When we were young, there used to be a very popular TV show called ‘The World this week’ and then every last Friday of the year, there used to be ‘The World this week year end special’ .Curling up inside quilts, we used to eagerly wait for the Friday primetime 10 PM show and check out all that had happened. This is a humble effort to recap the year that was in Kolkata food scene for 2017.
The year started with a Grand bang. It was the launch of the all day dining of The Oberoi Grand Kolkata. After 360 and 361 in Gurgaon and Delhi, it was Threesixtythree in Kolkata. Mr. Varun Chibber – the Ex GM who has now moved to Oberoi Gurgaon, left no stone unturned in converting the place which erstwhile had La Terrace and Chowringhee Bar, into an upclass, swanky yet with a touch of tradition all day dining. We visited the place many a times later for various reasons and each time this place has lived up to its superior expectation. With live Sushi counters for lunch buffet, a significant local presence in the breakfast spread and some delectable desserts – you can walk in to this place at any time and the food won’t fail you.
Recommended – Sushi, salads, the starters and the desserts form an enviable triangle where you can make as many round as possible and quite often forget about the main course, when it comes to the buffet.
Rarely it has happened in Kolkata food scene that in a single calendar year, two major All day dinings have got revamped and Cal 27 of Taj Bengal is the latest welcome addition with the old Kolkata look of window frames, squared black and white tiles and a new Bar and a wine cellar. The place has got modified, as has the food under Chef Sonu Koithara. Definitely a note of appreciation goes for the entire team involved in this. I loved the Taj Autograph collection which are handpicked signature dishes from across the world. The launch party was a great one and I had the opportunity to showcase to Dipali, one of the best foodie and food knowledge owner and my bestest friend from Delhi on how things happen in Kolkata
Recommended – Fish Exotica, Narsi Goreng, Chili Chocolate Parfait, Bunny Chow, LamPrais
Hyatt and ITC Sonar completed 15 years of operation in Kolkata and although we planned many times to re visit the Sunday Brunch at La Cucina, somehow we could not make time. That’s one of the to do list for next year. With Sumit Priyadarshi – the chef in charge for La Cucina moving out, I will be keen to experience it once again. Congratulations to Birgit, Amit, Clayton and Hina for a super successful party on completion of 15 years. Pan Asian has become a favourite joint for the family for multiple reasons– be it the crystal menu or the Sushis. It was a coincidence that JW Marriott, which opened up last year around this time was also completing it’s 1st year of operation here. Vintage Asia is the dark horse when it comes to Asian food in Kolkata and while we tasted it for the first time on a bloggers table, we went back with Dipali when she was in Kolkata and once again the experience surpassed expectations. Vintage Asia is the place, which we aspire to go time and again and these are the dishes which are a must order- The dimsums are incredible, even the vegetarian ones. Gai Yang, a roast chicken from Northern Thailand is delicious grill and tender grill with a kick of Thai flavours.
There hasn’t been any occasion when I didn’t mention this to Devraj Singh – the ex GM of The Gateway Hotel Kolkata that when it comes to food scene and indigenous meals and dishes, the Buzz is one of the most underrated place in Kolkata. While the Ilish festival, like last 3 years, was a super hit, chef Ashish Roy has been successful in creating and sustaining a dedicated Bangladeshi menu and some amazing lunch spreads. The Sorshe Rosogolla that we had during Durga Puja was one of the best innovative dishes of the year. It is a loss for The Gateway Kolkata and for the city that both the skipper (Digvijay Singh) and Vice Captain (Exec Chef Ashish Roy) change teams at the same time. Wishing now the New GM for Rishikesh property of Taj and Chef Asish as the Exec Chef for Rambagh Palace all the best. Chef Deep Mitra Thakur takes up the reigns from Asish and wishing him all the best.
Few of the meals in this year which will always make the year special –
The Bohri Thaal at ITC Sonar was a journey of Salt and sweet and bheja cutlets, Russian kebab, Baida Roti and many more. Cannot forget the Zam Zam Pulao and the Bohri Khichda
What Bukhara has done to North Indian food, its Karavalli for the South Indian food and what a meal we had in the company of Chef Naren Thimmaiah and his stories. His focus on food, sourcing ingredients and precision over process of cooking is like that SOP which needs to be revisited time and again.
