Such is the Food here
Food that gives you strength, nourishment and happiness,
A meal cooked painstakingly, with patience and love,
Just like a mother would feed her child.
Such was my experience at Savya Rasa, the South Indian Fine Dining restaurant. I can confidently say that this is among the Best Restaurants in Pune and in India. The meal was a story in itself. A meal, that tells tales of village homes and loving grandmothers. The food here brings back the fragrance of love from a mother’s kitchen. I’ve been writing about food, restaurants in and around Pune and Mumbai for over six years, but never have I come across a menu that was prepared so painstakingly as this one.
The moment you see the menu at Savya Rasa, you realize that this will not be another quick superficial meal where food loses focus between laughter and conversation. The focus here is their food, every aspect of it. Most dishes in your meal won’t allow your focus to shift from the food. I rarely experience that.
The recipes and ingredients were researched over three years to develop the repertoire that is on offer at Savya Rasa now. It is surreal to see the sheer effort of the person who has put this menu together. The delicacies are carefully picked up from different parts of South India. The food cultures on the menu include Nellore, Mangalore, Chettinad, Mysuru, Malabar and Nasrani among others.
Every food culture is well represented in each course, with starters, main course, breads and desserts from all regions mentioned separately. This is no ordinary menu. It is certainly not one where you can make a decision in one glance. This menu respects the authenticity of every cuisine and expects you to dedicate your time and patience to it.
I took close to 15 minutes just to read the menu. It was hard to make a decision because the selection was vast. My mom and sister put the menu down after a quick glance, reading it was too much work for them! It is a menu that can be overwhelming for some. I suggest you describe your preferences to the server and ask him to recommend popular favourites from the selection.
What to Order?
I will have to visit this restaurant five more times to answer that question. I’ll admit that it wasn’t easy. I forgot my preferences from the first page of the starters by the time I got to the third page of the starters. (Yes, the size of this menu is just out of this world!)
Here’s what I did. My mom likes paniyaram and potato so I ordered Chutney stuffed Paniyarams and potato varuval. My dad loves egg, so I ordered their chutney-stuffed, batter fried egg kebabs – Mutta Chutney Kebab. My sister loves seafood so I ordered a Reddy delicacy called Royala Iguru, which is, stir-fried prawns in red masala.
For Mains we went for Kori kundapura – a Mangalorean wedding feast delicacy, chicken in a red masala cooked with coconut milk and curry leaves. It tasted brilliant when we dipped our fresh, soft neer dosas and appams into the spicy yet creamy curry. The vegetarian main course was unique and delicious, a brown mushroom gravy that was meaty and flavourful, it went perfectly well with Bun Parota – crispy, flaky and layered.
I would like to go to their kitchen one day, just to see how they prepare so many delicacies in one meal. In a regular Indian restaurant kitchen, we use three or four base gravies and simply flash cook the dish so that it is out in 10 minutes. Savya Rasa offers nearly fifty or more dishes with very distinct bases and each flavor is from a different region so the spice mixes must be different too! It is hard to imagine what goes on in the kitchen or how they manage to churn out so many different dishes, especially on a crowded day like this!
The day we visited this place, we had to wait for a table for fifteen minutes even after booking beforehand. There were at least 10 or 15 people waiting for nearly forty minutes outside as we finished our lunch. Clearly, the food here is much loved and appreciated; else I don’t see why people would dedicate so much of their time to get a table here. Bottom line is, you will have to wait patiently to savour food like this. Food like this, takes time to prepare. But once you eat it, you’ll realize that it was all worth the wait.
Needless to say, every dish here was fabulous. It was nourishing with high quality ingredients and flavourful with turmeric, coconut, tamarind, curry leaf and everything that is good for health. I just wish they come out with a fixed tasting menu where we can get to sample more dishes in small quantities in a single meal.
Ambience & Service
The staff here is gracious, hard working and they serve with a big smile. Even when people are rude or throw a tantrum, even when they’ve been working, and literally running from table to table all afternoon, they serve with a big smile. That is a rare sight for me, in any restaurant, even in luxury hotels. That’s what I call good service.
The ambience is simplistic and very understated but the food is the star here, and nothing will steal the show from it. Honestly speaking, a year ago when the restaurant launched, I was invited here for a review; I regret not being able to make it then. Yet, I’m thankful on the other hand because I got to sample the real thing on a real day, and got to see how consistent and good the experience was even when I wasn’t a special guest. This place is worth it in every way. If you do visit Pune, this restaurant must be on your wish list.