The homebody that I am, eating out back in Delhi meant the once a year best friend’s birthday, the Daddy got promoted treat and the we-are-getting-married-come-eat dinners. Time’s been rushing past and I will soon complete a whole year in Pune. Time to take stock, sit back and reflect on major decisions that life has been bringing forth… time to finally cross fences and choose between paneer pasanda and paneer tikka masala.
September happens to be birthday season here in MKCL and that makes me want to give some gyan on my tryst with Pune’s restaurants. Here are five of them in no particular order of like or dislike:
We have been here umpteen number of times and like the first few delicious spoonfuls of dessert, the charm has jaded and faded. But for a first timer to this grand and bountiful food treasury, there can be no question of disappointment. Yes, you may have to wait for a while but the sights and sounds of decked up people in their best finery should keep you occupied. At 150 a thali and unlimited food – which by the way includes a number of sabjis, crispies, dhoklas, dahi vadas, orange drinks (Rasna?), rice, khichdi, papad, the works – Sukanta is your best option for a birthday or an impending wedding celebratory party.
PS: Much in the same league are Durvankur (Tilak Road) and Shreyas (Deccan).
Location: Karve Road
Typical contemporary restaurant with its name sprawled in bright big green letters, it has a fairly big sitting area spanning across two floors. A three course meal for twelve can easily fit in the up to 2000 bracket even when you are tagging along overworked and starved software developers. Their sizzlers are interesting and bring to steam point a good number of adjacent tables.
Anand (Kothrud) is a good option as well, even though it has a floor of rather cave like sitting.
Location: FC Road
Nope, they didn’t shoot the ghumte me chanda hai song here but *no exaggeration* they can definitely fool you into believing you don’t live in the 21st century. What looks like a quaint and tiny little eatery from outside with a Charminar embossed door the only interesting sight, opens up to a world of exquisite Hyderabadi wonder. Right from tables set up in semi darkness with old worldly lamps for light to a whole wall of a realistic Golconda fort depiction, Koyla took me by delightful surprise. It has red and green bangles lined up in a corner… a stunning chandelier set amidst soft canopy curtains… melodious strands of ghazals by Jagjit Singh playing in the background at just the right volume… and oh my, you can’t not be enticed. Yes, dinner costs a loot but trust me, it’s worth it.
PS: Koyla is perfect for that candlelight dinner you have been longing to go to with your sweetheart. Otherwise, go in as a tourist, pretend to take a look at the menu with the intention of a future booking and smoothly exit to dine at Shravan or Lalit Mahal. (Good food and light on the pocket restaurants in the same lane). Psst, that’s NOT what I usually do!
4. Yummy Treat
Location: Senapati Bapat Road
They serve you Lebanese chicken which you can see rotating in the grills all around. It’s pretty yum if you like that sort of thing. The vegetarian food here is quite edible as well but the quantities are minuscule. Nothing fancy to write home about, except perhaps the I-am-modern name compared to its neighbours – the pure desi Sai Dhaba and Akshay. We are frequent visitors here given its proximity to our place. For a casual lunch or dinner, its yum yum yum.
PS: Do try the chicken biryani.
* Update * : They just closed ! I need to find out asap if they have moved or gone for good.
Oh yeah, you can look this way again… it’s a 3 star *luxury* restaurant. Far removed from civilization, err, downtown, it’s a rather gloomy dark brown building near the Chatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex. Driving in at night you can be fooled into thinking it has shut shop. But on a serious note, the food is worth the drive. We went in for a buffet on a joint birthday treat and found ourselves wishing we had eaten less at lunch. Soup – five kinds of salads – starters both vegetarian and fleshy – a main course on similar lines – jalebis, halwa, ice-cream and mousse for dessert – not to forget assorted Chinese – true blue delight. If you are willing to splurge, this is the place to be. Ensure you have transport.
I just took an elevator back to the ground floor and I can smell lunch tiffins. Back in dreary reality, a plate full of aloo methi and watana curry up in the Level 9 cafeteria is what I am going to get to eat.