World Dhaba was touted as Pune’s first international food festival. It was held at the Deccan College Grounds near Vishrantwadi and also boasted of some live concerts or shows.
Needless to say, I was expecting to see a lot of global cuisine based on what was advertised and all the buzz on social media. But as it turned out, 80% of the stalls offered Indian or Desi food. Nothing wrong against scrumptious Indian food – it just did not fit into the ‘international’ theme.
The event was held Fri-Sun 6-8 Feb 2015. Sunday afternoon was maybe not the best time to go, but I had assumed that there would be a lot of people heading there for Sunday brunch or lunch.
There was a door charge of 50 bucks which I think was unwarranted. The sun was shining down mercilessly and we started feeling the heat pretty soon. We were approached by a young lady who asked if we wanted to be entered in a lucky draw. We politely said yes, but then it turned out that she needed detailed demographic information for the lucky draw. No, a name and number or email address was not sufficient!! She wanted to know AGE, occupation, place of work, marital status etc. And, she was very eager to randomly tick any boxes based on what she thought was the right answer!!
I really wonder why restaurant owners ask these kinds of personal questions to people? What are they doing with this data? Or are they just buying some standard issue forms without giving a thought to the questions they are asking?
The premise here of course seems to be that people don’t care what personal information they give out to strangers. I just don’t fall under those people.
The festival was supposed to start at Noon. Considering that people wouldn’t be punctual, we reached there well after 2 PM. But over half the stalls were still not functional. I agree that the organizers can just provide the infrastructure. Ultimately, it is the stall owner’s responsibility to show up and sell their food!
I had heard a lot about Picantos, the Mexican place. Now I am very fond of Mexican food, and also particular about it. Just a bunch of corn chips and ketchup does not pass for Mexican food in my book!
I took the plunge and ordered Loaded Nachos and Spicy Paneer Tacos. Considering the portion size, the Tex was already out of the Tex-Mex! The tacos were around 3 inches long. The nachos had maybe 8-10 chips. The flavors were just not right – the taco fillings were strong on red chili pepper and low on any other flavors. Cheese was some white sauce, supposedly a mixture of sour cream and cheese (?).
They were putting mayo on the tacos. I really don’t understand this growing fascination for mayo in India (a post coming up on that).
If you have ever eaten at Taco Bell, On The Border, Chilis, Chipotle or local Mexican restaurants ( Mexico, Casa Grande, Mi Hacienda for you Richmonders), Picantos is not for you. If you have never tried Mexican food, well, ……..
At times such as these, I imagine myself giving a Bobby Flay style Throwdown challenge, showing ‘em how it’s done south of the border.
‘Nuff said about how disappointing the Mexican food was!
We ordered some basket chaat at the Dilli Chaat counter. One stall seemed to have yummy puffed bhaturas, but considering our burning skin and sweat streaming down, no way were we going to eat deep fried stuff!
Bubster’s was selling some pizzas and Cocoberry had some pasta, I think. And Café Arabica was selling hummus, shawarma etc. There was no dedicated Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, American, Italian etc. counter. The bulk of the food was wraps, tikkas, biryanis, parathas and chaat.
I got a cup of strawberries with ice cream for about 100 bucks from the Naivedyam counter which was a life saver! There was fresh whipped cream and two kinds of ice cream.
The next thing we tried was Cocoberry’s frozen yogurt. It has been simply ages since I indulged in some good old fro-yo! And it was a reunion I totally savored.
Cocoberry was offering two flavors – blueberry and green apple – and I just loved it! I hope they open a joint near where I live.
There was a stage with a humungous sound system. Someone started playing music and what do ya know – Hotel California and Brick in the Wall were heard.
There is something peculiar or special about the music played in Pune restaurants or cafes. You can almost predict what will be played – Eagles, Wham, Celine Dion, Modern Talking, Bryan Adams – and that’s about it. They seem to have never heard of 50 Cent. J Lo, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Katie Perry never seem to have happened. Nor Cold Play or Elvis or Britney or Taylor Swift or Madonna! What’s that about, can anyone tell me??
I had a nice chat with Sayali Thite of Stew Art. There was a big stall with 4-5 restaurants under the umbrella of Pune Eat Outs. In case you didn’t know, Pune Eat Outs is a thriving Facebook community with thousands of foodie and food loving members. It is the place you need to go to get the skinny on Pune’s food scene.
Overall, the venue was nice and spacious. The grounds were carpeted but a canopy was sorely needed.
Some improvements I would like to see next year –
- More seating in the form of tables and chairs
- A cover or canopy to ward off the sun
- More ‘international’ food stalls
- No cover charge 🙂
I try to be kind in all my reviews and think many times before making any adverse comments. But the very nature of an honest review is such that it must include both positive and not so positive aspects.
Kudos to the organizers for a great first year of the World Dhaba. Here’s looking forward to a bigger and better festival next year!
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