As a food enthusiast and as a food blogger, I have many wishes. Some are personal and some are for my city Kolkata. You can read about few of them here. The Salt House Kolkata was not predicted but it’s good that it happened. Yes perhaps, the best beginning of the year showing lots of promise for the days to come.
People behind The Salt House Kolkata
Saloni Jhunjhunwala has been a friend for a long time through her Kaos Gourmet cookies, which we used to order in our office almost twice a week. Prachi has been her partner in Kaos Gourmet. As Saloni says, we have been a silent customer of hers till such time that the orders were getting delivered to us. Chef Auroni Mookherji joins them. This should not read as his promotion but a few words are worth spending on him. The CV reads as a former Ad person, then joined Cafe Zoe Mumbai. In the mean time, carried out pop ups – from the Grandma Mookherji’s kitchen as well as Kurrybrothers in Mumbai and then here. It’s surprising for a Delhi brought up and Mumbai settled Bengali, who calls himself as NRB (Non resident Bengali), to understand the Bengali flavours so well, unless one has a penchant for cooking and taste buds which know where the roots are.
What do you get in The Salt House Kolkata ?
Good food. Innovative use of local ingredients in European masterpieces. Balance of flavours. The list can continue. The three sections comprise of the dining area with a view of the wood fire oven which will be operational soon and some napoletan pizza. The open area is a romantic date night place with a podium for live performances too and currently some classic retro music is being played. The lounge area will be operational soon with a DJ console.
The food at The Salt House Kolkata
It’s the restaurant with one of the most interesting menu in recent times offering European dishes with a Bengali twist for the guests, which guarantees to be a talk of the town in the coming days. If it’s the Soup and Salad to start the meal, then check out the Chicken tortellini in broth which will definitely remind you of the Kolkata wanton soups and fried brussel sprouts with feta and pomegranate salad is a colourful warm salad on your plate which will give the perfect start to an interesting meal. One can also try out the Greek salad or for local flavour, the sauteed Kolkata greens with croutons and capers. The menu has small plates for quick bites, bagels, one meals with omelettes and egg dishes. For classic diners who will go with time, appetite and in a mood to experiment, the mains will leave you with a memory.
The pastas, breads and sauces are all made in house. There are common ones like carbonara, aglio e olio, mac n cheese but the predicted show stopper is the mutton and pork ragu with handmade pappardelle. The pasta couldn’t get more silky and smooth while the meaty flavour of the ragu is an absolute killer. Much will be talked about the beet and parmesan risotto or the wonderful amalgamation of flavours in quinoa, asparagus and truffle risotto. Chef Auroni replaces Salmon with Sea bhetki and must say, this is a bold step as Kolkata has its preference for fresh water fish. The pan seared bhetki has all the elements in place and more. Kolkata greens like kolmi and Pui saag along with spinach and the beurre blanc served separately so that the perfect balance can be maintained. The skin of bhetki was not crackling crispy but with slight fish fat under and some saltiness, was a new taste altogether. The slice of Gondhoraj that comes with it is a reminder of how the Bengalis squeeze lemon with their meal for the necessary taste. The lobsters get replaced by Golda chingri or the local prawns in chingri, chorizo and grits. The chingri brain gets used in making the grits, which again is a new one. For the Sunday mutton in lunch obsessed Bengali, there is Sunday chicken or mutton roast .
After all this, with an aim to leave the restaurant on a sweet note, the best is left for the last. Doi (local mishti doi) beaten up in a bowl with imported and local strawberries and berries and a separate decanter with nolen gur to pour over the entire set up makes the parfait. It may sound theatrical with little gimmick but these are well thought out combinations which are an explosion of different flavours.
It’s going to be a long journey but perhaps it is the perfect timing for this in Kolkata, where few glass ceilings are getting broken. Bohemian has been a pioneer in this in Kolkata and my last meeting with Chef Joymalya reminds me that he is possibly going to overhaul the menu by March where it’s going to be a disruptive intervention on the food scene once again.
There are times when you feel greedy and stretch your wishes. I leave these wishes for Auroni which I will like to see being fulfilled in the coming days –
- I haven’t found any significant use of mustard or Kasundi in the menu and if it’s going to be a wholesome amalgamation of local ingredients, then Kasundi can’t be missed out
- We discussed a lot of Grandma Mookherjis kitchen, the pop up which Auroni used to run in Mumbai, might be a special show of that can be organised in The Salt House Kolkata.
- The Japanese Omakese way of surrendering yourself in chef’s hand with an underlying belief “I trust you” where there are no menus in a restaurant but the chef cooks up basis the fresh produce of the day is what I will like to try out with Chef Auroni
Here is wishing all the best to The Salt House Kolkata. It’s definitely a very positive beginning for the year for food in Kolkata