Mayur, Jangli Maharaj RoadRestaurants — By Anna Pande on February 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM
Whenever one of my friends or relatives from the UK comes to visit me in Pune, there is one place I always take them for a meal: Mayur on Jangli Maharaj Road. The reasons for this are: (1) we have nothing similar to a “thali” in the UK, unless you count an ‘all you can eat’ buffet and so it is fun introducing them to something new; (2) the food is delicious; (3) the service is impeccable; and (4) it’s so cheap it’s guilt-inducing.
For those who don’t know, when you go for a “thali” (which means “plate”) you will sit down to a steel plate, covered in an array of smaller steel bowls. The waiters will then fill your plate with different foods usually including chapattis, a selection of hot vegetable dishes, a cold vegetable or salad, rice (either plain or with dal) and a sweet dish. The exact dishes that you will be offered vary from restaurant to restaurant. What’s more, the waiters will continually top up your dishes, until you tell them not to. In other words, it’s like an ‘all you can eat buffet’ but with table service! If you don’t want a particular dish, just shake your head or hold out your hand over the plate when the waiter approaches and he will know not to serve you.
When you arrive at your table in Mayur, you will find that it is already laid with assorted chutneys along with sliced onions and lemons. You will then be served a savoury drink called “jal-jeera” made with water, cumin and salt (there must be other ingredients but these are the ones I could taste distinctly). Some of my friends / relatives don’t enjoy this drink but I think it is quite tasty, in a tangy sort of way. It is also good for building up your appetite.
No sooner than you have taken your first few swigs of jal-jeera, will the waiters start filling up your plate. Mayur serves a vegetarian Gujarati / Maharashtrian thali and so the dishes it offers come from these regions. Since I have a sweet tooth, I especially enjoy the Maharashtrian dish ‘bhakari’ (a wholewheat bread which they serve with “jaggery” (sugarcane sugar) and lashings of ghee) and the Gujurati “kadhi” (a sweet and sour dish made with yoghurt and spices; the Gujurati version is especially sweet). The vegetable dishes are also very tasty and not as oily as in some other thali restaurants. As for the staple dish, the chapattis, they are hot and light – in short, delicious. At the end of the meal, the waiters will offer you rice (either plain rice or “khichdi” i.e. rice and dal). I thoroughly recommend mixing the kadhi and rice.
The waiters will also come round during the meal with a plate of sweets which you can choose between. I am well-placed to comment on these given that, the last time I was there (with some relatives from the UK), we ordered one of each! However, rather than having them alongside the other dishes we kept them for last. Just as well, as my favourite, the “basundi” (which is made from thickened milk, sugar and cardamom) is guaranteed to send you to sleep!
To summarise the quality of the food at Mayur – on their website they insist that, “the true joy of our existence is in eating good food”. This attitude shines through when you eat at the restaurant.
I wish some other restaurants in the city would take some tips from the staff at Mayur. They are friendly and courteous without being overbearing. Apart from anything else, whenever I go there I genuinely feel that they want me to have a good time (and are not trying to extract as much money or ‘comments’ from me as possible). They are also extremely efficient – I am amazed at the speed with which our plates are topped up.
The restaurant is cheerful with bright lighting, yellow walls and a black and white panorama shot of the Manhattan skyline on the back wall. Although the ambience is nothing exceptional, the restaurant is welcoming and spotlessly clean which, for me, is the most important criterion, especially when I am bringing guests. In other thali restaurants I have come across tablecloths and napkins which look rather grubby but you won’t find this in Mayur. So, if you find yourself feeling ill after eating there you will only have yourself to blame – for eating too much of their delicious food!
Value for money [rating:5/5]
When it comes to value for money, you cannot do any better than thali restaurants, in this case Mayur. Where else would you get the equivalent of a three-course meal, with unlimited helpings for Rs 120 per person?
Overall [rating: 5/5]
Of all the (many) restaurants I have visited in Pune, Mayur is near the top of the list for overall satisfaction. This restaurant proves what some other restaurants forget: that, as long as the restaurant is clean, the quality of the food and service is much more important than the ambience. Come to think of it, my uncle is visiting me this weekend. So you know where you can find me!
Address: J.M. Road, Deccan, Pune – 4 (beside the Nike shop)
Tel: (020) 6401 0909 / 2552 1551