For me, food is more than what it seems to be. The culture which is behind that food that helps us to trace back the origin of that dish constantly keeps intriguing me! So, if you know the social background or the culture lying behind a food, you can really go under the skin of a cuisine in no time. Cuisines are always particular to a region or to a place from where it originates, and that in turns traverses across the geographies. The local blend of cooking techniques, preferences, climatic conditions, regional spices, etc that creates a cuisine! And the restaurants that expertise in any particular cuisine are always my favorite ones, I really try to avoid those ‘jack of all trades’ multi cuisine restaurants on any given day. And that is the reason I absolutely love restaurants like Bombay Brasserie! It brings to you the legacy of that typical Bombay culture. It really teleports you to that nostalgic world of old Bombay cuisine which has craftily transformed the authentic local Indian flavors into one amazing urban culinary extravaganza! I love every bit that this place has to offer, starting from their logo to the desserts! The dishes are just true Indian to its core that causes an explosion of flavors when consumed! The quirky presentations and classy preparations always make you crave for more. This is surely your place to be if you are looking for Indian cuisine in a best possible elegant, laid back ambiance.
Few days back I was invited to discover this fabulous bouquet of flavors and aroma at Bombay Brasserie, thanks to the management and First Idea PR for the invitation. The food tasting event was designed to experience the exclusive ‘Canteen Menu’ at this place. My culinary journey started with the sight of those nostalgic tiffin carriers or rather tiffin dabbas. The sight brought back loads of memories and nostalgia, and overall it had an amazing warm feeling that’s unparallel, that’s unadulterated. This was seriously a fresh take on this canteen lunch concept, and to savor this right here at the comfort of this classy restaurant was truly blissful.
The décor of this place is ‘elegant’ in one word. It is well lit, having a white with turquoise glow, spacious and has an excellent glasshouse look. The large dining hall is studded with cage lightings that has an unique antique feel to it. The high ceilings, the classic wooden furniture, marble table tops and comfortable seating makes you feel relaxed in no time. The neatly framed artsy photographs, wall racks filled with old world Indian utensils and vessels give the place its elegant look.
The private dining area has got the same theme, though that part is brighter and is really too beautiful to even describe in words, while on the other end you get a sight of the kitchen with all the magical culinary wizards at work. Also Bombay Brasserie at Quest Mall (5th floor) has got a lovely outdoor seating as well by a country-style white wooden picket fence! Also at the entrance you can find a spice bazaar filled with spices that are very much Bengali to the core. This display is done for the very fact that people love the spices here most!
Now, coming back to this specially crafted ‘Canteen Menu’ for which we were here. First of all, this menu is kinda huge, it is unlimited. And it comes at an unbelievable price. For veg, you need to spend just INR 525 per person whereas INR 575 for non-veg. Isn’t that amazing? As they say, these are the standout dishes from across the country brought to your table in old world dabbas when prepared in no particular order and served ‘canteen style’! This menu is available from Monday to Friday from 12 noon to 3:30 pm.
Here one can enjoy an array of foods from the old Canteens of India and a cultural melting pot of recipes prepared by the team at Bombay Brasserie which will indisputably warm your hearts and appease your taste buds. This is inspired by the scrumptious recipes from the Canteens across the nation. Bombay Brasserie delivers the mouth-watering marinated meats, veggies accompanied by famous local staples and chaats. This weekday special lunch will have a range of handpicked old canteen favorites from the renowned canteens of India like the Film Studio Canteen of Bombay, Bombay City Canteen, Old Madras Street Canteen, Punjab University Canteen, Jimmy’s Canteen, Patil House Canteen, Purani Dill, Ali Tikkawala and many more. So curating this menu and deciding these dishes required loads of research work. The concept here is to bring the signature canteen dishes from all over India to the gourmands of Kolkata without challenging the local food market and that is also the reason why they did not choose to include any of the Kolkata canteen special dishes in this menu.
There were loads of items in that Canteen lunch menu, but I would like to make some special mentions about few dishes which I really liked. So among the starters, there were some fritters which I found to be interesting like the Bawa vegetable cutlet and Aloo Keema Tikki (both from Jimmy’s Canteen)! I absolutely loved the Aloo Keema Tikki since it had my two favorite stuffs as the basic ingredients – potato and minced meat. The taste of that fried mashed potato and minced meat was unparallel, I absolutely loved the pleasant aftertaste that it left behind. Bawa vegetable cutlet (from Jimmy’s Canteen) was apt for any vegetarian with a mashed peas and veggies filling with a deep fried bread crumb covering. Then I loved that Chennai Street Paneer (from Old Madras Canteen) with that spicy tang to it, the paneer was fresh, soft and bouncy that made the dish just perfect! Well, it seems I am loving vegetarian food to a great extent these days!
Then came the Curry Leaf Fish (from Old Madras Canteen) which I really liked for it’s color, taste, and aroma! Yes, the aroma was predominantly of those curry leaves but overall it was nice to savor for that dry onion-based gravy. The Mumbai Vada Pav was surprisingly suitable for my palate since it was not too buttery or tangy with those chutneys, etc from any angle. The subtle flavor of that bread punched with the vada in there somewhat created an unexpected comfort food kinda feel for my moody taste buds! Next, I liked the Chicken Biriyani which was loaded with spices like you get to taste in the Southern parts of India, Kolkatans please don’t expect the flavors of Kolkata Biriyani here, you’ll be disappointed. But I loved the authentic flavors and spices used in this preparation since the final product was appealing from every angle. Next we tried the Parsee dish called Salli Chicken, a dish that’s inspired from the Parsee Salli Chicken, it’s a little spicy, little tangy, with an orangish gravy to go with and yes, the chicken pieces were non-microscopic, succulent and soft (sorry for the poor jokes though)! 🙂 By the way, it went really well with that butter naan.
Then coming to the desserts section, I really liked the Sooji Halwa which was not overtly sweet and was having the lovely fragrance of ghee all over it! The amazing Choco bar was served in a rustic canteen style small plate. And the Trifle Pudding came in next in that typical chaiwala style glasses. This one was divided into layers, like human behavior or character!! The topmost being lovely fruit custard with chopped fruits followed by crushed cake and fruit jelly lying at the bottom (by the way, core of human characters are not always filled with sweet jellies, that’s why life is not like a Trifle Pudding)! 🙂
So, to wrap things up I must say I would rate this place more than 8 out of 10 with brownie points for that classy French bistro kinda feel loaded with Indian elements and artifacts. So seriously guys, if you are in Kolkata and in a mood to savor some great Indian food, then please be at the best possible destination, i.e. Bombay Brasserie at the Quest Mall. I had missed to mention that the role played by the staffs at Bombay Brasserie cannot be missed as well. To liven-up our experience, the restaurant team was dressed in traditional Canteen Wala attires and served the food directly from the Dabbas and Soup in the Cutting Chai Glasses. Please do go there and try out their Canteen Menu, it is about celebrating the food that we all are familiar with and serving it with characteristic warmth that keeps us going back there for more. So, I would really suggest Bombay Brasserie from my end to all my friends and foes; please do enjoy this amazing Canteen Menu!