Many Punekars rue the fact that Pune has grown in all directions , the traffic has crippled , weekends no more give you the options of going to outskirts like NDA Road , Mulshi or Sinhagad and be at peace . Although rainy season is looking good, the weather situation, the best USP of Pune has turned from bad to worse in last few years. The only two things that still stand out are cultural events and food.
For those who belong to the 90s generation, would recall that the fountain at the then Pune University was a picnic spot for many with Chinese stalls on NCL -Pashan road; about two to three km ahead, Hotel Mahableshwar was literally the entry and exit gate of Pune. But few would imagine that this would change forever. MG Road and Koregaon Park towards the east and Chandni Chowk towards the west were the two food destinations for weekends. Garden Court, Ambrosia, Banjara Hills and then Oasis were favorite amongst people who wanted to spend the weekend evenings with their family at far off places. While those who wanted to go pubbing had Thousand Oaks, TDS, Polaris at Blue Diamond Hotel and ABC Farms.
The new identity of Pune as an IT hub especially because of Hinjewadi has given rise to some of the fastest growing suburbs including Baner, Wakad and Pimple Saudagar. Pune was always a good food destination, but the change in recent years is even better. Baner, once considered only a small sibling of Aundh is now leading the way to become the hottest food destination of Pune. Restaurants in this area serve fine dining quality dishes and provide a modern and a confluence of western and Indian inspired ambience. From Hotel Green Park , Funky Kona , Bhairavee, Magnolia, Hotel Mahableshwar , Desi Aroma, Salt , Oriental Story , Malaka Spice , Raasta Cafe , Desi Chula , Shiv Sagar , Sindhu Wade wale , K factory , Great Punjab right up to Post 91 , the list is endless. And not to mention the eateries which are there in every nook and corner including Dominos, KFC, Café Coffee Day, McDonalds, Chitale, Ganesh Bhel are present on Baner Road too.
But what has made the difference is the Balewadi High Street which has taken the experience to the next level with Playboy Beer Garden, Urban Foundry, Incognito, Arthurs Theme, Terttulia , Apache amongst others.
Like Koregaon Park , themed Restaurants to Cafes and Pubs are popping up at every corner of Baner.
PB Lifestyle has recently launched its first Beer Garden in the World at Balewadi High Street, with famous European and Mediterranean themed Koregaon Park eateries Arther’s Theme and Tertulia opening up at Balewadi High Street as well. The fact that this area offers the perfect fusion of dining, music and entertainment coupled with easy decors, presence of light menu along with drinks has made it popular amongst youngsters so much so that it is full even on some of the weekdays. There are also countless eateries in arterial roads of Baner , Pashan and Sus areas. To put in perspective there are more eateries than trees in Baner.
Baner may not have the same charm as Koregaon Park, but what makes it stand out is the fact that there is something for every pocket and palette. There are more famous hotels and restaurants which are opening up here in the near future. With very little to offer in terms of Maharashtrian and South Indian Cusine , Baner does not in way represent the authentic food legacy of Pune, but reflects the modern food with cosmopolitan spirit. Like they have food tours in some countries, there is a need for separate printed culinary food guide for Baner which can be the first food tour destination of Pune.