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Was Bohemian, the Modern fusion restaurant, the first one to experiment with Bengali food to an extent of deconstruction and using quintessential Bengali ingredients for contemporary dishes? It was definitely a trendsetter and although innovative, to an extent, force fit of Bengali ingredients continued, no one else in Kolkata could match up the thought process behind the Bohemian food.
Enter The Salt House, Kolkata. A new entrant with 'Saloni Jhunjhunwala' and 'Prachi Desai', the successful entrepreneur duo of Kaos Gourmet and Chef Auroni Mookherjee, The Salt House Kolkata promises to be just the place which will be a preferred food destination for many.
The Salt House has 3 sections - the dining area is 95 cover with a contemporary look adjacent to the open arena and a wood fire oven which is planning to offer some Neapolitan Pizza in the coming days. The open air with a rooftop garden at the background and Skyline, Kolkata is already popular amongst the fine diners and couples for a romantic date.
It is the restaurant with one of the most interesting menus in recent times offering European dishes with Bengali twist for the guests which guarantee to be a talk of the town in the coming days. If it is the Soup and Salad to start the meal then, check out the Chicken Tortellini in a broth which will definitely remind you of the Kolkata Wanton Soups and Fried Brussels Sprouts with feta and pomegranate salad is a colourful warm salad on your plate which will give the perfect start to an interesting meal. One can also try out the Greek salad or for the local flavour, the Sauteed Kolkata Greens with croutons and capers. The menu has small plates for quick bites, bagels, one meal with Omelettes and the egg dishes. For the classic diners who will go with time, appetite and in a mood to experiment, the mains will leave you with a memory.
The kinds of pasta, bread and sauces are all made in-house. There are common ones like Carbonara, Aglio E Olio, Mac n Cheese but the predicted show stopper will be Mutton and Pork Ragu with handmade Pappardelle. The pasta could not get more silky and smooth while the meaty flavour of the ragu was an absolute killer. Much will be talked about the Beet and Parmesan Risotto or the wonderful amalgamation of flavours in Quinoa, Asparagus and Truffle Risotto. Chef Auroni replaces Salmon with Sea Bhetki and must say, this is a bold step as Kolkata has its preference for freshwater fish. The pan-seared bhetki has all the elements in place and more. Kolkata greens like Kolmi and Pui Saag along with Spinach and the Beurre Blanc served separately so that the perfect balance can be maintained. The skin of bhetki was not crackling crispy but with slight fish fat under and a saltiness, was a new taste altogether. The lobsters get replaced by Golda Chingri or the Local Prawns in chingri, chorizo and grits. The chingri brain gets used in making the grits which again is a new one. For the Sunday mutton in lunch obsessed Bengali, there is Sunday Chicken or Mutton Roast.
After all this, with an aim to leave the restaurant on a sweet note, the best is left for the last. The Doi (local mishti doi) beaten up on a bowl with imported and local strawberries and berries and a separate decanter with Nolen Gur to pour over the entire set up makes the parfait. It may sound theatre and little gimmick but these are well thought out combinations which are an explosion of different flavours.
Using the local ingredients and in particular use of mustard, kasundi, Gondhoraaj lebu, Nolen Gur has been overdone in most of the places but in The Salt House Kolkata, Chef Auroni has nailed it and the icing on the cake is a use of local fishes and greens too. This place has got something for everyone and must be visited once to experience the same.
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.