Rustam’s Strawberry Inn: Panchgani's Parsi Delight
Tired of the heat and dust of the city and feel like a drive out within a couple of hours from Pune? That’s how we stumbled upon Rustam’s! While on the way to Panchgani/Mahabaleshwar, with family members last week, we chanced upon this Parsi restaurant; a gem many would miss normally, as it is neither a much-hyped restaurant nor in the midst of the market place. Located in Panchgani, just a bit further after you have crossed its market place, Rustam’s had a rustic feel about it. The dining area had large French windows with a distant view of the valley. The décor was simple and sparsely done up. It certainly did not look shabby, which is commendable, considering the fact that it stands here for over 25 years, serving travellers.
We were a bunch of hungry people, on the lookout for a place which served something different from the standard Indian dishes! Not expecting to find a good place so quickly, we were surprised when we suddenly passed by the board announcing Parsi food. The place seemed empty initially, but soon started filling up. The crowd included tourists like us, but also families whose kids were possibly studying in local schools in Panchgani.
Without much ado, we ordered the standard Parsi dishes, names that we were familiar with. Dhansak, both chicken and mutton did not disappoint. The servings were generous, at Rs.300 and Rs. 350 respectively. The mutton was tender. The chicken kebabs that we ordered were so good that we ordered that unnecessary extra plate that we forced ourselves to finish. The desserts were of course strawberry ice creams, fresh strawberry n cream, and our very own Caramel Custard. Then, of course, they also serve the standard Indian and Chinese dishes that no restaurant dare avoid. The bit that could be upgraded were the plastic plates on which we ate, as those kept turning as we tried to turn our spoons into the brown rice. Yes, and also the servers were not the friendliest souls. They were not very easily accessible. But that being said, they were professional.
Ah, and the big surprise was when we went to the reception area to speak with the lady who runs the place, Rupa Sethna. She invited us to taste some of their ‘home grown strawberry’ jam. It was delicious and worth all the calories packed into it. And we could not help picking up four of those bottles for future use, for Rs.200 a bottle. While chatting with her, we discovered that the Chef’s recommendations were, of course, some of their Parsi specials: Patra Fish, Chicken Sali and the house special Rustam Delight!
It was not just the food that was the high point of the restaurant, but it was the overall experience here that was good. If you start from Pune after breakfast, you will chance upon the place just as you are beginning to feel the hunger pangs again. Once you order, the food arrives quickly. Finally, it is a spacious place and the large windows give that feeling of space that adds to the ambience. If you are lucky, the owner might even allow you to take a stroll through her strawberry garden for free!! So, if all that sounds attractive, head out for Panchgani and Rustam’s!
Address: Rustam’s Strawberry Inn, Seven Acres, Bhose, Panchgani, 412805