Wasabi by Morimoto happened when I was in HongKong and it has been a while where the food posts from HongKong is pending. As heard from Madhushree, the pop up was sold out, the bloggers had orgasms over food and they keep on remembering the Pork Belly till date. Read it here
The Tribal pop up was the best horizon widening meal for the brutal honesty and preparations that was offered. This was at Taj Bengal Kolkata.
In Stand Alone restaurants, we met Chef Joymalya Banerjee, owner of Bohemian when he introduced Boho Hours and then later also, for few meals that we had there. I still remember, when I first visited Bohemian in 2012, I didn’t think it would work without alcohol and it seemed very expensive at that point of time. Now, I like his food the most for his redefining the foodscape and of course times have changed, plus there is alcohol too. Lucky are we that restaurants like Bohemian sustain successfully in Kolkata Food scene and also get awarded as one of the Top 50 restaurants in India by CN traveler. Rarely one would forget the fiasco which Mocambo faced on the issues of Non entry of a person, good to see that it has survived that and got listed as one of the best restaurants in India. We lost the count on how many times we went to Monkey Bar this year. Monkey Bar has become a place of indulgence and perhaps, to get drunk. Lazy lunches and Mad Men introspection with Pork Ribs and Kerala Beef fry being the obvious orders. Monkey Bar completes 1 year and we have Fatty Bao just a floor beneath Monkey Bar. As Chef Partner Manu Chandra says that Kolkata is the place where he gets best Bhalobasha, Fatty Bao lands here after a lot of waiting but it’s worth the wait. The PB&J and Char siu Bao was long awaited. Very happy that The Grid and The Coastal Macha going strong as they completed 1 years of operation and the consistency of food has been maintained throughout.
It is so strange and raises few questions when I see Flury’s celebrate 90 years and Au Bon Pain shutting down. What determines the success of a place? These two joints side by side, one completing 90 years, wrapped in Nostalgia and has equal number of well wishers and detractors, minimum degree of positive changes in the last few years and yet has a fan following. Is this a symbolic representation of Kolkata or Park Street? I would have loved to love this romanticism if i was a NRK (Non resident Kolkatan) but being in Kolkata, I want to look ahead. Hard Rock Cafe is definitely a positive addition in Park Street and as I end, I share my wishlist for Kolkata food scene for next year –
- The reason for Aloo in Biryani and best Biryani in Kolkata, Roshogolla, phuchka have been iconic for Kolkata food scene for long enough and expect that to continue in coming years but I wish for new icons
- The local cuisine from the surrounding states of West Bengal remains unexplored in Kolkata and I would like to see tribal cuisine restaurants opening up and why not a proper Goan cuisine restaurant
- Shift in the mindset from Value from Money to Value for Quality for appreciation for food
- I wish More pop ups are happening here. My friend Sherry Malhotra who specialises in Himachali and Punjabi cuisine has been holding a few in the city and hers is a food I strongly recommend, same with Manzilat Fatima who specializes in Awadhi cuisine but we need more and have enough head space.
- Wish more microbreweries coming up beyond the few ones that we have and the beer community grows up
- Heritage places getting converted into great eateries, the example which comes to my mind is the Haveli Dharampura in Delhi where I had a lovely lunch and catching up with Dipali.
- Chef Joymalya plans to change his entire menu by next March and that’s something which we will look forward to.
- I would definitely wish for another good Bengali restaurant opening up. Tired of giving the same names to anyone who comes from outside to enjoy Bengali cuisine.
Whether we should try to define Indian food or not is something which food writers like Kalyan Karmakar can handle and do a justice to it.I enjoyed reading that and you can read it here. There will be many lists and hits and misses will get published for this year when it comes to food so by no way this is an attempt to match up with them, but a documentation in my opinon the year that was and leaves us with a promising next year. If you are a foodie and stay in Kolkata, or travelled to kolkata this year let me know what has been your experience and what are your wishes for Kolkata food scene for next year?
Wishing you all a very happy new year and may all your dreams come true. You all have been great supportive reader and thanks for so much of support.