Vantage point

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


One of the best things about living in Lucknow is the food. The Nawabi cuisine is legendary and millions of foodies have salivated gallons while thinking of the tunde kebabs, nahari-kulchas, biryanis, prakash kulfis, aloo chaat, pani-battasey that the city dishes out.

However today I will talk about two places known for fare that is not traditionally associated with Lucknow.

I am going to talk about.....and a BIG statement coming up next.....THE BEST Pizza place and THE BEST coffee shop that I have ever been to.

Pizza Port is a tiny restaurant located behind the Kapoorthala Complex in Lucknow. Other than pizzas, they also serve a bit of chinese food, and a bit of continental stuff. However their pizzas are worth dying for. Both vegetarian and non vegetarian pizzas are absolutely scrumptious. Pizzas have been part of the Indian food scene for about a decade now. While I do like any kind of pizza, I have noticed that there are two extremes. One is the Pizza Hut or Dominos type of pizza. Yes, they say they have tried to adapt the pizza to Indian palate, but I don't think they have quite managed it yet. Most pizzas from these big places leave one feeling very dry. And for a cola-hater like me, an irritating fact is that you have to keep asking for water like it is a rare commodity. Another thing I have noticed about these foreign chains is their sparse toppings. Maybe it is a ruse to get people to order extra toppings and thus make money off it, but the "default" quantity of the topping is very unsatisfactory, and this adds to the "dryness" factor.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are your total desi pizzas. These people use apna normal cheese, simple tomato puree and extremely weird pizza bases. You can make a similar pizza at home.

Even regards the price, pizzas occupy antipodes. An 8 inch pizza in an American chain would cost you around 120-180 rupees, while the same in a desi joint would cost you 30-40 rupees.

I give you Pizza Port. They have achieved the golden mean not only in terms of the price, but the taste as well. The toppings they use are a true combination of Western recipes and Indian preferences. The cheese, veggies and meat are in ample quantity and the pizza base is not visible on the top surface, like in Pizza Hut. A veg 8 inch costs 60-65 rupees and a non-veg one costs 65-80 rupees. The taste is just phenomenal. The ambience is pretty decent, and the delivery service is very fast.

Needless to say, Pizza Port is doing good business in Lucknow. Dominos views it as a major threat, especially since the owner is planning to open 2 more branches. IIML students have been begging him to start a nationwide chain, and we hope he will do so very soon. Because when we leave Lucknow, one thing I will really miss is the pizzas from Pizza Port. Not only the pizzas, but even the limited chinese and continental fare here is amazing. The veg au gratin is definitely the best I have eaten anywhere, as is the fish and chips.

The second place I will miss a lot is Cappuccino Blast on Mall Avenue(next to Mayawati's house). Though I discovered this place only last week, I have already fallen in love with it. The place is a pinnacle of interior decoration for a coffee shop. Artfully selected tables, chairs and cups are just one part of it. One wall is dedicated to announcements, notices and messages that patrons want to put up. Another wall has the best 3-D collage I have ever seen. It has an entire chess board, and a tea tray hangling perpendicular from the wall. The chandeliers that light up the place are exquisite. The third wall is a glass wall, and you can see the tables located in the garden outside.

A gift shop is attached to the cafe, where you get gift articles like key chains, earrings, trinkets, cutlery, hankies, and Giordano watches.

The menu is varied with different types of coffees and snacks, and the prices are just a shade lower than Barista. The coffee served in cute steel cups is great as well.

With only 2 months to go in this city, rest assured that I will frequent the two places a lot. I do hope both establishmentsdecide to open nationwide chains, because I will miss them when I leave Lucknow.