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No shopping spree is complete without a quick bite. It is a ritual of sorts really, at least for me. For a Kolkata-bred Bong, shopping in Gariahat means chicken cutlets and fish rolls at Campari, a trip to Lake Market should at least pack in some mishit from Sen Mahasaya and a trip to Vardaan market would end with some chaats and chilla from the street vendors right outside. Of course, nowadays there are glitzy malls with their very own food courts and a string of fancy restaurants, but that is not the same. Talking about that mandatory bite when out shopping, here are three lifestyle stores in Kolkata that pack in some fantastic food along with retail therapy.
Byloom – A beautiful store in Hindustan Park that stocks a fantastic collection of designer handloom fabrics and handcrafted accessories, Byloom enjoys a cult-following of sorts in the city. However, for some, it is not just the gorgeous sarees and jewellery that lure them to Byloom – there is fish fry too. Yes, the no-frills café inside the store serves up a range of typical Kolkata-style Jal Khabar. The Canteen @ Byloom (that is what it is called) turns out a few fantastic crumb-fried favourites such as fowl cutlets and mangshor chop (minced meat croquettes) and a sweet and spicy kasha mangsho served with pillowy luchi. For dessert, try their caramel custard or nolen gurer ice cream. When the weather is good, grab a table in the al fresco seating area at the back – the perfect setting for cha, a couple of chicken sandwiches and adda.
Sienna Store and Café – This is the retail brand of Confetti, a Shantiniketan-based ceramic workshop, run by a mother-daughter duo. The store, also in Hindustan Park, is a beautifully done outfit with a fantastic selection of ceramics and handloom textiles on offer. But that is not it. The store’s 20-seater café is as much a rage among its fans. The spread, unique, is quintessentially comfort food, mostly snacks to go with a range of hot and cold beverages on offer. They bake their own breads and the condiments are all home-made, so expect fresh, hearty food. Take your pick from crisp fried prawns served with papaya salad or walnut-studded cream cheese crostini. A fantastic number to pair with your cuppa is the cheese-stuffed baby eggplant poppers, or opt for a simple pesto, tomato and mozzarella sandwich, grilled to perfection. The dessert section here is especially tempting. Think moist cakes, almond financiers and madeleines served with ice cream.
Bohurupi – Bohurupi is a small store in Tollygunge selling a quirky collection of paper crafts, ceramics, accessories, funky notepads as well as some clothes and fabrics, mostly sourced from workshops in Shantiniketan. Once you are done picking up a few trinkets or that accent piece for the living room, walk into The Chaiwala, the adjoining café for smoked pork and bacon sandwiches and coffee, or a few of their signature Grilled Cakes topped with honey jam or Nutella. The menu also packs in a range of stuffed omelettes, salads, soups and robust, meaty burgers, along with a selection of specialty teas that come with a complimentary refill.