In the last year and a half or two, Kolkata has seen an influx of Microbreweries. This is somewhat a new concept in Kolkata. So much so, that initially there was ambiguity at the Government level in giving licenses and sanctions. Afra Tafri also has a microbrewery which awaits license but it will like to be known as a Transitional Gastropub. The address is 9 Camac Street, which has two of the very well-known office buildings of Kolkata on either side. This place is close to Park Street, which was once the nightlife hub of Kolkata, promises to come up as a pocket once again with some of the pubs and restaurants in the same stretch.
The interiors are nothing short of stunning. The 12000 sq ft area is divided into 3 sections out of which one is a casual smoking zone with beautiful bright couches and some leatherette high stools. Arched wood panelled ceiling, a quirky mural on the wall and large windows which can be opened, overlooking the street is a visual delight. There is a PDR with conferencing facilities, projectors etc where one can have meetings and end with some potent drinks and gastronomic food. The centre area has an interesting DJ console, the bar with high stools and various kinds of seating arrangements. The look and the feel are very colonial Kolkata with a modern outlook. So on to the question of the transitional gastropub, one can move from cafe to a pub, from lunch to dinner at the same place and it caters to people of all the segments.
For the first time in Kolkata, Chef Ranveer Brar, Mixologist Shatbhi Basu and Master Brewer Ishan Grover have come together. One can only wonder what magic they are going to brew with their cocktails and food. Shatbhi has introduced some of her trademark innovations like a Watermelon Mojito and Island Affair which uses both the dark and white rum. Local touch is given with the Phuchka Caprioska which successfully brings the famous tamarind water in the upmarket pub with a zing and Smoked Old Fashioned where she has smoked orange marmalade and pounded cloves to perfection. Thandai with Scotch can only lead to Gondogol – a Bengali word for mess/chaos; this will be held close to heart by the Bengalis. Local influence of Gondhoraj Lebu (the quintessential Bengali flavouring agent) and Nolen Gur will be seen too in the cocktails.
The food menu is quirky and vibrant with a lot of catchy and engaging names, some to the regular food as well. Ranveer Brar has curated the menu and in his usual style, has given a lot of twist to popular dishes. The starter Akkad Bakkad Kukkad is available in 2 formats – Malai Tandoori Chicken or a Fiery Red Tandoori Chicken Tikka, a very common dish but done uncommonly well. Mochar Cutlet (banana flower) comes in a new avatar – Mocha E Ulfat, is a beautifully executed Mocha kabab filled with dry fruits and nuts. The love for Tangra Chinese is evident in Kolkata, hence Tangra Mein Bhangra – a crunchy and crispy chilli chicken smothered with chatpata Chinese sauces, chilies and onions. One can also find other interesting dishes like Biryani which comes in a tiffin carrier, Mushroom Pate in a jar coupled with grilled Bhavnagri chillies and ulta parathas, Manglorean Chicken with Bajre ki roti and many more. Sweet Nachos is a splendid dessert where the dip is white chocolate mousse with caramel sauce on the side and the nachos being brandy snaps.
The necessary excise license to brew beer in the premises was made available in West Bengal only in 2011 - 12. But if rumours are to be believed, then there has been a positive increase in applications for opening new microbreweries in the city and for the food lovers, who love to eat the calories rather than drink them as all these places are focusing on good food. The intention is very clear – khana aur pinaa should be at the same place only. So, at places like these, you can walk in at any time and then let the food and drinks take care of you.
A true blue Kolkata foodie, Anindya loves cooking and eating his Kosha Mangsho. Anindya weaves stories around food as he believes exceptional food is an emotional experience. Previously a restauranter, now a passionate photographer and traveller, he runs a successful blog called Pikturenama and contributes to other publications.