A young couple, Abhishek and Kritika Dutt, restored the ground floor of an old bungalow in a posh Ballygunge neighborhood, to build a quaint café dedicated to serving unpretentious, old-fashioned food, close to their heart, breaking away from the current trend of menus with fancy names and little substance. They have christened it SOUL, and it comes with a tagline Food Fitness Fun.
The setting is simple but lively with spread-out seating, smart wooden furniture and quirky textured walls. Two disco mirrors (basically large mirrors with multicoloured light bulbs set into the frame) perk up the interiors, and are perfect for clicking selfies. The best tables are laid out in the glass-walls enclosed verandah overlooking a verdant patch outside. Once the monsoon passes, the al-fresco dining area would be open to guests. Come winters, these are the tables everyone is likely to eye.
An all day diner, SOUL comes with an elaborate menu curated by Kritika, which packs in a range of classic global comfort dishes – from Scottish eggs (boiled eggs in a minced sausage casing, crumb fried) and shepherd’s pie to good old prawn cocktail and spaghetti and meatballs. While these are essentially dishes good for your soul, the menu is also studded with healthy, nutrition packed numbers such as a protein packed pudding made with bananas, dates and raw cacao, gluten-free oats packed with fresh fruits, nuts and muesli, and a power-packed breakfast bowl of crunchy seasonal fruits topped with Greek yoghurt, walnuts and almonds and a generous drizzle of honey. Plus, there is a range of classic salads such as Waldorf salad loaded with crunchy apples and a refreshing watermelon and feta salad as also salads packed with meats or prawns.
What sets SOUL apart is that a section of the café has been dedicated to ‘fitness’. The large, brightly lit room with mirrored walls complete with an adjoining shower room is all set to host fitness routines such as Pilates, Power Yoga, Zumba and Bokwa dance conducted by some of the best known fitness instructors in the city. For a further boost to your fitness routine, the menu packs in a range of detox drinks trumped with inputs from a certified nutritionist based in Mumbai, each one with a specific health benefit.
Take for instance, the morning protein blend, a mix of whey protein made in-house, maple syrup and crushed coffee beans, which is a fantastic pick, to grab and go on your way to the gym. The fat flush, on the other hand is a concoction of pineapple, orange and lime juice that promises to flush out fat after a greasy meal (which means you could dig into that chicken ála kiev they serve, stuffed with all that butter that gushes out as you dig your fork into it, without care), while a concoction of mixed berries and chia seeds promises to act as an anti-ageing agent. For those looking to lose weight, the Dutts import – a secret ingredient from South East Asia to trump up a drink that will help you burn fat. The detox drinks come smartly packaged that are good to take home, but they come with a limited shelf life. You are encouraged to take these in a package, so you can consume them a stipulated number of times a day for maximum results.
In other words, here is a café that lets you feed your soul, while taking care of your body!
An independent journalist based out of Calcutta and a dedicated food enthusiast, she writes mostly about food and travel, and has worked and written for publications India Today, The Telegraph, Live Mint as also Lonely Planet India’s website. She also loves to experiment in her kitchen and runs a food blog – allthatsdelicious.com. But mostly she eats, frets about how much she eats and then eats some more.