoy mixing all the flavours for a palatable bite. A dish worthy of an award is the Watermelon Slider. When you think of watermelon, it’s only natural to imagine a sweet dessert or perhaps even a welcome accompaniment to breakfast, or a lunchtime salad. But no, Chef Sandeep Ail takes it two steps further with this incredible concoction made with fresh seedless watermelons from Australia, served with bean sprout chaat, a sprinkle of pomegranate jewels, fresh herbs and finished off with watermelon foam. This could quite possibly be one of the best things we’ve ever tasted.
Our Indian feast also includes Handcrafted Roasted Pumpkin Bread, Spice Crusted Tuna, Chicken Tikka Trio, Mushroom and Turnip Shawrma with Roomali Roti and Colocassia Dumpling. No matter what the dish, each and every plate is terrific on the aromatics.
Next on to the entrees and main courses. My partner is presented with Kundapur Lamb Chops served with grilled rainbow carrots and topped with a tangy nilgiri korma. For myself, a vast vegetarian spread which includes Paneer Tikka Masala, comprising of cottage cheese cubes dipped in a semi-spicy, rich and creamy tomato-based gravy, gorgeous presentation, and a fabulous combination of flavours and textures. Dal Makhani (dark lentils cooked in a dreamy, buttery sauce), Dum Aloo (spicy cubes of potato) and a mildly-spiced creamed spinach. All of which arrived at the table beautifully presented in a rainbow of colours, just as nature intended.
Desserts are also delicious, with a delightful trio of Masala Chai, Ginger and Chocolate Miniature Cakes and an Almond Halwa infused with mango and saffron, being just the right combination of sweet and refreshing to round off a very filling meal.
While there is no shortage of great Indian restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Punjab Grill certainly poses some great competition. The decor is stunning, cooking is confident, and presentation beautiful. For a story and comfort food, from cheesy naans to a fine desserts, Punjab Grill is the perfect choice.
Palak Patta Chaat, AED 50
Watermelon Slider, Sprouts Chaat, AED 50
Hand Crafted Roast Pumpkin Bread, AED 40
Spice Crusted Tuna, AED 65
Chicken Tikka Trio, AED 120
Mushroom and Turnip Shawrma with Roomali Roti, AED 80
Colocassia Dumpling, AED 85
Chaamp Taajdar (Lamb Chops), AED 175
Paneer Mutter, AED 90
Dal Makhani, AED 65
Dum Aloo, AED 85
Breads, AED 20 each
Pulao Rice, AED 45
Masala Chai, Ginger, Chocolate, AED 40
Almond Halwa, Mango and Saffron, AED 40
Punjab Grill, Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi, +971 2 449 9839