Restaurant Review – Vaishali (written in 1994)
The first ever internet homepage for Pune was setup in 1994. I had written a brief review of my favorite restaurant, Hotel Vaishali on FC Road back then. I am reproducing that review here on my blog.
It’s interesting to note how the price of one of the most popular dishes at Vaishali – ‘Idli-Wada Sambar’, has changed over the period. In the 93-94 time frame, it was around Rs. 5. Today, it is nearer to Rs. 20. Over the past 13 years I was living in the US. During each of my yearly India trips, a visit to Vaishali was a must! I used to routinely compare the price of this Idli-Wada Sambar dish against by Rs. 5 benchmark. In a way, it was my extreme rough inflation indicator -:)
I am sure that any person who has ever visited Pune must have atleast heard of Vaishali, if not visited it. Whenever you pass by the FC Road, an enchanting aroma of Sambar will literally draw you towards this place!
What started of as Madras Cafe back in the 1950s has today become one of the most popular restaurants in Pune. Infact Vaishali got its present name in the late 1960s. More than two generations of college students have made this place their ‘adda’ or meeting place. Infact during the day time, Vaishali resembles a college canteen.
Vaishali predominantly serves South Indian snacks with some exceptions such as the extremely popular SPDP (shev potato dahi puri) and the Veg. burger. One could start of with an order of idli-vada sambar (my favourite) and wait for the Masala dosa or Tomato Uttappa.(remember to order this along with the first order to reduce idle time!). The third dish could either be a SPDP or any of the remaining snack dishes in the menu! Yes, in Vaishali, you should make it a point to try atleast 3 dishes! No snack in Vaishali is complete without a hot cup of filter coffee though you may also like to try cold coffee or a lassi. Apart from this you also have a choice of standard beverages and ice-creams.
So, whenever you are planning to visit Pune, do make it a point to visit Vaishali. However, be prepared to wait for atleast 15-20 minutes before finding a place to sit (especially in the evenings). I am sure that your patience shall be rewarded!
Update on February 5, 2011
Recently, came across a very good interview with Jagannath Shetty, owner of Vaishali in Punekar. Here is the link: