Do you love watching Sachin’s straight drive even after watching Dilshan’s patent scoop shot? For me, the answer would be a loud ‘obviously yes!’. I felt this same thing after I went for a food tasting session at the newly opened branch of Banana Leaf (at Bhawanipur) after trying some fusion south Indian food at another popular South Kolkata joint! Truly speaking, gimmicks and glitters often can’t steal the show in the long run. Banana Leaf is one such joint which believes in simple, traditional and authentic South Indian food that you can never ignore! We all very well know the legendry outlet of Banana Leaf which is near Lake Market area, it is extremely popular and serves great South Indian dishes. Their other outlet is at sector-5 which is also popular among the office goers. Now with their third outlet they made sure they are the only South Indian joint in Kolkata who can boast of having so many outlets across the city. And yes, I absolutely love the fact that they gifted the city dwellers with these holy dining spots, bringing the authentic flavors from Southern fringes of India to the city of joy!
This visit was made on an invitation from the management which I extended to my fellow Panchphoron food bloggers. The Bloggers meet in the end was very interactive and fun with amazing adda over freshly cooked awesome food. When there is great food and like minded people all around things can never go wrong! We had an amazing time and all credit goes to the very humble owner Mr. Rajesh who has always focused on serving great quality food at reasonable price, and has made ‘Banana Leaf’ one great brand today in F&B industry in the city. So, now let’s delve deep into the food talk along with some comments about the property itself.
Location wise, this place is located very close to Bhawanipur Police Station, so beware, you really can’t leave without paying the bill! 🙂 Just kidding! But anyway, jokes apart, that’s the most prominent landmark which you should keep in mind. It’s in the alley alongside the Bijoli Cinemas and the green Banana Leaf board is quite visible from the main road. The restaurant has got a prominent signage but not so gorgeous entry which is in that alley, not on the main road. The eatery has close to 40 seats and is on the 1st floor of the building which houses other small industries and offices. Basically this is more of a residential area, so the restaurant has to adjust to their needs and timings to be more successful.
The ambiance is pretty much like their Saltlake outlet but this one is much better and open since it has a big glass window on one side and smaller windows on other. Sunlight comes in and floods the eatery during the early morning and early afternoon hours which I absolutely loved, I love sunshine and especially during these winter months. The simple tables and chairs exude simplicity and go well with the cuisine being served. The green couches are a good addition and it’s looking great as well with this setting. The walls adorn neatly glass framed photographed south Indian delicacies which Mr.Rajesh had himself clicked sometime back. The place is air conditioned and the simplistic approach in decorating this place somewhat indicated that the focus is mainly on the quality of food, not to add more glitters to the interiors.
Now, let’s come straight to the food we tried:
Mini Idly – Loved all these freshly prepared bouncy soft baby idlis served with a dash of desi ghee. The sambar was asked to be served separately since we wanted to appreciate the cuteness of this baby packages of freshness and subtleness! This gave us a lovely start.
Sada Vada – This was a plate of two traditional urad dal vada with sambar and white chutey. The vadas were hot and crisp outside and steamy, fresh and super soft inside. If you love Vadas, you should try them here, it can’t get any better.
Masala Dosa – I am an ardent fan of Banana Leaf’s Masala Dosa for years now, I used to visit their Lake Market outlet. The reason being the awesome tasting spiced potato masala which goes inside that huge soft dosa. The stuff tastes heavenly, literally.
Mysore Dosa – I never got a chance to taste Mysore Dosa before, and I was informed that this is one of the popular dishes at this joint. The Dosa didn’t have any potato masala filling inside. Instead the inner wall of the dosa was coated with an amazing spicy ‘Mysore masala’ which consisted of a paste of chilly, garlic, coconut and tomatoes. Overall the stuff tasted fantastic even if tried without the sambar or chutney, bit spicy and tangy with that subtle aroma of coconut!
Dhania Dosa – Another marvel from the kitchen of this legendary eatery! Lookwise it looked similar to Mysore Dosa since it also had no potato filling and was served in a triangular shape like Mysore Dosa. But here the color of the dosa was greenish unlike Mysore dosa which was reddish. The Dhania dosa had an inner coating of fresh dhania and pudina paste with some necessary dash of spices. According to me, this is one of the items which must be tried if you are at Banana Leaf.
Uttapam Platter – This was a plate of five mini Uttapams having drastically different five flavors. There were different touches of flavors like tomato, potato, onion, cashew, etc. The one with cashews was very new to me since I never tasted a cashew uttapam before this, the real cashew nuts in there gave that extra rich flavor to that mini uttapam. Others were also flavorful and well accepted by all.
Cheese Onion Rava Dosa – These is the one which looked absolutely different more interesting than a plain rava dosa. Rava dosas are easy to prepare as they do not require the basic fermentation. And as the name indicates, the rava or the semolina dosa was generously covered with layers of cheese and onions here. The stuff tastes so good that we didn’t ever tried the sambar along with it. This dish was one real gem!
Coffee – That’s the fuel I rely upon when I am on a South Indian diet 🙂 My filter coffee has to be well beaten and very very strong! I love the aroma of that bitterness which you get in that strong filter coffee. Here the coffee was strong as per my preference, but I would have loved it even a tad stronger. But I really loved sipping couple of glasses of coffee throughout my stay at this place.
Idiyappam – If anyone of you hasn’t tried Idiyappam till now, you are surely missing out a lot, really a lot, trust me! Even the persons who don’t like eating Idlis, dosas or vadas would definitely love this dish. These are string hoppers consisting of rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed, it forms a sticky noodle cake which you tear, dip in that curry (which comes along with it) and have. The curry is not sambar, it is immensely tasty, thick, and coconutty. And it can contain mutton in there as well, though here it was vegetarian.
Rava Kesari – This is the yellowish orange colored sweet dish or the dessert which we absolutely loved to the last nibble! This is basically sooji halwa which was freshly prepared for us and was very hot when served; it was oozing with rich aroma of ghee and loads of dry fruits! It was not overtly sweet which I really liked. An absolute marvel to end the meal with.
That’s all what we had. Coming to the other pointers now – I loved the service at this place; all the Tamil speaking servers were very prompt and extremely efficient. They had followed every little instruction which was given. I will rate this place real high, since I could not spot a single dish which was not up to the mark. It surely gets 90% positive feedback from my side, and that speaks volume about the awesomeness of this joint, and Banana leaf as a brand, in general. And yes, they are also known for reasonable pricing which is surely one important factor while eating out. Also I feel this Bhawanipur outlet has got much better homely ambiance which I think is another plus point.
So, why are you still here reading this old man’s review? 🙂 It’s time to visit the new den of authentic South Indian cuisine in the posh localities of Bhawanipur, it’s time to treat your tummy and your soul to these freshly prepared awesome dishes! Okay, so are you still there? 🙂