Showing posts with label Bengali chingri prawns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bengali chingri prawns. Show all posts

CLOSED: The Kolkata Club (Mississauga)

Picture courtesy of Parv
Hement Bhagwani, the restauranteur who created the Amaya chain and Indian Street Food, recently opened a place that’s very different from his last two ventures: The Kolkata Club, a restaurant that’s influenced by the social clubs established during the British Raj period in India. Most clubs were exclusively for British officers and their families; while they would hire Indian citizens to work at the clubs, the workers weren’t allowed to eat in the dining room.
Then in 1907 the Calcutta Club opened, the first social club whose membership policy didn’t restrict based on race. Hence, when Hement started the Mississauga restaurant, he chose to pay homage to the more lenient Calcutta Club. When the British left India, the 'clubs' remained and was returned to the people, despite there still being an element of exclusivity. Today, the affluent are favoured. Luckily, dining at The Kolkata Club, in Mississauga, doesn’t require years on a wait list, a vast family fortune, or an impressive surname.

Kolkata’s menu is inspired by the choices found in India, often reinterpreted for the British palette, with their own twist. It also includes Asian options gleamed from India’s neighbours such as momos, dumplings popular in Tibet cuisine, filled with vegetables ($11.50) or chicken ($13.50). With the chicken ones sold out by 7:45pm, we stuck with the vegetable version. I was worried they’d be bland against the thick chewy dough, but the garlic vegetable medley was flavourful enough and works as a lighter starter. Served with gravy and chili sauce on a sizzling plate, generally found at chop suey restaurants, the momos developed a crispy crust and stayed hot.

Catering to British taste buds does mean dishes don’t incorporate a lot of spice. While my friend warned the Bengali chingri prawns ($18.50) would likely be spicy, the use of green chilis was subdued with the main flavours being the curry and a hit of something tangy. Personally, I would have liked this to be spicier - if only I stopped the waiter from taking away the chili sauce accompanying the momos, it’d be perfect! Yet, if curries could be refreshing, this dish fits the bill.

Luckily, we had an order of pulao ($15.95) and plain naan ($3.25) to soak up every drop of the sauce from the murg methid Dhabe wala ($15.50), which was aromatic, flavourful, and rich without being heavy. The menu describes the dish as being ‘country’ chicken, likely due to it incorporating large pieces of bone-in dark meat. In my books, this is the best cut for braised chicken – the bone adds flavour and keeps the meat moist – and I’ve always been partial to dark meat instead of white.  Needless to say, we finished this dish with gusto.

Picture courtesy of Parv
The chicken curry went well with the forest mushroom, truffle, and morel pulao ($15.95). While I couldn’t taste any truffle or morel, there was plenty of white mushrooms incorporated into the rice and when the bits of fried onion seeped into curry, they added another depth to the sauce.

Picture courtesy of Parv
While dining at The Kolkata Club during their first month operating, the kitchen was dealing with growing pains. Aside from the lack of chicken momos, the British Raj influenced steak roast was also unavailable. Nonetheless, both dishes require prepping ahead of time, hence stock outs are somewhat understandable. However, when the kitchen was too busy to make chai, an after-dinner drink that’s synonymous with Indian cuisine, it was a bit odd. Surely, even if the tea had to be steeped ahead of time and reheated later, it’s better than not serving it at all.
A hot aromatic drink would have gone well with the saffron mango cheesecake ($8.50), a contrast against the cool light dessert with a pronounced tropical mango taste. I did enjoy the generous sprinkling of saffron over top, its umami essence adding an interesting element to the cake.

These surprising twists are even evident in their cocktails. The aam panna mojito ($12.50) is described as the tangiest cocktail on the list. While still sweet, the drink is refreshing from the aam panna (or green mango drink) and well muddled mint. A hit of chaat masala gives the cocktail an almost savoury finish.

The Kolkata Club feels different compared to traditional Indian restaurants. Like the pictured social clubs along the restaurant walls, customers tend to come in larger groups and many dressed to impress. Dinner was a well-paced leisurely affair, lasting well over two hours for the three-course event. In the days where reservations come with two-hour seating limits, this laissez-faire attitude is a welcomed reminder of the good old days.  
Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Mississauga, Canada
 Address: 488 Eglinton Avenue West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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