Pondicherry: A Culinary Heaven

Pondicherry: A Culinary Heaven

As extensive as the Indian culture is, there are perhaps a million food trails to explore, indulge, and understand the local community. Take Pondicherry for instance. The cozy, colonial coastal town on the Bay of Bengal is said to be an artist’s haven, a hippie’s paradise, or even a spiritual respite. But many wouldn’t imagine this quaint sea-town to be gastronomic heaven. Whether you are a simple foodie or a gourmand, Pondicherry’s culinary trail is sheer pleasure to your taste buds and your soul. Let’s take a trip down the city’s famous food trail.

Pondicherry: A Culinary Heaven
[ photo: pexels ]

The food path of Pondy
Before we get to the destinations, here’s what you can expect to find on the food path of Pondicherry. With a rich, multicultural history, owing to the French, Portuguese, Vietnamese and ethnic Tamil settlers for hundreds of years, Pondy’s cuisine evolved as an eclectic blend of flavors. 

Many eateries still serve the classic recipes, for nostalgia’s sake, while, the others have revamped the recipes but retained a touch of the tradition. Also, even Indian recipes come with a touch of the old world charm. So, start your journey with an open mind and embrace what comes to your plate.

How to explore
The best way to reach Pondicherry is through Chennai. Book a taxi from Chennai airport to Pondicherry and you will reach in less than three hours. You can keep the car throughout your trip. Tucked within the dainty villas and colorful buildings around the city, you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes, delis, and bakeries, each serving what makes up for the city’s culinary savoir-fare. 

You can create an itinerary in advance, so you know where to head first, and how long you will take at each place. You can also take a walk down the winding cobblestone roads and alleys and land at your chosen food destinations. Either way, there are a few places that have become major milestones on Pondicherry’s food trail.

Grand Bakery, Mission Street
What’s better than a bakery to start the day? Most gastronomes believe that the older a bakery is in a city, the better they get with taste. And they couldn’t be truer. The Grand Bakery on Mission Street is the perfect example. 

Serving the city, across locals and tourists alike, for more than 50 years, and still counting, Grand is a place you will love if you have a soft corner for confections. From the crispy cookies to flakiest pastries, buns and traditional cakes, every item uses their age-old recipes. We bet you wouldn’t leave without packing a goodie-bag for the road.

Le Café, Beach Road
Need a cup of rich, aromatic coffee to wash down your bakery shenanigans? Head straight to Le Café. They are known to serve freshly-brewed, organic, unique coffee blends that could take you on an aroma trip. Their touch of French is not just in the name but also in their eatables. Besides the best coffee in town, Le Café also has a fancy collection of French pastries and interesting savory dishes.

Between your breakfast and next meal, you might want to explore the town or take a dip in the sea, for you will need to save room for your next food stop. To make this plan easier, you can opt for tour packages to Pondicherry from Chennai, which will also take around local sightseeing along with letting you explore the food trail.

Villa Shanti, Suffren Street
If you could imagine how the town would have been in the 16th -17th century, then take a minute to absorb the ambiance of Villa Shanti. The iconic restaurant of Pondicherry sits within a vintage French mansion (dating back to the colonial days) and exudes class at every frame. 

But don’t just get starry-eyed yet, because what you will find on your plate is also classic and unique. From their house-baked bread with homemade butter, grilled chicken with orange reduction, and pan-seared barracuda (as per availability) are a few must-try. Wholesome, flavorful, with a touch of European nostalgia, Villa Shanti offers a luxuriant dining experience.

Carte Blanche, Hotel De L’Orient
End the day with a touch of Creole cuisine. Carte Blanch brings you the flavors of Southern United States all the way to Pondicherry and gives a touch of India to it. Set in the 18th-century mansion, housing the Hotel De L’orient, the ambiance of this quaint restaurant will take you to the French countryside. Don’t forget to try the Tamarind Fish Curry, Sand Lobster, and Ratatouille.

Besides these top favorites, there are a couple of noteworthy restaurants that make it to the culinary map of Pondicherry-

Surguru, Mission Street - for classic South Indian ‘thali’
Cafe Des Arts – for modern French flair. Their croque-monsieur, gazpacho, nd fondant au chocolat, are must-try!

Tasting the flavors of where you travel is the surest, truest way to is soul. And if you want to feel Pondicherry’s soul, then you must taste the city. And as late Anthony Bourdain once said, “Food had power. It could inspire, astonish, shock, excite, delight, and impress. It had the power to please me.” So let the city’s food trail do that to you!

Neha Singh is a full-time writer cum blogger with a keen interest in making friends and penning articles on any topic under the sun. She believes in living life to the fullest, and is on a constant lookout for new skills that she can acquire. You can check her blogs on Sosoactive.com

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