Until quite recently, Pune’s burgeoning culinary scene was quite inconsiderate – if I may say so – of the needs of a sizeable population of the city's ‘night owls’, who promptly get the munchies at the stroke of midnight. The food-Cinderellas would all shut shop as soon as the clock struck 12, leaving us sufferers of the midnight binge-eating syndrome quite in the lurch. Of course, a few faithful old restaurants (‘few’ being the operative word) have been catering to night-time foragers well into the wee hours for the last several years. But that one particular brand of humans – who prefers to order in and soothe away those untimely hunger pangs in the comfort of their pyjamas – would have to make do with a bowl of instant noodles seasoned with disappointment, or whip up an omelette tossed in an unhappy sauce.
Well, not anymore.
Over the past couple of years, a number of late-night kitchens have sprouted around the city. Specifically targeted at nocturnal people who do not have the time, patience or inclination for cooking, these kitchens are all open until 3 to 4 am and provide a fairly prompt delivery service. What is even better: the trend is not limited to one particular area – music to the ears of those who have had to go through the hassle of driving all the way to Station road to pick up some grub.
For those in the west side of town in the mood for late-night snacking, Aate Huye in Gokhale Nagar delivers a variety of sandwiches, burgers, rolls, kababs and Chinese fare. Stars on the menu include the wholesome chicken dal khichdi (a simple yet clever non-vegetarian spin on the comfort food) and penne in oriental sauce, which creates a strange Italian-Asian fusion. For those craving Continental yummies, Craveu in Shivaji Nagar delivers excellent pastas and cheesy, meaty lasagnas, besides red and green Thai curries.
Based out of Magarpatta, the aptly-named Juugaad has possibly the most stellar menu of the late-night ilk, throwing together a dizzying range of Indian chow, from tandoori starters to biryanis. You can order directly from the website or app, a godsend for some of us who cannot deal with telephonic interactions once the hanger sets in. Elsewhere, Knight Riders rustle up a menu tailor-made for the famished ones with a discerning taste – imagine cosying up on your living room couch at 3 am in the night and digging into a mac and cheese burger, a hot kheema-stuffed paratha or some tempting wok combos.
The big daddy in the business is NiteFoodie, which, besides being a competent multicuisine delivery service, also takes up midnight birthday cake requests! Try their lazeez murgh tikka biryani – the most ordered item on their menu – kababs, and curries. And if you place your order well in time, they also pick up groceries or other utilities on the way for you.
Exploring niche areas in the realm of midnight munchies are Mad Momos in Viman Nagar and Burger 11 in Koregaon Park. The former, by coming up with delightfully creative ideas such as tandoori chicken momo and Italian salami momo, besides incorporating the steamed dumplings into pizzas, sandwiches and noodles, has truly taken the phenomenon of momos to the next level. The latter, meanwhile, dishes out literally some of the best burgers I have ever tasted – no hyperbole here. Spot-on flavours in the sauces, tender, perfectly cooked patties available in buff, chicken, fish and vegetarian options, and scrumptious to the very last bite – the burgers make for a truly ‘satisfying’ midnight meal.
Follow Mrunmayi @moonogamy