Restaurant Reviews

Waari Book Café, Kothrud, Pune

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Waari Book Café, Kothrud, Pune

Postby manish » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:58 pm

Can you imagine J Krishnamurti's photo in a café? Why wouldn't you fall in love with a place that has great, eclectic collection of books ranging from Haruki Murakami, Franz Kafka to Rujuta Divekar (ahem)!

That's Waari for you - newly opened café right in the heart of Kothrud, near Choice Health Club.


Waari Book Café - Classy & Unique!


I visited Waari twice recently and loved this place. Café is lot more than its food - it is more about its ambiance and whole experience that it offers! I fell in love with its decor and ambiance the very first time when I visited it in the first week of after its opening. There were not many food items when I visited it for the first time, and they also had some problems with their coffee machine at that time, so we ordered filter coffee and it was rather forgettable. However, I liked the place and wanted to try it again. So I tried it again yesterday and man, was I delighted?

Read on for the detailed review, rush to Summing Up if you are in a hurry... Don't visit Waari in a hurry though, the place deserves more time!

Ambiance


Beautiful and classy decor at Waari


The very first thing that captures your attention at Waari is its unique and classy decor. It is not something that a professional interior decorator can achieve all by herself/himself - the decor shows distinct personality of the café owner. Waari is owned by Satee Bhave Hall, who, among other things has also written the screenplay for critically acclaimed Vihir directed by Umesh Kulkarni. The café has an amazing display of beautiful frames, colourful lamps, fabrics, textures and even a photo of Jiddu Krishnamurti and his books as well (I could spot Commentaries On Living there). And while I am talking about it, I must mention its great & eclectic collection of books - you won't find many of those books in most libraries here. They have collection of Haruki Murakami, Franz Kafka to Rujuta Divekar (ahem!). They even have a decent collection of Marathi books as well. Interestingly, many of those books are old and collected over the years, some of them are even out-of-print now - I found one such award-winning book by Nida Fazli. That shows how passionately the owner has collected and shared these lovely books instead of just stuffing the café with latest bestsellers or few famous coffee table books. In fact, their collection of books deserves a separate post and I hope to add it here sometime soon. I am yet to see a better collection in any café (and many private libraries) in India.

BTW, Waari even has idols of Vitthal and Rakhumai and that explains their name quite well! :-) The ambiance is unique and has character of its own, and I love the way it has shaped up! Have a look at these photos.


Eclectic collection of books at Waari


Even kids get lost in those books at Waari!


Wow! Shel Silverstein book at Waari!




And these wonderful frames at Waari


J Krishnamurti photo adorning one of the walls of Waari


True to its name - Waari


That's Waari kitchen



Why wouldn't you love this place - Waari!


The Food

As I mentioned earlier, my first experience of filter coffee was forgettable, but we tried quite a few dishes yesterday and liked their food. We tried Misal, Nuttela Burger (two small buns loaded with delicious Nuttela spread), Paneer sandwich and two large mugs of cappuccino. Misal is not the typical spicy Misal that you'd find at Misal joints, but it is milder (not sweet) and more of homely Misal. You can skip it if you like the spicy ones. The mini burgers were delicious, coffee had perfect aroma and taste, though those mugs were too large to finish. I almost finished my weekly quota of coffee in a day! :P Paneer Sandwich was the star of the evening. Wonderfully loaded brown breads perfectly grilled and presented with attractive presentation - all this at ₹ 50 is quite a steal! They now sell combination of two such dishes at ₹ 100. Have a look at the wonderful dishes that perfectly complement great books that they have at Waari -


Misal, Nutella burger & large mugs of coffee at Waari


Delicious paneer sandwich at Waari


Talking about prices, I have read some of its early reviews on Zomato and some of them indicated that prices are on the higher side at Waari - it might have been true earlier but definitely not now. Yesterday, I saw a board there mentioning revised prices and as of now, I think prices are really low, to the extent that I am wondering if they would be sustainable. Given the size, quality and nature of this café, I think they should increase prices a bit to make sure that their business is sustainable. You can try any of the CCDs or similar eat-outs and you won't find sandwiches or coffee at such prices. I hope they don't try to please everyone, this is not a quick-grab place, it's a concept books café and has its own expenses to maintain this exclusive place. I hope they soon find correct pricing plan that justifies the class of this place. The prices now are way too low and must increase to make them prosper! Here is the announcement I saw yesterday -


Revised menu at Waari


Service

Both times when I visited Waari, I saw it being manged by a young girl and she was not only warm but also very courteous and helpful in explaining the menu and their preparation. However, the staff that prepares and delivers the food didn't seem to handle orders well - they didn't even seem polite enough to talk. Our food took time but they had coffee mugs ready and suggested that we finish them first before they could get our snacks. I had to explain that we'd rather have food first before our coffee or at least have coffee with food. By the time food arrived, coffee was not hot anymore and they didn't seem to understand fundamentals of serving the order and looked confused. Also, one mug was full and the other was only half-full. Same young lady helped us to get full coffee in both the mugs. During our second order, they gave us only 1 Paneer sandwich though we had ordered two, and again this young lady came to help us and explained him that we had ordered two sandwiches (though written on kitchen order ticket) and asked him to prepare the other one. I think they are having some initial glitches but the management seems to be keen on making customers happy and that is really heartening. I could see that young girl running around to ensure that everything was running smooth. I had wanted to catch up with her and talk more about their café, but I couldn't manage yesterday. I think it is more of inexperience showing rather than any other serious service issues. I think things would get better quickly if they just train their staff to be little more professional and courteous.

Suggestions...

When you find a place that is as unique and precious as Waari, you really want them to flourish and prosper. They have really created a space that any book-lover or creative person would fall in love with. I have read initial reviews of this café and management's response to those inputs. I think they have gone overboard now while reducing the prices, it would be difficult to sustain business at these prices. It is not a place where you are expected to vacate your table as soon as you finish your food, it is rather a leisurely hangout place where you can sit for hours. So you pay not only for the food, but also for the ambiance and experience it offers. I understand making it accessible to everyone, but this is a unique and exclusive place, and that deserves certain pricing strategy to ensure that they become what they are capable of - a unique, classy place that its fans would vouch for (count me in for this). I really wish them well and would love to see them flourish, here are some of my suggestions in brief -

  1. Add more food items (they are already doing it) and price them accordingly instead of a fixed price for multiple dishes.
  2. The revised prices are way too low, all of them must increase to a reasonable level without making them way too high. I hope they figure it out soon.
  3. They need to figure out ways to make this place more interesting. This can be a wonderful venue for poetry circles, book launches or small film screenings. I hope they take event organization seriously for Waari, another smaller book-café Pagadandi has been doing it quite successfully.

Summing Up

If you are a book-lover or interested in creative arts of any kind, you must visit Waari. The place can be recommended purely based on its ambiance and collection of books. They don't have too many items on their menu yet, but then their menu is growing and most of their dishes are tasty. I can assure you that if you love books and if you visit Waari once, you'd be a regular Waarkari soon!

I wish I could visit it daily and do my work from there! I am definitely going to visit it often! Highly recommended! :-)

Rating -

Food - 4/5
Service - 3.5/5
Ambiance - 5/5
Value for money - 4.5/5

Overall - 4.5/5
Restaurant info on Zomato
manish
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Name: Manish Hatwalne

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