Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pune food journey

I was at Pune for a meet and had carried with me a list of food recommendations but as the purpose of the trip was different, I could fulfill less than half the list.
As planned, as soon as I checked into the hotel, I went to Darios, a vegetarian Italian restaurant, which came with high recommendation. It was advantageous to have it so close to my hotel and also that it runs through the day.
I ordered only for a salad and a pizza. This Caprigna salad, priced at Rs. 480/- was temptingly described as "Melted goats' cheese croutons served on a bed of mixed lettuce with pomegranate and creamy French dressing."  The quantity was generous but the taste didn't match the cost. Goats' cheese was a mere smearing on the bread; the mixed lettuce turned out to be a mix of lettuce and bitter basil; hard chewy stalks ; and not much evidence of a dressing. Nothing improved the taste--neither the addition of mayonnaise nor olive oil. On top of it, I got the standard response...'this is how we cook it in our restaurant.'

Caprigna Salad at Darios

The bread served in the beginning was quite soft though.

The thin crust pizza ordered, priced at 530/-,   was the Dario's special and came with tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked egg plant, potatoes, oregano and capers.When this is Dario's special, the expectation is high. The pizza base was good but had very sparsely scattered veggies for topping. To add insult to the injury, the waiter scattered some pineapple pieces on top of the pizza, without baking, to 'compensate' for the bitter taste in the salad  :(
The service was slow and shabby.
Not recommending this place to anyone...ever!

Dario's pizza

Didn't stay back for a dessert as I had enough of Darios. My next stopover was at the famous (blast-wala) German Bakery for desserts. The ambiance was pretty cool with outdoor seating. The bakery itself is tiny but had many diners.

I decided to have a go at their Tiramisu priced at 120/-. The first taste to hit the palate was that of bitterness. I enjoyed every bite of this thick, creamy, bitter coffee-like tiramisu.

Tiramisu at German Bakey
I took away this blueberry muffin, priced 80/-. This was quite good and remained fresh even on the next day.

Our meet happened at 11, East Street Cafe. The bus has nothing to do with the ambiance inside. There were some AC enclosures on the second floor and the ten of us were accommodated there. Hats off to the waiter for patiently catering to some screeching, excited bunch of senile oldies, each with her own specific demands.The food and the mock-tails were pretty decent.

11, East Street Cafe
We also wanted to explore the famous Kayani bakery, right next to East Street, but found it closed on a Sunday! I knew I'd miss the chance as there wasn't time to return to this place.

The dinner that night was my wish for a Maharashtrian Thali and my friend took me to Krishna Dining on FC Road. The thali, if I remember right, was priced at around 300/-. In thalis in Pune, the dessert is separately ordered and we went for Mango Kharvas (Junnu). The veg thali was  pretty decent but had a mix of non-Maharashtrian items like a paneer sabzi, chole etc., taking away from the authenticity of the thali. The dhokla was simply great!

Krishna Dining (also part of Wadeswar)

Kharvas in Krishna Dining

On the second day of our meet, we went to Amanora mall. We weren't interested in exploring the mall but were trying to find a perfect place to unwind. It was the middle of Dusshera and found 'kitchen arroma' advertising a special veg and non-veg thali on the occasion.
It being a Monday, the place was all ours. To top it, the veg thali priced at 250/- was simply amazing! Authentic Maharashtrian and the freshest ingredients used. I found this surprise find far surpass the  tastes of the more traditional Krishna Dining's thali.

At Amanora Mall
Looks like the Punekars have quite a taste for potato. There is either potato tikki or cutlet with their thalis.
Veg thali at 'kitchen arroma'
Normally I look for the traditional/local tastes when traveling, but couldn't control myself when I eyed Burger King at a mall. I had been wanting to taste at Burger King for long.
I wasn't too hungry and so went for a Regular (from regular, medium and king size) combo of Veg Chilli Cheese Burger priced at 145/- The burger was great and surpassed all I had at Hyderabad.

Veg Chilli Cheese burger at Burger King

While shopping off Lakshmi Road, I had this much-recommended Mastani, the famous Pune cold drink at a small road side dhaba off Sadashiv Peth. The price was 100/- for this! Roaming under the hot sun, this mix of ice cream, cream, mango flavors and juice brought the much needed respite.

Once the shopping was done, I went to R Bhagat Tarrachand, a vegetarian restaurant off Budhwar pet, recommended by a friend. The place is fortunately open till 4 pm. As I was starved by then, I quickly ordered for the dish of the day which happened to be this Paneer Hill Top priced at 200/-. Awesome, soft, fresh and well-marinated, it was a great start to the meal.

Paneer Hill Top 200

Next was the Malai Kofta (180/-) and Garlic Nan (70/-). The garlic nan was soft yet crisp and full of flavors. The malai kofta was a bit tepid but I was kind of forewarned. It was a bit too creamy though not sweet actually.

Malai Kofta at R Bhagat Tarrachand, Pune

Garlic Nan at R Bhagat Tarrachand, Pune

The last purchase was at Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, off Sadashiv Peth, the original store. I bought a Kachori to see what it tastes like. And the thinnest crust with the sharp flavors of urad dal inside didn't  disappoint at all.

Kachori from Chitale Bandhu

My family and I had the pleasure of having a go at these traditional, Maharastrian items: the Dink Ladu, Amba Wadi, Sheng Dana Ladu, Chivda, Puran Poli, Potato Sev, all these at a mere cost of Rs. 400!

From Chitale Bandhu
Though I had the desire to explore food options in the small and big eateries at Pune, the paucity of time didn't allow me to explore beyond few. The post on my Gujarat trip was definitely a more insightful guide to Gujarati food. My food journey in Pune didn't really help me form an opinion about it.Yet, what I found was that the food in small or big places in Pune is definitely much more expensive than those found in Gujarat.or even Hyderabad.
Well, I hope I can go there again to look at more options.