There are eating joints which get hooked onto your memory even if you are not very conscious about that fact. I never realized (until last Saturday) that somehow or the other Red Xpress (located at Sector-V, Saltlake) has got a little special place in my head (or heart, maybe) for some not-so-well-defined reasons stitched to my sub-conscious mind. This place in basically in my ‘office para’, that is the techie alleys of Kolkata where I have already spent one third of my life! Red Xpress was previously known as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and was one of the oldest family restaurants in this part of the city. So, last Saturday when I walked into this place loads of mixed memories came rushing back, though this place now looks very different with loads of improvisations and improvements still going on. In all these years many eateries have opened up in the locality and many have closed down, but there are only a few like Red Xpress that has stood the test of time. This is still one of the best family restaurants in Saltlake Sector-V area that can boast of warm hospitality, homely atmosphere and some really good food.
I was there for a ‘Calcutta Food Scenes’ event arranged by my friend Jude Martin where the Red Xpress management has invited us for a meet-up over food tasting session. As already said, they have recently done loads of renovation and modifications to their overall outlook, target customer base and food/beverages menu. Truly speaking, I felt they have taken the right decision by focusing on the family customers and not trying to make it a gastro-pub kind of a thing. Though you will find a DJ console and you will find the DJ on Saturday nights but that has been kept solely for family parties and other special occasions. This place has not got a neat, classy ambiance with a touch of old world charm to it. It is spacious with good amount of seating capacity; the dimly lit atmosphere so resembles the 90’s Park Street eateries and successfully made me super nostalgic! There is a well stocked bar as well, so Saturday nights won’t be dull either at this place 🙂
Coming to the food and beverages, we tried few mocktails and cocktails first which were mostly pretty good.
I quite liked the mocktail called Deep Sea that had the concoction of mint syrup, pineapple juice and Sprite, this was surely the best looking drink with a lovely sea green hue. Beijing Blue came up next which was more like a blue lagoon and was okayish according to me.
Among the cocktails, I absolutely loved the Mojito which had the right concoction of mint leaves, lemon juice, white rum and sugar syrup. Also you can’t really ignore the Cosmopoitan if you are accompanied by a lady, this drink gets served in a martini glass and has the perfect combination of vodka, orange liquor, lime juice and cranberry juice.
Coming to the food, we tried couple of Indian dishes and few Chinese dishes. I already knew that Chinese cuisine has always been a plus point of this place. But I love their North Indian dishes as well. And me being a person, who runs away from North Indian food for that soggy and oily affair, loved the North Indian preparations out here at Red Xpress! That only speaks volume about how good the food was.
Firstly we tried few starters, which included Chicken Lollypop, Pan Fried Chilly Fish and Veg Spring Rolls. I loved the chicken lollypop since the crunchy batter fried coating had some juicy chicken inside that absolutely impressed me to the core. The Chilly fish was tossed with oyster sauce, vinegar along with finely minced garlic, bell peppers and onions. It was pretty flavorful and can be served as a nice pub grub. The Veg spring rolls were pretty subtle to taste and had a generous filling which I really loved, but if you are looking for some strong flavors in this, you might be disappointed.
Coming to the main course items, we tried Hari Mirch Naan, Pudina Lachha Paratha, Veg Diwani Handi, Murg Malai Darbari and American chop suey (chicken). The Indian main course dishes were absolutely non-oily which made me interested in them. Even the paratha was non-soggy. The Hari mirch naan had a generous sprinkle of chopped green chilies on it and it is absolutely fabulous for someone who can stand a bit of heat. Pudina Lachha paratha was quite big and can serve two easily, it was soft and flavorful.
The Veg side had loads of chopped veggies in it with dry thick gravy that gave it a consistent texture which was very tasty in the end. Murg malai darbari had a white creamy gravy, not at all spicy with juicy chicken pieces and tasted absolutely brilliant. The American chop suey was as expected, pretty flavorful with those shredded chicken and quite filling in the end. We ended the meal on a sweet note; the vanilla ice cream with darsaan was pretty good and highly recommended.
And as I have said, service is always the biggest plus of this joint. The servers are extremely warm and friendly which you won’t find everywhere. They even go beyond their duty and try to serve complementary dessert or dishes to college kids just to see them smile! I mean, I don’t know any place in the vicinity which does this. That’s something which should be applauded. Kudos to the management for serving warmth, kindness and friendship with every dish.
Overall I would say there is an inimitable touch of honesty all over this place, that doesn’t believe in gimmicks, that doesn’t fake. For me, I will keep coming back to this place whenever I will long for this honest touch and warmth. I am happy to see that this place is coming back in a big way and bringing back that charm which was much needed. And of course this is still a favorite hang-out joint for many office goers and some engineering and management students from the nearby institutes. This place has still a lot to offer and a lot to share; I will give them more opportunities to give me more such sweet memories. A big thumbs up from my side.