This was during our stay at Ganga Kutir to celebrate Madhushree’s B-Day. We planned to have lunch at Sonar Tori Kolkata, the much acclaimed authentic Bengali Cuisine theme restaurant . We had Tugga with us, so wanted to have lunch at a place where we could have time and space both at abundance. Tugga is going through his terrible twos, so no prizes of guessing why we needed both.
One of the side effects of being getting passionate about blogging is that one starts to look around things from a bloggers perspective and you halt, stop, fall behind in a group. Documentation of those unique experiences in the SD memory card of your camera and mind becomes very important. This happened several times during our Sonar Tori visit .
The main entrance was adorned with a Bullock cart- one of the key symbols of a village ambience and as we entered the first room – it looked like the Baithak-khana or the drawing room of older days of a Zamindar bari ( Zamindar house) of Bengal . One cannot afford to miss the unique concept of design , rustic look and feel , vintage picture frames , heavy doors which welcome you. I paused . Allowed Madhushree and Tugga to move ahead. I kept taking pictures.
Once out of this room, there was a narrow walk through to enter another room . This room was the bedroom of a Zamindar. High king size bed with tall four posters, paintings on the wall , an old gramophone player, vintage furniture, all shouted out to freeze the moment and experience the ambiance. Later figured out that the ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee conceptualized and designed the entire restaurant. Humbly I can say that that my alumnus from Chandernagore has recreated a true representation of ancient Bengal Zamindar Bari in true sense .
Out of the bedroom and into the main dining hall. The entrance welcomed you with a famous quote from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore – jogote Anando jogne shobar Amontron . The walls were adorned with several famous quotes from Tagore’s poems.. The brass chandelier was a novelty. We missed seeing it lit up.
There was a set menu for vegetarians and non vegetarians, however with two options and two different set of prices . One could order additional veg and Non veg dishes at an extra charge. There was a Grameen or the villager’s thali and there was a Jamindari or the food of the landlords or zamindars. The prices for vegetarian for either Grameen or Jamindari was Rs 900 + taxes and for Non vegetarian for Grameen or Zamindari was Rs 999 + taxes . We ordered for a Grameen non Veg and a Jamindari Non veg Thali. The difference was in Kassa Murgi Kancha Lonka diye ( Chicken with green chilies ) and Dab Chingri ( Prawns flavoured with panch phoron or 5 spices used predominantly in bengal and cooked in a tender coconut shell) in Gramin non veg spread with Chingri Malaikari (Prawns cooked in coconut milk ) and Kochi Pathar Mangsho Alu diye ( Bengali Style Mutton Stew in a thin gravy stew made with tender goat meat and onions.)
Both the Jamindari and the grameen meal was kingly irrespective of the varieties and soon the food was served. The grameen variety came in an earthen plate whereas the Jamindari food came in brass plates. While we had Kalo Jeera Shukto for Gramin Aahar and Tahkur barir shukto from zamindari spread, both lived up to the reputation and standard and as we were hungry, the 3 of us feasted on that .
Aalu Jhinge posto ( Ridgegourd and Potato in Poppy seed Paste) was not exceptional rather lil bland . This is coming from someone who has grown up having this home cooked dish once a week, so may be for first timers this would taste decent . Hinger Kochuri and Luchi – both were freshly prepared and served hot and steaming and Narkel chholar daal from Grameen ahar was a clear winner here compared to the Sona Muger daal .
The Dab chingri was a deviation from the usual one. They used all of the malai of the daab along with”all spice”. The jumbo prawn replaced the medium sized shrimps which is normally served in Dab Chingri. The prawn was soft and I had the task of finishing off the Prawn Malaikari also as Madhushree is allergic to shell fish. That was also a jumbo prawn , very beautifully done and by the time I finished, I already started feeling filled up. However the stars of the meal were yet to be explored . Both the mutton and chicken were not overdone unlike most places and it was quite tender . Chicken was a winner with a better taste and distinct flavours .
There was a surprise in store as Chef Firoze the Executive Chef sent us Bhapa Ilish as a friendly gesture . And it swept the ground beneath our feet. Supposed to do a cameo it stole the show . The quality of fish, the taste , the balance of spices and the use of the panch phoran along with the mustard paste made it unputdownable and a clear winner.
Very little space was left after such a sumptuous meal, but we nibbled the desserts . Lal doi ( red sweet curd, mihidana and Langcha were top draw .
This place is a must visit for food lovers and bengali food lovers in particular , however the location restricts the walk- in customers . The average taste of some of the dishes are covered up by excellent service at the table . We would have loved to see the waiters in traditional bengali attire rather than in black trousers and white shirts . The quality of the food is not the top draw compared to other premium Bengali theme restaurants in the city however this is a must have experience and one should have at least a meal in Ganga Kutir .
A personal chat with ever smiling Executive Chef Firoze Hussain gave us some more information about Sonar Tori Kolkata.
Chef Firoze has been working here for the past 5 years after his 22 years of experience in various parts of the globe. Sonar Tori started with 3 types of food spread- The Grameen Ahar , The Zamndari Ahar and The Nawabi Bhoj – however as footfalls are an issue other than the in- house guests, so they stopped the Nawabi spread .
Before launch, Chef Hussain tried out all types of fishes available to set the menu . With strong focus on quality control and procurement, its ensured that the customers are offered the best and the freshest produce. There are perhaps no eminent celebrities from West Bengal who has not visited the place and complimented the food and experience here.
In case you plan to visit or have visited, then do leave your feedback in the comments section here on your experience .
P.S. – This is a non paid review . We paid for our food and the review was unplanned completely . Thanks Ffort Raichak and Sonar Tori Kolkata Management for allowing us to take pictures
We also had a wonderful stay at Ganga Kutir . You may read our experience here