Cafe Culture – Bavdhan Special
India is tea drinking nation, as far as I know. Although, there are pockets where coffee is largely appreciated, it remains tilted towards tea.
Amrutulya and Cutting Chai
Tea drinking in Pune comes through a concept of an amrutulya or a tea place. This is where only tea and certain bakery food like cream roll & cookies are served.
The tea is sold in small cups or ultra-small glasses. In case you do not want a full glass of the ultra- small glass then you can call for a cutting chai. Cutting chai is just 2 sips of tea at most of the places.
Every amrutulya has a single chef or a tea connoisseur. He is the one who knows what makes his tea special and why people keep coming back for more. Every amrutulya would have a unique taste for its tea. Some with lots of sugar, some a little lesser, some with cardamom and some maybe full masala chai.
They will not give you multiple flavours to take care of all taste buds, because they do not have the space to cater to variety and they were never meant to serve variety.
These tea places either do not have any seating areas or the benches they use would be so uncomfortable that you would not be able to sit for long. And if you managed to go through the torture and extended your seating time in that place; the owner was quick to kick you out with “Do not sit here doing nothing”
Over and above the best part about these places is that the tea is cheap. Even today I would not have to pay more than Rs. 10 for a cup of chai.
The growing Cafe Culture
This scenario has changed over the last 8-10 years where coffee drinking in the urban areas has increased or maybe forced to increase by the advent of the café culture.
It started with the Baristas and Café Coffee Days and now has grown to international chains like Starbucks etc coming into the fray. These cafes serve multiple flavours of coffee in various sizes of cups. They provide ultra-comfortable seating environment. Above all that, I have never been pushed out from a CCD or a Barista for sitting there long.
They are super costly places literally burning your pockets for a cup of coffee and a machine-made sandwich. These turn out to be peaceful meeting places though.
The Coffee machines here, brew the coffee fresh and some of them have coffee bean crushers attached for the flavour of the freshly ground coffee.
The chef cafes
A recent phenomenon in this coffee culture, is going back to single owned small cafes with limited seating capacity. The change here is that these cafes are run by single owners who are the chefs too. The products served are the same as the bigger café but in a much more personalised way. The sandwiches / pizzas or pastas have a taste. They are freshly made in front of you.
Now, this is what I term as going back to the Amrutulyas. Freshly brewed limited variety of coffee. Most of these cafes also serve the traditional South Indian Filter kapi.
There are plenty of such cafés in Pune now, I am tying to write a few I like in Bavdhan.
Fat Labrador Café
This is a warm and comforting pet friendly place in Bavdhan. Located Diagonally opposite the gate of DSK Raanwaara, it is one of the cafes I would recommend for sure.
Smita and Aniket (the owners) are friends with you almost immediately and recommend some of their best stuff to you.
We had the Cajun Spiced Grilled chicken sandwich. This is the sandwich they recommend, and we were not let down. The chicken is perfectly marinated and grilled. Cut into bite sized pieces and stuffed into a sandwich with lettuce and mayo. There were no more veggies stuffed into the sandwich, so one could taste only the spiced chicken, some crispy lettuce and mayo. Served with chips and ketchup, this is a must have.
They served a Café Gourmand that day, which was a nice cappuccino with a couple of deserts. As a treat we also got to taste the freshly baked lemon tarts. If there were a dozen in front of me I would have finished the whole set myself.
Would surely be going back there to try their omelettes and the chicken bowl.
The WadaPav Café
Rohit Wadewaale, the popular wada pav in Pune has started this concept of café with Wada pav. This place is located on the main Bavdhan road and cannot be missed as that building is filled a lot of cafes. I loved the wada pav served by rohitwadewaale and was looking forward to that. They always had a reputation of a clean and hygienic place with a good taste for the wada pav.
The place is clean and hygienic, in fact the décor and the ambience is very good indeed.
We went there for the wada pav and some chai because I could not imagine a wada pav with coffee, maybe my bad as I am not good at fusion food.
They serve the wada in a multi grain pav with the regular red chutney and the fried green chillies. Now, possibly, what has gone wrong with the wada pav is that it is frozen and reheated at the franchisee. This renders the wada tasteless according to me and the wada is also hard after reheating. The wada should ideally be piping hot in a pav and not sit there like a dud. This is my point of view and have heard a lot people go ga-ga over the wada pav there.
Having said that, the highlight here is the misal and kothimbir wadi. The kothimbir wadi although in the same frame of being hard rather than crispy, but has much better taste and is something I would like to have there again. The masala chai is something they are really good at.
I could not venture to try their Lasanyamisal as I mentioned, I am not a very big fan of fusion food and specially when it comes to cheese on my misal.
Overall a good place to have chai and kothimbir wadi and misal.
Minus 18 degrees
This place is not in Bavdhan but close by in Baner, next to Anna Idli. The décor is white, my favourite color, makes the entire place so peaceful.I fell in love with décor and could sit there for hours reading a book and snacking. Specifically, gives a spacious Greek look to the café.
They have a large menu and serve all breakfast, full meals and desserts. The menu is large and to try it all out would be a great task.
We had the Potato Rosti Panini along with French fries served with Chilli Garlic Mayo. The panini was well grilled and quite filling.
We also tried their waffles with bananas and chocolate sauce. This turned out to be their star.
It’s a lovely place to sit, have discussions and read a book.
They have a large menu so would be going back there to try their pastas and risottos someday again.
Kurtossh are basically chimney cakes in Hungarian. The dough is rolled on to a cone and baked over charcoal. This gives it a crisp and smokey flavoured outside and can be stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings.
Hungarians would generally fill it with sweet stuff, Kurtossh in Bavdhan has introduced these chimney cakes with Indian fillings too.
We tried their Mexican Chicken, Chicken Makhani, Italian Veg and Tangy Potato filled chimney cakes. Chicken Makhani and Italian veg really stood out of the lot. They were going well with the smokey bread around them. Mexican chicken was too spicy for comfort.
In the sweet we tried the hazelnut strawberry and the jaggery banana. The hazelnut strawberry was a hit between the four of us but the jaggery banana was just about ok. It was more banana and less jaggery.
They serve some good snacks too.
I think it’s a good place, when you are bored of the routine and want to try something different. Also, it is best to go in for the sweet chimney cakes.
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