Where can we have coffee in this area ?
We just had chai from Panditji – I replied
Madhushree and I were standing at the famous Waterloo Street – A famous place in my life, where for 2 years I did my MBA and Panditji was the only external person other than the faculties, whom we used to visit regularly – The first tea shop owner in that lane while you go towards Dacres Lane.
Why don’t we try The Lalit Great Eastern Bakery ?
Between 1998 – 2000, when I was a regular at Waterloo Street – Then Great Eastern was at its nadir and it famous bakery was almost a remnant of the past. We were never that much interested in the bakery other than the fact that Baba at home used to keep on sharing stories about the bakery and how that street used to smell of fresh bakery produce and more of pure butter … We never understood that.
Sheepishly we opened the door and we had a surprise waiting for us. With utmost care, the place had been revamped. ( Great Eastern was shut between 2005 to 2013 for all the renovation)
Since its opening in 1840 as Wilsons Hotel by Mr. David Wilson, an Englishman, who ran a very successful bakery called Wilsons Bakery at the same place, it changed its name several times – from the Auckland Hotel to Wilsons Hotel, then The Great Eastern Hotel, the Grand Great Eastern Hotel to Finally being rechristened as The Lalit Great Eastern.
The beautiful posters and the first advertisement of the Hotel put up on the wall, takes you back to a different era altogether. Very Interesting was, when the hotel was opened it was considered that women would not travel alone.
The Lalit Great Eastern Bakery was the most talked about place in the erstwhile Great Eastern Hotel and now it has been shifted to a new place, but the feeling is vintage.
The century old oven manufactured in England by Baker Perkins Limited is the focal point of this bakery, which is now more of a cafe. The original oven has been converted into a PDR. Part of the old brick wall had been preserved and part has been craft-fully recreated with a very close resemblance to the old wall.
Some of the old superhits and some new inclusions have happened. After the soft launch on Nov 2013, they decided to open the bakery on christmas of 2013 and on the first day, the first person stood at the queue outside the bakery from 7.30 AM in the morning waiting for his share of cake. The queue lengthened and by 9PM, when the bakery opened there were at least a 100 people in the line. The staff and GM treated everyone with cookies and refreshments and had to assure that everyone will get atleast 1 cake. That night, the entire bakery team did not sleep and production was enhanced, anticipating more rush in the coming days. Kolkata had got its cake and nostalgia back .
The Dim puffs ( Egg puffs) as they used to be called earlier, an assortment of breads, the Belgian chocolate hazelnut mousse and The classical opera, are a must try here. In the past, the entire street used to smell of freshly baked breads at all times and this is a befitting tribute to it.
Their signature dish is the Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake. It is a creation of their Pastry Chef Utsav Rohatgi. It is one of its kind mousse cake set without any gelatin or eggs. Made with the finest quality of Belgian chocolate, it is light and airy and with every spoonful, it leaves you wanting for more.
The classical opera is another not to be missed cake. It is made with layers of almond sponge, coffee biscuits and chocolate ganache. The best part about all the cakes here at the Bakery is the high quality of chocolate used and the the very thin layer of ganache which is spread, gives that extra taste on your palette without making you feel heavy.
The specialty of the blue berry cheese cake is the velvety texture with the surprise of the home made blue berry jam in the centre.
Few of the other not to be missed ones are the various berry pies, the apple pie, the dim puff and the profiterole. Maintaining the tradition, they still boast of an array of breads, from Multigrain to Masala cheese, whole wheat etc and all of them are freshly baked normal home recipes without any emulsifiers.
We didn’t realise when it had started raining and when memories were refreshed in my mind, while the coffee also ended. Drops of waters on the windowpane had already created random patterns of their own. It was time for us to leave but not before another final walk around the cafe, feeling those walls which had withstood time and history- history of almost 175 years …