I have been born ad brought up in Kolkata. Despite being a Marwari, I have had the good fortune of having a lot of friends who happen to belong to the city. For one thing, Calcuttans (pardon me – I prefer ‘Calcutta’ to ‘Kolkata’), LOVE food. I have been privy to some amazing food at Bengali Weddings. (Read: )
I am back home for a week now – before I head for my MBA at IIM Lucknow and had the pleasure of trying out Bengali Cuisine at the 2 places that first strike one’s mind when looking for Bengali food at Kolkata:
- Oh! Calcutta – Managed and run by Specialty Restaurants – the same group that owns Mainland China, Sigree and Machaan
- Kewpies – Owned by Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta
Kewpies was good – In the sense that it was very “traditional.” The decor (look and feel!) of the place is almost like a Bengli house-hold and it reminded me of 6 Ballygunge Place – another popular place for Bengali cuisine – which by the way, has recently opened a branch at Bangalore! Lathe wooden doors, large windows, a high ceiling with old fans which move slow – perhaps it is intentional. Low-seating tables and cutlery made of earthen mud, with a Banana Leaf on top. Oh! Calcutta – on the contrary – has amazing decor, is pleasantly lighted, has great service staff and has some wonderful traditional bengali folklore (soft) playing inthe background.
To the contrary, the ambience at Kewpies was below average – the air-conditioning was not affective, the toilets were a tad unkempt (which, again, could be intentional to give the place a “homely” feel) – but I’d rather not comment.
Kewpies was very average. I was very disappointed with the food. Especially, the “Aam Pora Shorbot” (popularly known as “Aam Panna” in North India) – which we started our meal with – was not well-made, one-sip full in quantity and unfortuantely, set the tone for the near-torture that was about to follow. The “Luchis” (bengali word for “Puri”) were small and wafer-thin as compard to the ones at Oh! Calcutta. The spread on the whole was very average at Kewpies. Not something we had expected from it after the reviews in The Telegraph and elsewhere. I am disappointed – I could have better utilized my time, money and a special afternoon with mom!
THE VERDICT / RECCOMENDATION:
Oh! Calcutta – If you want a nice, memorable introduction to Bengali Cuisine amidst a great ambience and savour a truly professional experience!
Kewpies / 6 Ballygunge Place – If you want absolutely “authentic” Bengali food – the sort that you are likely to get if you gate-crash into a regular “Bangali” household on a normal day – no special cooking. In fact, I remember having tastier food at the homes of some of my Bengali friends!
Bhojohori Manna – For Bengali fast-food – if you want “Bong” food on-the-go and do not have too much time to spare. Bhojohori Manna is almost like a CCD for bengali cuisine!
For those who are wondering if this is intended to be a GUIDE to eateries / restaurants in Kolkata, is is not. This is merely meant to be an attempt at expressing my dissatisfaction over Kewpies and delight over Oh! Calcutta!