December 21, 2007

Adieu to Pune - I

Have been in Pune on and off for the last 5 years and have enjoyed this city so much that it tops my list as the 'want to live here' city. But, wifely (is there such a word?) duty calls to Mumbai. So, decided to write about my most fav spots and places in Pune, you know in a kind of closure attempt. And, hopefully, as a guide to anyone who cares to find and read this ;)

I don't think all the Pune darshan is going to fit into one post, so here is the first part- and going to cover two delightful loves (obsessions?) of mine: the shopping scene and restaurants here.

Pune is a haven for any foodie worth his salt. You can find almost every cuisine to satiate your craving. Whats more, with the city growing by leaps and bounds into a metro, there are great restaurants mushrooming all over town.


  • La Pizzeria/Little Italy, Bund Garden - The one thing I love about them is that the food tastes the same in all their branches I have been to: Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore. The ambience is great and the food is just amazing. My favorite.
  • La Dolce Vita, Bund Garden - Has a kind of relaxed cafe feel to it. Love the food.
  • Curves, Koregaon Park - Has a small selection of Italian dishes on eclectic menu. Almost everything in this restaurant is curved, even the cutlery. The ambience is better than the food.
  • The Ship, Kalyaninagar - Offers a selection of Italian dishes on its multi-cuisine menu. Great decor and the bar is one of the most impressive one I have seen in Pune. I recommend.
  • Casanova, Kalyaninagar - Great ambience, but I found the food a tad insipid.
  • Polka Dots, Kalyaninagar - An outdoor cafe of sorts, their eclectic menu include some Italian dishes. I simply love this place. I recommend.


  • Mainland China, Bund Garden - THE place to go to for great Chinese food. Used to love their honey noodles with ice-cream till they re-invented their menu.
  • Chinese Room, Camp - Good food, decent ambience.


  • Koyla, Koregaon Park/FC Road - Hyderabadi cuisine with a nawabi decor to match. The FC Road one has limited seating and is pretty cramped. Food is great and they serve the best shahi tukra that I have tasted yet.
  • Sigri, Bund Garden - Has both a la carte and buffet options and outdoor and indoor seating. The outdoor seating overlooks the river and is pretty cool at night. The food is good and the portions sizeable and the decor is great.
  • Horn Ok Please, FC Road - Its like a theme restaurant - all dhaba style with truck graffiti and all-out Punjabi food. I have this thing for theme restaurants with really imaginative ideas. Their menu, ambience and food make a great package. Try the tandoori paneer. Warning: Long waiting lines during the weekends.

Other Cuisines/Multicuisine:

  • German Bakery, Koregaon Park- A famous land mark. Frequented most by nearby Osho Ashram's disciples, the place serves a great variety of omelets, pastries, pancakes, cakes and don't forget to order a hot cup of masala chai. A bit on the steeper side though. The seating is a Spartan cafe style affair.
  • Arthur’s Theme, Koregaon Park- Offers mainly French cuisine and the food is great. Has a small selection of wines to choose from as well. Both indoor as well as outdoor seating. Warning: Long waiting lines on the weekends, so reserve a table in advance and bring your plastic along.
  • Bounty Sizzlers, Kalyaninagar - A really great place for sizzlers. They have a great selection to choose from and have different portion options too. Offers beer, wine, great flavored sodas and its very different iced coffee. Very informal seating. I have a grouse because of the low ceiling and cramped seating, but can't keep away from the great food.
  • Yana Sizzlers, FC Road/Adlabs Kalyaninagar - Okie dokie food, great advertising.
  • Polka Dots, Kalyaninagar/Aundh - Owned by an ex-Taj chef, this place offers Italian, Mexican, Indian, Thai and assorted dishes like Fish and Chips. Do save some tummy-space for dessert - all of their desserts are amazing, sinful!!! My favorite restaurant: French fries, pastas, enchiladas, nachos, dal makhni, desserts - manna from heaven!!
  • The Ship, Kalyaninagar - An interesting menu of Greek, Italian and other cuisines. You can find a great ratatouille, pastas, and a good wine selection to go along with it. Do book your table in advance. Great ambience, it is decorated like a ship with sails and lifebuoys and all. Really nice place to chill out after work.
  • Flag's, Next to Inox, Camp - A great place, cuisines from all around the world. The portions are filling and the food, delicious. The service is great and prompt. The ambience is relaxed and great. They even called back next day to enquire about the dining experience. Choose from the extensive spirits menu or order their mocktails. I loved the food here. I had the moussaka and it was heavenly.
  • High Spirits Cafe, Koregaon Park - In one word, disappointing. Not worth the hype. I don't know if it was one of their off days or their kitchen is not meant to dish out more than one main course at a time, but our food arrived cold and when we sent it back they said that they would have to reheat it one dish at a time as they didn't have enough micorwaves to nuke them. Seriously! They have an exhaustive spirits menu with everything from mojitos to martinis on offer. Strictly for spirited people looking for a 'high spirits' night without food. Oh, the decor and ambience is great. They have a nice wilderness-type garden with interesting secluded little nooks and tables. What a waste!
  • 11 East Street Cafe, East Street, Camp - The ambience is really cool, open but without an A/C. The intention was to recreate a British street cafe, literally, and they have done it and how!! They even have a double decker bus at the entrance that doubles up as a waiting area and a dessert station - the kids just love it. They have created faux shop windows and entrances to keep up with the street-cafe ambience, complete with a fountain-square, plants, street lamps and street names (like oxford street). This cafe also boasts of a hookah bar sort of thing on the first floor and an exclusive vegetarian joint at the back of the cafe is going to added soon. Now, the food. Excellant food, my only grouch was the service. Most of the staff was just running around and everything looked a tad chaotic. Then again, its a new restaurant, hardly a month old so I think things will be better soon. The food though is excellant and they have a great dessert selection as well. Everything we ordered was great. Try the English ratatouille and the amazing Irish coffee mousse.


