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April is one of those months when the Bengalis eat their hearts out. It is the Bengali New Year or Poila Boishakh, as well as Guddi Parvah, Uggadi and Puthandu in other parts of the country. The restaurants also want to cash in during this period by offering the best of the Bengali spread, covering all the proteins well cooked in a Bengali’s favourite medium – mustard oil. For this particular day, it does not matter whether it is a five-star premium fine-dining restaurant or a local, small-time 30-seater – everyone will add a Bengali touch to their menu. Some even stretch the festival for a week or 10 days to cash in on the Bengali New Year fever.
6 Ballygunge Place, the Bengali fine-dining restaurant, is taking a different approach altogether. They started with Pat Perey Padda Parey (which essentially means a sumptuous lunch on the banks of the Padma river). This festival will continue till the 24th of March, except on the Bengali New Year. The Bangladeshi menu is an interesting one, and has been carefully curated to provide the perfect balance between the regular À la carte menu (which offers the best of the delicacies from the ‘Indian’ side of Bengal).
ITC Sonar Kolkata is also offering a unique food festival – Metiaburj Dawat. Metiaburuj, a locality in Kolkata, is also known as the second Lucknow where Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Oudh, spent 31 years of his life. Offerings include paneer chaap (thick pieces of cottage cheese marinated with poppy seeds and coconut and cooked over a tawa), chicken chaap, gosht tikka (tawa-fried patties of lamb mince, poppy seeds and spices), gosht Metiaburj biryani and many others. This festival is on from April 16 to 23 and only for dinner.
New restaurant openings are always a fresh lease of life for the city, and all food lovers eagerly await the new ambience and innovative dishes being offered. The Country House, which opened up in Allenby Road, is one such restaurant, and promises a lot to the vegetarians of the city. Worth trying are green apple iced tea (served in an interesting manner in a light bulb), the Chef’s special soup (a creamy thick tangy gazpacho) or the wide range of burgers that they have. A 110-year-old building has been converted into this joint, which helps maintain the old café feel, and the presence of modern art sets the place apart.
Perhaps like life and death, the closing down of a restaurant or a food outlet close to the people of the city is painful. As one of the few hand-picked joints in Kolkata offering classic Italian food and consistently maintaining good quality, Spaghetti Kitchen is a loss that has already begun to be mourned by a lot of people, and why should it not? Winner of a popular award for Best Italian restaurant in the city for five consecutive years, it surely had won many loyalists who will now look forward to another restaurant that will offer Italian food in its authentic spirit.