Noc Noc is the third property in as many years to occupy the premise on Kavuri Hills. It boasts of an al fresco dining section by the garden and a sparsely decorated indoor dining area by the bar counter. Although Noc Noc is situated just minutes away from the busiest parts of Hi Tec City, the tables under the shade of the trees offer a bit of quiet and serenity. Noc Noc is yet to get its liquor license, but it serves alcohol on weekends. I’m told that on weekends, after the sun goes down, it transforms into a lively hang out spot.
The menu at Noc Noc follows the path charted by many youth-oriented gastro pubs. The food selection draws inspiration from global influences but sticks to flavours that are familiar. It’s a mix of classics from differents parts of the country and the globe along with a few attention grabbing, quirky fusion dishes. The flavours might feel familiar but it’s not boring.
Tandoori Momos are quite a rage in Delhi, but my prior experience with this dish in Hyderabad was rather forgettable. Noc Noc, however, doesn’t pull its punches. It’s not just regular Momo with a bit of tandoori sauce or a hint of charring. This one is actually cooked in the Tandoor, which lends it a delightfully charred crust with a hint of crispiness. The Veg Momo lost a lot of its moisture in the intense heat of the Tandoor and needs a bit of tweaking, but on the whole Noc Noc definitely changed my opinion about Tandoori Momos. I’m eager to try these again. Reddy Fried Chicken is another dish that put a smile on my face. These are chicken popcorns with a chatpata, spicy marinade that makes this dish quite simply unputdownable. A perfect foil for a pint of beer or a glass of Rum. In the Whisky Garlic Prawn, the alcohol was barely perceivable, but the prawns were cooked beautifully and that’s all you really need. Mustard Fish is River Sole marinated in Bengali Kasundi, which lends it a more pungent flavour than English Mustard. This dish might not appeal to everyone, but I was definitely not complaining. Not everything worked as well though. The Falafel had more in common with the vadas you might find on the streets of Hyderabad than with a Falafel.
The Mushroom Cappuccino is becoming an increasingly common sight in Hyderabad and with good reason. There are many versions of this soup. Some like it frothy and light, while some like it thick like a velouté. While the classic recipe doesn’t call for any actual coffee, I’ve come across recreations that have benefited from a hint of bitterness lent by coffee. I prefer my Mushroom Cappuccino to be thick but with a topping of garlic infused froth. Noc Noc garnishes theirs with mascarpone froth and mushroom dust, which is delicious. However, the body of the soup is a tad too light for me. In the salads, the Gorgonzola Walnut salad with apple and greens dressed in mustard with a sprinkling of walnuts seemed tempting. However, the sharpness of the Gorgonzola was way too aggressive and overpowering for my palate. The Fattoush was tame by comparison, but it was my kind of salad. Gentle and refreshing with a mix of textures.
While the first few courses gave me plenty to be pleased with, the mains got off to a shaky start. The Pepperoni Pizza was below par, mainly due to the muted flavour of the pepperoni. The Beef Steak was cooked well beyond the ideal medium-rare and as a result was dry, chewy, and devoid of any flavour. The Bistro Burger with a beef patty wrapped in bacon and topped with sunny side up looked tempting, but the dissapointing beef was its undoing. The Butter Chicken Risotto wasn’t the disaster that I was afraid it’d be but was it better than a bowl of classic risotto? Not really. For the Indian palette, Risotto is often an acquired taste. While this creation attempts to make it more appealing to the local palette by spicing up the dish, it loses the soulfulness that makes Risotto such a brilliant comfort food. The vibrant Lamb Tagine, a slow cooked African lamb dish with couscous, did its bit to resuscitate the main course, but the real star was the humble Stuffed Chicken. A simple dish featuring a stuffing of cheese and mushroom that nailed the execution.
Noc Noc is yet to get in its groove, and that was apparent. The meal got off to a great start with a host of fabulous appetisers, but the main courses had an equal number of hits and misses. However, it’s still early days for the property and the owner was all ears about our feedback. The menu is well crafted and Noc Noc is brimming with potential. A few tweaks and improved execution can do wonders for the place. The dishes are priced reasonably with most starters being south of Rs. 300 and mains being south of Rs. 400.