  • Mocha, Koregaon Park/Senapati Bapat Road - Great ambience, good music, great crowd, and amazing desserts to go along with your favorite cup of java. Also a great selection of pita sandwiches, brushchettas etc.
  • The usual chains of Cafe Coffee Days and Baristas abound and are great to hangout at.

Must visit places/Hangouts:

  • Durga, Near MIT College, Kothrud - A hangout for most MITians and indeed most students living in and around Kothrud and Karvenagar, its a meeting place for outstation students as well as being a traffic menace as the place is on a main road with no parking and youngsters converging in hordes: standing, sitting on bikes (where they are served as well). Try the bhurji pav, missal pav, and never never forget to try the cold coffee which comes at an astounding 8 rupees and is the better than any cold coffee served at any fancy cafe. Fond memories and canteen like atmosphere pull people to this place.
  • Good Luck Cafe, FC Road - One of the few Irani cafes still surviving and dishing out the same delicious fare and same ambience. Try the bun maska for breakfast with a cup of their chai or a stomach-filling bun omelet. Non-veggie people can try their bheja fry. They have a huge menu, lots of regulars and it is a great place for an early breakfast with your newspaper before the traffic hits FC Road. I loved this place and was a regular for the bun omelets or bun butter jam and caramel custard.
  • Joshi wadewale, all around Pune/Bal Gandharv, JM Road - THE place to get the perfect wada pav. Second only to Mumbai's Fountain wada pav.
  • Chaitanya, FC Road - A mess of sorts, this place is jam-packed at meal times. All kinds of parathas and paneer preparations served with plain parathas under 30 bucks. Our friends (guys, obviously) used to have paratha eating marathons - you know the how-many-aloo-parathas-can-you-down-and-keep-them-down kind of dares. Rich parathas, fruit custards, lassi, and a boisterous crowd.
  • Vaishali, FC Road - Don't ever visit FC Road without dropping by. This landmark place is famous for its clean kitchen (you can walk into the kitchen if you have any doubt), great food, and the ever present waiting. Don't be surprised to see tables reserved at the breakfast hour, they have been reserved since years - senior citizens out for a walk at the Fergusson college ground gather here for a spot of tea and steaming idlis or sandwiches. Its great to watch them and so is watching people in jogging and gymming gear climb out of cars to have breakfast here. Mainly south Indian fare, the place also offers sandwiches, chaat and juices. Do sample the famous SPDP - Sev Potato Dahi Puri.
  • Sandwich stalls, Koregaon Park - Come evening and hawkers put up stalls on North Main for some of the most scrumptious, and weirdest, sandwiches I have ever had. Try the Bombay masala, mixed veg or club sandwich if you are not in the adventurous mood. Or else try the chocolate sandwich. Yup, a chocolate sandwich.
  • Marzorin, MG Road, Camp - Another landmark and a great place to hang out. Try any of the shakes, juices, cakes, rolls; they are all good. I love the length of balcony overlooking MG Road - great place to chill after shopping ;)

Honorable mentions (places I haven't been to but have heard about) Malaka Spice, Squisito, Cinnamon Spice, Ebony, High Spirits Cafe. Oh, there are more, I am sure, that have slipped through my sievish memory. Will keep adding to this list whenever I remember any. Wow, all this talk about food and slogging away documenting and trying to recollect and I have worked up an appetite. Next part, shopping and getaways. Till then, eat, drink and please don’t drive. :)



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