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Is it Chinese? No.
Is it Mughlai? No.
Do you get kosha mangsho? No.
The top three criteria to make a restaurant successful in Kolkata do not get ticks at this restaurant, yet Bodega Cantina Y Bar opens with a lot of promise. With a different look to any other restaurant in the city, one cannot miss the traditional yellow taxi of Kolkata drawn as graffiti on the walls of the ground floor where the red container sheet doubles as a wall. The ground floor is the bar with a fun and groovy setting, whereas the first floor welcomes you with an innovatively designed staircase, old-school large windows and small collectibles from all across the world. Spread across 2,700 square feet, this place has got all it needs to hold the attention of its guests when it comes to the décor.
They say they want to make it a cool destination, and if we consider the interiors as an appetiser that allows you to look forward to the main course, then the food over here is something to drool for. Kolkata has needed a place like this for a long time; the food (from the curated menu to the cooking to the plating) has taken the restaurant to a new level. They serve relatively small portions for Kolkata standards.
The drinks are nothing short of a bombardment of spirit and flavour. Their signature cocktails are presented in quirky and cool glasses, from skull glasses to pineapple-shaped ones; they are fun, yet there is a depth to the drinks. They have something called the Bengali Mary, for heaven’s sake! But it is nothing short of intriguing and gorgeous, made with kokum, kasundi, a secret masala and chilli. The Dia de los Meurtos (or commonly known as the ‘day of the dead’) is hibiscus tequila, orange, grenadine and made-to-order pineapple juice.
The food is equally captivating and encourages an intuitive thought process. It is all presented in tapas portions in small ceramic tapas plates, something Kolkata will have to get used to. However, the flavours are beautiful and every dish is simple yet shows a lot of finesse. The menu is from all over the world, from Spanish to Greek to Italian to Chinese to South East Asian to Indian food. The ingredients used are locally procured and the spices and the sauces are all home pounded and mixed or home-made. The flavours used are clever in certain ways, but are true to the heart.
The restaurant claims to change the menu every three months with the change in seasonal produce, bringing in more freshness to the food. Some of the dishes (such as fish kataifi, which is fish with lemon grass, bird’s eye chilli in Greek pastry with some sweet chilli sauce and chickpea chorizo) are explosions in the mouth with their subtle yet bold flavours. The lal maas tacos or the beef chilli fry make bold statements in petit portions. Potato tornados, pickled chilli prawns, patatas bravas, pot stickers, baos, lamb tagine, nasi goring – all interesting names with intriguing tastes. Variety is what one will get here.
The desserts are to die for. There is the Bodega bomba – a white chocolate sphere painted with raspberry sauce and with a lot going on inside the sphere – and also the Bodega rocher, which is their take on the Ferrero Rocher served with Nutella drizzle, to name a few.
By opening in Kolkata, Bodega Cantina Y Bar has disrupted the foodscape of the city and has given people food for thought. Let us hope the city accepts this change, and that there are many more such differentiating food joints plating up in the city.
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.