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The word was around for some time that Afraa - one of the most popular gastropubs in Salt Lake, is reopening. This 2 storied gastropub, with the 150 covers in the lounge on the 6th floor and 98 covers fine dining on the 7th floor, has come back in a new avatar and is going to win the hearts of people in the city.
If anyone has gone to Afraa before, brace yourself for surprises. Some of the open air spaces at the Afraa lounge, the pub has got changed into large seating areas with sunshine air conditioning box. The PDRs have been removed to make more meaningful cosy corners around the place which can host small to large groups. The lounge has a contemporary young look while the restaurant is with rich woodwork, wooden chairs, wall paintings, ornate mellow chandeliers which pairs up well with the eclectic food served here.
Renowned 'Chef Abhijit Saha', who needs no introduction, is at the helm of affairs at Afraa and as a fan and pursuer of sustainable dining, the menu and food served here also focuses on health and well being of the guests. Local ingredients and artisanal produce' from the Mediterranean region forms the highlight. The parmesan cheese and parma ham are imported but again, there is a serving of Burrata cheese which is procured from Bangalore. As an ongoing process, he plans to introduce more and more organic produces including organic chicken and mutton. As Mediterranean cuisine has a vast catchment area, Mediterranean Europe like South of France, Spain, Italy, Greece, then Mediterranean west Asia which includes Turkey and Lebanon, Mediterranean African countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt etc, have found some of their dishes into this menu. Chef has tried to inculcate the best and favourites of all these places in the menu. There are choice of hot and cold, almost half a dozen mezzes, salads, grills from Turkey, Lebanon infused with spices like sumac, all spice, zattar, dukkah, special garlic sauce called toum (garlic aioli without eggs) and harissa. You will find 3 kinds of pastas here. The dry or the secco ones, hand-made fresh pastas as well as gluten free secco pastas. There is a regular risotto as well as chef Saha's special creation of Millet and Black Rice Risotto. In the mains, there are enough options for fish and prawn and Kolkata Bhekti is the main and only protagonist here. The lounge menu also gets exciting with some of Chef Saha's signature cocktails being introduced and some Indian and Oriental dishes too. This is an elaborate menu and as Chef said, definitely Kolkata is going to get spoilt with choices.
When asked, like a class teacher who loves all the students in a class, Chef Saha did not name any dish in particular but here are our recommendations -
These are some of his signature creations and if one has to take a pick, then it has to be Cauliflower Espuma which had a generous amount of truffle oil on Cauliflower foam with black olive soil, garlic crumbs and citrus pudding at the bottom to cut through all the creaminess.
Signature Burrata Salad
An ideal melange of 2 Mediterranean countries where Burrata is from Italy and Beetroot Labneh - a traditional dip from the middle east. A refreshing dish where popped amaranth gave the necessary texture and a hint of bitterness to this rather fascinating creation.
Mediterranean Non Veg Kebab Platter
This is a wonderful amalgamation of 3 types of kebabs. There is Chicken Jujeh Kebab, Lamb Adana Kebab and Turkish Fish Kebab. Soft, tender and perfectly seasoned and spiced kebabs are pure and unadulterated in taste.
Chef Abhijit Saha Signature Pomegranate Chicken
Pomegranate Chicken with Arugula Sauce
A clear show stopped, this dish comes with 3 pieces of Chicken Roulade stuffed with minced chicken and walnut crumbs drizzled generously with a sauce made with pomegranate reduction and a hint of dark chocolate. The centre of the dish is crowned with soft leeks and baby potatoes. The pomegranate and the dark chocolate were a beautiful duet of flavours.
This is one of the best creations of Chef Saha and a take on Philadelphia Cheese Cake.
The gondhoraj itself is the cheese cake with a lemon curd centre and the yellow of the gondhoraj comes from a lemon glaze. Scattered around are the various elements of a biscuit crumbles, a thin crispy chocolate wafer, walnuts and apricots stuffed with mascarpone. It is beautiful to look at and when you taste this dish in its entirety, it will lift you up spiritually.
Neapolitan Style Roast Chicken Pizza
The list can be endless but you cannot afford to miss these 2 also - Roast Chicken and Mushroom Tortellini and Smoked BBQ Chicken Pizza.
Timings: Afraa Lounge - 04:00 PM to 02:00 AM
Afraa Restaurant - 12 noon to 03:00 PM and 07:00 PM to midnight
Cost for 2: Rs 1600++
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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.