On your way to Mumbai, to catch the flight out to your overseas destination? Or want to indulge in that much needed break on your way to Mumbai? Just feeling like a drive out and can’t quite make up your mind where to head to? In any of the above situations, you need to make that mandatory stop at Shree Datta Snacks on the Mumbai Express Highway, at the Khalapur Food Court.
We did just that while on our way to Mumbai, to pick up our overseas guests from the airport. Within a couple of hours of starting from Pune, we felt like that much needed break. We started looking out for Shree Datta snacks. We knew from some of our earlier visits to the Food Court, that the highest car density would be in this location. Cramped, and feeling like a stretch, we walked in for a cuppa coffee and some tasty local snacks. On entering Shree Datta, we found that the queues to buy the coupons were rather long. However, we soon found that there were two lines for this, and the queue moved fast. In no time, we had the four coupons in our hand and headed for the counter that served the delicacies.
The place seemed cool even though the temperatures had soared the whole day. We realised soon enough that this was because of the wet khus khus curtains hanging the entire length of the restaurant. Being a self service, we quickly picked up the coffee, and stood in the line for the snacks. The service was efficient and within a few minutes we walked to an empty table to savour our delicacies. Kothimbeer vadi was a first time for me, but I must admit that it was better than I expected. It was soft and delicious! For just Rs. 40, we got two reasonably large pieces of it. Most of the items on the list were about the same price. Also, the wada pau was hot, as were all the other snacks. This is probably the most important reason that the restaurant is so popular. Right up to the last minute, it is open till 9 pm, the food you would find is freshly fried and served. Kharwas, a specialty sweet, is also on the menu for Rs. 30 a plate.
All in all, although this has the flavours of a typical Pune tapari, a popular term for a shanty tea stall strategically located, Shree Datta is for sure a more comfortable experience. What may have been a shanty seven years ago, has now emerged as a much sought after restaurant, loved alike by Mubaikars as much as Punekars. The menu has those regular items like the wada pau, sabudana wada, or kanda pohe. But, you would also get to indulge in the delicacies like the Kothimbeer vadi or the Kharwas, a special sweet dish. But, what impressed me the most were the cardboard service trays which I found truly innovative. If you have not been there yet, this is one place you cannot give a miss to!!