Patronised by laidback yet discerning gourmands, Pune’s fine-dining landscape is one of the most exciting in the country (these Mumbai venues top our list too). We scour the scene for five A-list eateries in Pune that pair the very best spirits with the finest cuisine, to get your foodie exploration of the city started.
A chic, sunlit space with floor-to-ceiling windows and an elegant all-white ambience, The JW Marriott Pune’s signature Italian restaurant is a clear winner for a leisurely meal of robust classics. Chef de Cuisine Christian Huber’s heritage from Italy’s Alto Adige region translates to an earthy yet versatile philosophy on one of the world’s most beloved cuisines. Diners show up regularly to feast on his exemplary ravioli and delectable risotto with mushrooms and truffle oil. The enthusiastic team at Alto Vino is always cooking up eclectic food festivals — we tripped on the recent mushroom fiesta where guests devoured fresh black summer truffle and Eryngii mushroom in dishes like Gnocchi Romani and Chilean Sea Bass — to keep things exciting, along with their smash hit Sunday brunches.
If you’re an Alto Vino rookie, head straight for the Asparago Verde (Green Asparagus) with provolone cheese and pine seeds, the Bresaola di Agnello (lamb) served with grilled artichokes or the Linguine al Vino Rosso (with a delicious whiskey reduction), from the appetizers menu. For mains, the Risotto ai Funghi di Bosco e Tartufo (wild mushroom risotto with truffle essence) is an excellent choice, as is the Pollo al Forno (oven-roasted chicken breast) served with a parmesan crust and forest mushrooms. Round off the divine experience with a chocolate tart, made with 65 per cent Venezuelan Maracaibo and served with hazelnut praline ice cream!
The name means ‘one day’ in Dutch, but that’s certainly no indication of how often you’ll end up visiting this rooftop bar and grill! Perched atop The Gateway Hotel (a Taj property), Vandaag enjoys a splendid view of Pune’s IT district — Hinjawadi — from a height of 50 feet. The innovative concept collates food and cocktail recipes from Dutch colonies across the world, including exceptional Indian dishes, served in a contemporary, cool ambience. Software engineers flock here after hours to toast their digital victories over a Spicy Granaatappel (a combination of chilli infused whiskey, pomegranate and peppercorns) and a mezze board at the 17-foot bar.
Vandaag has gained a reputation for its post-work fusion bites like the Thetcha Paneer Tikka; infusing classics with explosive local flavours. Equally popular is another power-packed Maharashtrian staple — Masala Bhaat with Bharli Wangi (masala pulao with stuffed eggplant) — served with khamang kakdi (spiced cucumber). Exotic foreigners like the Chelo Kebab (chickpea kibbeh served over Iranian pilaf with sumac and zatar sprinkled naans) have also endeared themselves to diners. Finally, don’t forget to order the luscious Paan-i-Poori — a standout dessert that combines beloved Indian flavours like creamy paan and gulkand with a chocolate-coated poori plumped up at the centre.
The elegant Crowne Plaza Hotel, on Pune’s plush Bund Garden Road, holds one of the city’s best kept gourmet secrets. The stylish Evviva Sky Lounge offers a stunning view of the area’s vibrant landscape, with chic interiors bearing pops of colour and a swish circular bar — making it an ideal destination for a romantic date or a business dinner that will leave clients thoroughly impressed.
The talented chefs at Evviva have perfected the art of satiating a quintessentially Indian palate, while whipping up classic Continental dishes on the side. The Achari Paneer Tikka is a crowd pleaser, as is the succulently chargrilled Murgh Bhatti Kebab. To change it up, order the Chicken Caesar Salad — delicately spiced with yellow chilli and sprinkled liberally with crunchy croutons. Moving on to mains, choose between the excellent Pasta Pomodoro or Vegetable Thai Curry, or stay in the desi lane with a robust Bhuna Murgh. Finish your meal with a house favourite, the Evviva brownie with vanilla ice cream, that has regulars lining up to book their next table.
OXFORD GOLF RESORT
There’s nothing to beat a well-curated gourmet meal after several hours of teeing off on one of India’s finest golf courses. The Oxford Golf Resort enjoys a verdant off-centre location in the hills of Lavale, that’s perfect to soak in Pune’s famed balmy weather. Guests are known to make a staycation of it; booking one of the modish luxury chalets or tents and spending the weekend swimming and playing a few rounds of tennis, before hitting the spacious al fresco restaurant for some of the most delectable meals in the city.
In a posh country club atmosphere, surrounded by the rolling greens, you can feast on a range of appetizers like the sophisticated Asparagus Spears and Pickled Cucumber with Mint Sour Cream or the hearty Lamb Meatball with Orange Cheddar Fondue. The Italian theme reaches a crescendo in the mains, with Blue Cheese Arancini served with green pea pesto. Get a Mediterranean vibe with the Tzatziki Filled Lamb Cigar, before culminating the gourmet meal with a stunner: Homemade Apple Confiture on Mascarpone Ragi Crackers.
This rooftop poolside lounge and restobar is a favourite spot to unwind for locals as well as corporate guests at the Sayaji Hotel in Wakad, on the Mumbai-Bangalore Bypass Highway. With a breezy Mediterranean décor theme in white and blue, you can choose to sit by the pool or book a private cabana fringed by wispy white curtains for a larger group.
Kebab connoisseurs across the city book tables for a refined barbecue experience. From the complex Paneer Lahori Tikka to the piquant Nargisi Aloo and the wonderful fusion Malai Broccoli, there’s a kebab on offer here for all palates — from vigorous to delicate. Follow up on the starters with the Paneer Jahangir or Bhuna Vegetable Masala, and a sublime, silky Dal Makhani that will keep you coming back for more; all served with fresh naans and parathas from the tandoor. The luscious Tiramisu makes for a fitting climax to a splendid meal.
Image Credits: dineout.co.in; gateway.tajhotels.com; sommelierindia.com; maggiebeer.com.au; booking.com