It’s a foodie lovers paradise with cuisine to satisfy every taste bud.
It was my third trip to Pondicherry and I was back at the French Quarters for a week with my boyfriend Soum. It was going to be a leisurely food and culture themed vacation. It was Soum’s first time in the city and I had an entire itinerary planned, with food being the most important. On my past two vacations with parents and girlfriends, I had experimented with a lot of restaurants, both cheap and expensive.
We reached Pondicherry at 7:00 am and took a walk on the promenade after dropping off our luggage at a lovely guest house on Dumas street in White Town. Our first stop was breakfast at Baker Street and yes, if you’ve been to Pondicherry, I won’t go on and on about the chocolate croissants, ham quiche and baguette sandwiches. It’s one of the most popular cafes there even though I find it slightly overpriced. But the food is worth it and the variety great.
Breakfast with a view. Image source: wordpress.com
However, the most simple yet delicious breakfast we had was at L’Escale. The bread is soft and is accompanied with mouthwatering homemade jams, made from various fruits including banana, pineapple, orange and figs. You can choose how you want your eggs, and top it off with fresh watermelon and tea or coffee. We also had a homemade complimentary marble cake that’s served before breakfast, but from what I understand the type of cake differs every other week. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can’t ask for better. And if you wake up post 10:00 am, like us, you’ll usually end up having brunch, or head straight to lunch.
Have to eat French food in Pondicherry. Image source: zomato.com
Now consider my lunch and dinner recommendations to be interchangeable. We went through four different restaurants before we found the ideal three course French meal – food, accompanied by the house red or white wine and a sea facing view right on the promenade. We chose Blueline, part of The Promenade hotel which as the name suggests is right on the sea. The three course French meal began with a bouillabaisse served with rouille sauce, a stew consisting of leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and fish. Served with a spicy flavoured mayonnaise on grilled slices of bread. This was followed by the famous coq au vin, chicken braised with shallots, mushrooms and red wine. For dessert, we had tarte tatin - upside down pastry apples caramelized in butter and sugar. Soum’s dishes differed from mine. He began his with a quiche lorraine, an open crusted pie with bacon, egg and cheese, originally a German dish. His second dish was sole meuniere, which translates to ‘in the style of the miller’s wife’, pan fried sole fish with brown butter, parsley, lemon and capers. Everything was delicious and close to perfection except for the service, which wasn’t exceptional. Other than that, this is an ideal lunch or dinner date location, especially if you reserve a table in the lawns by the ocean.
Foodcoma! Image source: weekendthrill.com
We also went to the highly recommended Cafe Des Arts, where the food was terribly overrated. Another place that came recommended were the sandwiches at Cafe Ole, which were average, but the chocolate almond brownies were heavenly. Remember, we were in White Town within the French Quarters, so you can’t blame us for trying our best to scout out the perfect French meal.
Could be the French countryside. Image source: wordpress.com
Something I loved about eating at restaurants in the French Quarters was being seated inside massive colonial bungalows, some of which had colour palettes that would fit right into a Wes Anderson film. Coromandel Cafe is one such place and also happens to be only a few weeks old. The drinks were splendid and the food and dessert was even better. We started off with some tasty fusion cocktails along with a fried squid and chicken satay peanut starter that came recommended by one of the managers. This was followed by a prawn main course and marble chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Coromandel Cafe was a close second to Blueline. Some other fantastic fine dining options are Le Dupleix, where you must try the courtyard classic cocktail and the steak. At Le Chateau, the prawns and pomegranate mojito were spectacular.
Wining and dining. Image source: ndtvfood.com
Bored of wining and dining at fancy restaurants or heritage hotels, we eventually took to the streets looking for the best food options. While riding on a scooter in and around the French Quarters, we didn’t see anything interesting for a while. But eventually came across a mutton keema samosa and aatu kal (also known as mutton leg soup) stand, right opposite the Pondicherry railway station. Spiced minced lamb and shredded onions inside a surprisingly non-greasy, but crispy samosa had us ordering four more. The soup was delicious too. Turns out the mutton samosa and soup stand had been around for over 30 years. “My father Hadar Hasan started it and would sell by the beach. He was a cook in Thailand, Singapore and Brunei before coming back to Pondicherry and setting this up. Now even the French living here come to pack samosas before they catch a flight to Paris,” said Nizammuddin who runs the stall with his older brother Muhammad Yasin. Make sure you reach South Boulevard road when the stall sets up by around 6:00 pm, and open till about 10:00.
Let’s go back! Image source: travelsamosa.com
I am now back in Bangalore, dreaming about mutton samosas, pomegranate mojito’s, quiche lorraine and coq au vin, while I dig into a bowl of idli sambhar for breakfast…sigh!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101india.com.
By Sasha Klaatu
Cover photo credit: medium.com