Huffing and puffing, as you mount the steep, rickety, wooden steps for the first time, you may wonder, “Sonia! Where on Earth are you taking me?!”
Once you ascend those steps, you arrive in New Land. A warm and relaxing glow greets you as you enter, putting your heart at a gentle ease. Quaint and cozy little tables under the broad arches hug you left and right. The bustle and chatter of excited voices from people of many ages tickle your ears at the crowded counter in front. A deeply sweet aroma of butter and sugar intermingles with the bitter bubbling of steaming coffee. Can you smell it? Can you taste it yet?
If you are anything like me, you gravitate towards the chocolate truffles, mousses, and hot chai, only to be swiftly, briskly directed to the leftmost side of the counter, where you notice for the first time, two old gentlemen, sitting peacefully at computers amidst the chaos, exchanging rupees for paper tickets. It is critical to meet them and obtain that paper if you want to stop drooling and actually eat anything.
Once you have your small meaningful slip from those old gentlemen, you can sit back and watch the clockwork behind the counter – the tickets line up at a rapid pace, the youngsters weave in and out from the back kitchen to the front, some start yelling this order and that order as they dole out chutney sandwiches, cold coffees, milkshakes, teas, and juices, others adeptly wrap and staple the parcels (the Indian name for “to-go” orders)…
You are, of course, welcome to sit inside, but I suggest that you sit at the tables lining the balcony, overlooking the busy Mahatma Gandhi road below as the crisp air brushes through your air. It is a bit more special, more intimate. I do believe that it makes all the difference.
It is charming. It is beautiful. It is Marz-o-rin.
One of the oldest and most popular cafes in Pune, situated on the famous Mahatma Gandhi (MG) road, Marz-o-rin is a delightful place!
The name always makes me think of margarine, or marzipan. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?
When it first opened back in 1965, Marz-o-rin served only four items, the most famous being milky cold coffee and fresh chutney sandwiches. Things have changed since then, and now their menu is expansive. Despite nearly 50 years in age, Marz-o-rin has kept itself current, quickly adapting itself to best serve the needs of those who step into its home as the world keeps evolving.
FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT CLIMB, there is a little dainty telephone on the ground-floor, nestled amongst a few tables and chairs. Customers can use this special phone to place their orders and enjoy the cafe from below. Very thoughtful.
FOR THE HEALTH NUTS like myself, Marz-o-rin ensures freshness and quality ingredients in all of their items. Beyond the traditional cakes, cookies, ice-creams, and milkshakes, they proudly serve fresh squeezed juices and multi-grain sandwiches. The other day, I even saw some flax-seed and millet biscuits on the shelf, next to the buttery Shrewsbury biscuit packages. That made me happy.
Really, there is something here for everyone!
So, what have I tried? A couple things. Let me tell you about them.
The hot coffee.
It’s divine. I am not a coffee drinker by any means, but when given the rare chance to have a little cup of the delicious stuff, I jump at the opportunity. Indian coffee is made mostly with milk and often times some sort of spice, like chicory. The coffee here at Marz-o-rin is heart warming on a rainy monsoon day.
The cold coffee.
It’s like drinking a cone of coffee ice-cream. Creamy, frothy, milky, and a beautiful light brown, this drink comes in a plastic cup with a straw. It is filling, it is rich! It definitely hits the spot on a hot day of shopping.
The double chocolate ice cream.
It’s decent, but nothing out of this world. I worked at the best ice-cream parlor all throughout college, and therefore, when it comes to ice-cream, I’m a tough critic.
The coconut macaroons.
They are inspiring. I must try to re-create these when I get home! Coconut macaroons are one thing I have never given much thought about because I have never tasted one that was this good. Marz-o-rins’ are densely filled with flaky coconut, yet not overladen with butter. They are light, airy, and yes, on the sweet side, making them an excellent complement to bitter coffee.
The almond macaroons.
Quite wonderful, but when eaten side by side with the coconut ones, the coconut macaroons win. These are also dense, with a rich flavor of marzipan, and less sweet. Perfect with hot coffee or chai.
I like this place so much – beautiful food, a romantic charm of age, history, and character, and a genuine warm, welcoming experience. Just imagine how many walks of life have sat in these chairs, smiling, sipping on coffee, crunching the biscuits…
Writing about this makes me want to be there now. Coffee date anyone? My treat.
- interviewing intuition.
- The phoenix.