I constantly shuttle between Goa and Mumbai and of course, Pune invariably falls along the route on Mumbai-Goa road trips. Apart from the McDonalds on the highway, I’ve actually never ever explored the city of Pune, and I have been meaning to change that. It is a great weekend getaway from Mumbai, if you’re looking for a vibrant change of pace.
I recently made a trip to Pune for a day, to visit Club 29, an executive hotel in Wakad. My mission was to try out all three restaurants at the property – a mighty task for someone like me, who eats out one night and then feels over-stuffed/lethargic for the next two days! Anyway, it is food after all, and where there is great food, I shall travel!
I won’t go into too much detail of my room as this isn’t a hotel review. But since I haven’t stayed at any properties in Pune, I’d like to show you my room at Club 29 anyway. Let’s just say that this was your typical business-traveller / executive style room with the usual standard offerings – toiletries and bottled water, to be exact. Although not too spacious, the room (and bathroom) were extremely clean and comfortable – a great option for when you need to pop into Pune for official purposes.
There are three restaurants inside Club 29. Twenty Nine, their all-day restaurant, Skittles – the sports bar and lounge, and Falak – the roof-top restaurant that is open during the evenings.
TWENTY-NINE – My first meal at Club 29 was at Twenty Nine, a mid-range multi-cuisine restaurant. And what a meal it was – with one knock-out dish after another!
I started a soup, a childhood favourite – Sweet Corn Chicken! And it hit the spot! I’ll never say ‘no’ to sweet corn chicken soup, and while some are better than others, this one was amazing – flavourful, creamy and comforting! If you like soups (and especially this kind), do order it as they do it wonderfully well!
Next up, you know I love the honey-chilli pairing so it was a no-brainer that I devoured the honey-chilli lotus stem– it was addictive! Sticky, crunchy, hot and sweet, all at once, it makes for a great starter to get your appetite roaring for lunch. Before lunch, though, I tried yet another starter – the 3-style chicken kebab – a platter with chicken kebabs cooked 3 ways – Tikka (red), Hariyali (green) and Malai (creamy-yogurt based and white). I preferred the Malai Kebab out of the three, although they were all delicious! Order this if you have at least 3 people on the table.
I was served 3 main courses to try and my favourite, hands-down, was the fish and chips! The crispiest-crunchiest batter ever, and brittle enough to almost explode at the slightest touch, with steaming fish inside. I’ve had fish and chips in many, many places but this one stands out among the best. I also tried Surf-and-Turf, which comprised of grilled prawns and chicken served with mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and gravy. This was good, but not as fabulous as the earlier dish, or the next one.
I was full to the brim by the time Chicken Kaali Miri came to the table, and I’d blindly recommend this to you too. Tender boneless chicken pieces simmering in a rich, aromatic yogurt-peppercorn gravy served with butter garlic naan sent me floating off into another world. I enjoyed every bite and would definitely order this again, even though at that moment, I felt like I could burst at any second.
For dessert, I sample the Tiramisu, and while it looked pretty, it was lacking in several aspects. The basic elements of the Tiramisu – coffee soaked ladyfinger biscuits, Baileys and, well, coffee, in general, were missing. It was more of cream and cake than anything else.The management was very open to feedback and informed me right there and then that they would make the improvements. Judging by the quality of food thus far, I could tell that they were striving for perfection.
After a long slumber (there wasn’t much I could do after a meal as heavy as the one at Twenty Nine), I headed upstairs to Skittles, the sports bar at Club 29. The energy was palpable from the minute I walked in. Great music to set the tone, dim lights and a couple of entertainment options ranging from video games to snooker. I played two sets of bowling, in between nibbling on some bar snacks – chicken wings and onion rings, to be precise.
The service here was noteworthy – pleasant dispositions and smiling faces ensured my soft-drink glass was full at all times. Skittles also has a separate restaurant besides the games arena, in case you’d just like to come, sit and unwind with a drink + sports on the TV, without being distracted by excited folks battling it out in the sportier section.
Third restaurant in one day, and you know that isn’t humanly possible for anyone with a normal appetite, especially after a massive lunch and snacks at 8 pm! I visited Falak, the rooftop restaurant at Club 29 at 10 pm since, being a rooftop restaurant, it is closed during the daytime. I had considered spending some quiet time up there, and simply unwind with a mocktail.
This rooftop restaurant in Pune is a nice place to enjoy the city’s pleasant weather accompanied by a hearty meal. While the menu is more or less identical to Twenty-Nine, on the ground floor, what sets it apart is the ambience and décor – a lot of greenery, moody lighting and calmer vibes.
I ended my night at Club 29 by trying two more desserts – the Angoori Rasmalai and New York Cheesecake. The desserts again weren’t really up to the mark. The Cheesecake was dense, artificial in taste, didn’t have nearly enough cheese and the biscuit base that makes a cheesecake an epic dessert, was a thin layer of soggy cake. The Rasmalai was way better!
I wrapped up my whirlwind trip the next morning. And the next time I pass by Pune, I’m surely stopping by for that fish-and-chips again! Being at the start of the city, it does make a great stop on a road trip. You don’t have to actually enter Pune, and is just a minor detour from the highway, so you can dine and dash!
Got any other places you think I should visit in this city? Comment below and let me know.
P.S. My trip to Club 29 was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own.