A Walk Down Memory Lane; Eateries Which Remain the Soul and Culture of Pune

Edited by- Aruna Nidamarthy

It was 11 am in the morning. I was dressed in a blue shirt and gray shorts, eagerly waiting for my mother to pick me up from my first day at school. It was a tough day trying to hold back my tears, observing all the boys in the class crying on being separated from their mothers. Finally, after a long wait, I spotted my mother walking into class and sure was relieved that I was finally safe and that, this day at school had actually come to an end. She met with my teacher, gave me a hug and wiped my tear stained cheek with her handkerchief and off we went towards the school gate. The moment we sat in the car, she cheerfully said:-

“ You have been a very brave boy and I am going to treat you in Marz.”

'Marz' is the short form for Marz-o-rin, an amazing sandwich café in Pune.

My visits to Marz-o-rin date back to the year 2003. It was and has always been the place where I could treat myself or celebrate any impromptu event in life. Even in a dull moment, a visit to MG Road followed by snacks and a shake at Marz-o-rin was a mood elevator.

Earlier Marz-o-rin was a ground floor restaurant known as a sandwich place which served chicken, cheese, and chutney sandwiches. Their Chicken rolls have always been the softest ever, eaten with freshly made mayonnaise. The Rose Milkshake, served chilled in small glass bottles, have been their signature drink. Marz-o-rin has been standing strong and tall ever since it’s inception in 1965, in the center of Main Street, Camp, Pune. It has a pretty first floor with well- rounded Italian windows and not to miss the spray of water through fans which adds to the coolness of the place to beat the hot afternoon heat. You can actually spend an hour munching sandwiches while watching the hustle and bustle of shoppers from the first floor. 'Marz' has added several new items to its menu in the confectionary division. Their Lamington pastries, Macaroons , Plum Cakes and Easter Eggs are a few delights which are a must-try. The most amazing part of Marz-o-rin is its fresh juices. Their fresh Mango Juice and watermelon juice in the season is the best refreshment to the hot afternoons in Pune. The Rose Milkshake beats the one sold in Kaventers and of course, the Cold Coffee can give Depauls a run for their money.

We have no branches!

Marz-o-rin and a few eateries in Pune are stand-alone brands with no other branches in India or internationally. Their sales volumes can be attributed to the freshness factor and a highly nutritive menu. Pune sits close to the Tropic line, which results in very hot afternoons. You would notice a lot of students hanging around these places in the evening to savour their menu while the weather cools down and becomes pleasant.

With the onset of the festivities of Diwali, I would urge my fellow ‘Non-Puneites’ to come out of their hostels and discover the soul and culture of Pune. Pune has 2 parts; Camp and Deccan. I guess it would be logical to start with Camp as this is closer to our college.

Kayani Bakery is an age-old bakery established in 1955. They are famous for baking the very popular and delicious Shrewsbury Biscuits. If you were to reach at 4.30 pm, you could taste the freshly baked Mawa Cakes and the Chocolate Walnut Cakes. A pack of Shrewsbury Biscuits is a must buy. By 5 pm on a regular day, most of these bakes are sold out due to their popularity in the city.

Their customers are mainly ‘Mumbaikars’ who visit Pune for the weekend, for the races, to party and to 'chill’, and anyone going back, must leave, most importantly, bearing gifts in hand from Kayani Bakery. Kayani Bakery is closed on Sundays.

ABC Farms is famously known for Cheese of various types; from Cheese Dips to BOCCONCINI! They have outlets in MG Road, Koregaon Park and NIBM. While you are at MG Road shopping, a visit to their store to treat yourself to ‘LEMSI’- Lemon Lassi ( a drink made with whipped curd, water and a dash of lemon) is a refreshing break.

George Restaurant is a landmark in the city. It has been around for the past 79 years and there have been no changes in the menu since its inception. Except for a few additions, they have retained whatever it used to have in the 1930s. George has a legacy of its own and the biryani served here is made from the same recipe used in the 1940s. The caramel pudding, with its layers of cream, jelly and caramel, as well as the famous steamed caramel custard, is a recommended dessert after eating a spicy Biryani Meal.

Vaishali Restaurant

To reach Vaishali, we have to travel from Camp to the Deccan side of Pune. Any trip to SIU should include a visit to Vaishali. Vaishali is one of the most popular restaurants among the student community of Pune.

It is a fabulous breakfast place for Medhu Vadas, Idlis and a vast variety of Dosas, which are all served hot. The delicious Sev Batata Dahi Puri, popularly called SBDP, is served in the evenings and can definitely give the famous Delhi Papadi Chaat an outright competition. This restaurant has the energy from different generations. The young student crowd is often seen enjoying a meal with their friends and is a regular hangout for most. One will also notice a lot of old students’ reunions taking place at various tables, pictures being taken and memories being reminisced. This restaurant is home to college students from Symbiosis, Fergusson, Wadia, Gokhale, BMCC and many more. The buzz of the Deccan side of Pune is seen at Vaishali or “Vaish” in short.

If you walk down the busy Fergusson college road, you can have a Thali at Roopali, another restaurant which has been a part of Pune for years. The deluxe Thali with an extra dessert on weekends is a treat and a break from the regular mess food. This is also a pure vegetarian restaurant like Vaishali.

Maratha Samrat in Baner is a popular restaurant which serves a fabulous spread of Maharashtrian cuisine in a Thali. A Thali has small portions of different dishes with the aim to make the meal nutritive and enhance a variety of food on a plate. Amrakhand ( fresh mango mixed in whipped hung curd with jaggery or sugar) is one delightful dessert to be tried and is a must order as a part of the Thali.

This gastronomical write-up has excited me to take a trip to my favourite places these holidays. Join me anytime in these 3 years to soak in the culture of Pune. I am sure I would like to see them through your lens and feel the energy of Pune once again.

#food #pune #karankaushish