Thursday, January 08, 2015

Being a foodie in Pune, 2015: Twenty eateries big and small

Tired of going to the same places over and over again, and wondering where to head to for some lip-smacking good food in Pune? Here is a short reckoner.

[Photos coming soon.]
[Disclaimer: Highly subjective and skewed towards west Pune, Continental cuisine. The emphasis is on taste and value-for-money, casual dining than on fine dining.]

In no particular order, here is my list of 20.

1.    Le Plaisir – A tiny bistro with a big heart on Bhandarkar Road. Must try Croque Madame sandwich, sachertorte and red velvet cake. Their macarons are among the best in town. They are open only till 9.30 pm.

2.    Tien – A pretty unique bistro in Model Colony that serves Japanese, Mexican and Continental. Top stuff here including salmon and prawn sushi and nice Thai curries. But I especially like their Hot Chocolate. They close at 10 pm.

3.    Wholly Crepes – Right next to Tien and the crepes here – sweet and savory – are yummy.

4.    I M Lion – Maharashtrian coastal and Goan meat and fish delicacies cooked with home-made recipes and masalas, at very good prices. I haven’t had better kombadi vade. Their fish preparations are absolutely top-notch. Location: Bavdhan, near Aditya Shagun Mall, next door to Axis Bank.

5.    Dezio’s – Dario’s meat-serving counterpart by the same chef Dario Dezio. Somewhat smaller portions but great pastas and wood-fired Pizzas. Location: Kalyani Nagar, near Jogger's Park, Marrakesh lane.

6.    Flour Works – Right next door to Dezio’s and serving delectable mains, pizzas, pastas, desserts and beverages, this is a place you shouldn’t miss for anything

7.    Dilli Chaat Darbar on Bhau Patil Road – your search for the real good Chhole Bhature shall end here. Their regular chaats are also quite nice. They are open only till 10.30 pm.

8.    Giani Ice Creams – Opposite Marrakesh in Kalyaninagar, they serve some fab ice cream sundaes. Killer chocolate sundae and Belgian Chocolate on waffles are a must have. Slightly expensive.

9.    Rajmandir Ice Creams – They are a branch / clone of the original Kolhapuri Rajmandir ice creams. If you haven’t tried their peru (guava) ice creams sprinkled with red chilli (yes that’s right) you haven’t let your tongue explored a new dimension of taste yet. Have it to believe it. And it’s cheap. Location: Karve Road.

10.    Café Mezzuna – Run by Speciality Group and right next door to Mainland China on Boat Club Road, this place serves some fine European cuisine. Try their lamb chops, pork ribs and all the fish / sea-food. And yes, the crème brulee and panacotta.

11.    German Bakery - Loved their beef stroganoff, fish n chips, bun masca (garlic bread rolls infused with butter) and the variety of teas. Haven't been to the newly opened one on Law College Road (in place of the old Mocha Cafe).

12.    Pink Butter Cafe - Located in 1 Modibaug near the FC Road crossing flyover, being here is an experience in itself. Done up like a doll house with baby pink walls, comfy seats, and with beautiful French music playing (Charles Aznavour, Alain Barriere, France Gall and a certain Edith Piaf), this place alongside its twin boutique Mairah is a unique bistro that serves some lovely teas, scones and crepes, not to mention the super awesome pastries. Must try: Hazelnut Belgian Chocolate crepes, Hazelnet Mousse cake, Cointreu orange zest crepes, etc.

13. Curry Leaves - On Baner Pashan Link Road, Curry Leaves is the best non-veg Keralite food place this end of the town. It is quite cheap, and pretty decent on space and cleanliness. What to try? Definitely their egg appams with any of their spicy curries, roasts or fries. But if you like beef, ask for Potu Fry (not on the menu).

14.    Papajee’s – Spine Road in the back of beyond industrial belt somewhere between Pimpri, Bhosari and Akurdi, you don’t go there without a GPS on phone and plenty of energy to drive. But once there, you can expect some authentic dhaba style non-veg and veg-food and excellent naans unlike anything you get in Pune. A pretty good Punjabi meal!

15.    Stew Art – Tucked away in a lane near MIT College (Rambaug Colony), this small eatery claims to be India’s only Stew Restaurant. Reasonably priced full meals of stew served with rice and some fab brown bread, it’s worth a few visits. Try their Hungarian goulash and Stroganoff stews. The food is more fresh and guilt-free than rich and lip-smacking but a very good option to eat out if you want something light on the pocket and the tummy.

16.    Smiley House – Authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a small eatery run by mom and daughter. If you like light flavourful meals, you’d love most of their stuff. Not many options for vegetarians and service is quite slow. Their Vietnamese Cold Coffee is quite a treat but the trick is to let the ice melt. Location: Behind Medipoint Hospital Aundh, near Smokin' Joes Pizzas. Open only till 9.30 pm.

17.    Akhtar’s Samosa’s and Kebab Pav next-door – Standing at the head of Saifee Lane (parallel lane between East Street and MG Road not too far from Baghban), Akhtar’s Samosa cart sells meat-filled patti samosas that are cheap and tasty. Next to him stands another guy who sells chicken and beef kebab pavs at 15 rupees a piece.

18.     Café 1730 Beans and Booze – Lane 8 Koregaon Park near Sanskriti Lifestyle – great place to hang out and have finger food, including some reinvented Goan classics.

The best:
19.    Le Boucheé d’Or – A small piece of heaven on Puneri earth, it means mouthful of gold and it’s worth the name. It’s a French patisserie/boulangerie run by expat chef Brice Poisson. They are expensive but let that not be a deterrent. What to try: especially the Almond Chocolate / Pistachio Chocolate / Almond / Pistachio croissants, the raspberry cheese cake, apple pie something. And yes, the best macarons in town. They are on Boat Club Road near Mainland China, and also in Aundh next to DAV School on DP Road. They are open only till 7.30 pm, true French defiance.

20.    Stone Water Grill – Yes SWG has been reinvented and their emphasis on gourmet fine dining has only got bigger. The food is fantastic, the prices equally so. Put on a swanky look, go there and splurge, but enjoy the great continental food. Location: Koregaon Park Annexe, near Hard Rock Cafe.

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