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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Calcutta Cafes

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CALCUTTA CAFES  Oh Calcutta! Addas with Great Tastes

About twenty years back Calcutta boasted of some famous ‘adda’ joints like Coffee Houses on College Street and Central Avenue, Basanta Cabin in Basusree Cinema, Sangu Valley at Bhowanipur, Dhaba at Ballygunge Phari to name a few alongwith a few renowned Tea stalls where people from all walks of life would congregate and spend hours over cups of tea and snacks debating  literally on all topics under the sun. The city earned a name for such ‘adda’ scenario which used to be mostly intellectual in nature. Lyrically depicted in Manna De’s popular rendering of Bengali song ‘ Coffee houser  sei  Adda …’.But over the years this character dwindled with emergence of modern foodscape. Like old wine in new bottle, more costlier versions sprang up – CCD, KFC, McDonalds, Haldiram, Barista to name a few. Returning to Calcutta after many years the one joint that caught my fancy as a foodie and a great admirer of Calcutta ‘adda’ is a café housed in ICCR, opposite US consulate on Ho Chi Minh Sarani (previously Hungerford Street). We discovered this about a year back when we went to ICCR to see a performance of tabla maestro Bikram Ghosh and some other renowned percussionists of India. The café is located on the ground floor, next to the main entrance to ICCR. A glass façade merged with a glass swing door provides a soothing view of the exterior of ICCR. Through the glass one can see the lawn, the pathway, visitors milling around and celebrities and musicians who come there to perform. Interior decoration is simple with properly laid tables and seating arrangement. Some cottage industry handicrafts and artworks are on display in one corner of the space. May be the simplicity in the nitty-gritty of the décor adds to the finer nuances in the ambience. So much so that once inside I feel like spending long hours relaxing and chatting over a cup of refreshing Darjeeling tea and my favourite Cheese sandwich. It is more in the pattern of Flurys on Park Street but  more reasonably priced and offerings of a cornucopia of local flavours such as excellent Ghugni, Mutton Chop, Chicken Cutlet etc.They also offer some continental and Italian delicacies like Pastas as well. I have also tasted their special Pudding which I strongly recommend to all Pudding lovers.

The following pics of the ICCR Cafe were taken by Arundhati Sengupta on her Moto-E smartphone:

Exterior view of the Cafe at ICCR

Inside the Cafe



Seating Area

Chicken Cutlet

Pasta & Beverage

Outside view from inside

Some delicacies of Bengal available at the Cafe

Waiters are efficient and hospitable


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Leaves & Aroma

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Cafe Leaves n Aroma --- Adda with Great Tastes

Not very far from the din,bustle and squabbles of Calcutta lies another Calcutta. A new Calcutta-Kolkata comprising Rajarhat and New Town. A newly developed Park known as Eco Park is located here. We bumped into it recently on our way back from the airport. Built on the concept of providing eco-friendly atmosphere it houses amongst other attractions an exclusive and unique Butterfly Park. Nature lovers can catch a glimpse and observe the behavior of a wide variety of butterflies and moths. Way to the Park saw us at a culinary stopover ‘Leaves n Aroma’, a cute little café seated a few meters from the Eco-Park entrance gate. Run by Ms Mitali Mitra and Ms Sunetra Chaudhury, the inside décor is simple and warm. We were greeted by Mitali, a former journalist. Bubbling with ideas she has effectively all the ingredients in place to create the nostalgic café culture of seventies. A book rack with some very interesting collection is an added attraction for avid readers, like my wife, who would enjoy leafing through pages over a cup of piping hot Darjeeling tea. Being a connoisseur of tea, I always enjoy indulging on prolonged sips if I find it to my satisfaction. And then there is something decadent and sumptuous for everyone’s individual taste and personality – that is what Mitali strives to achieve. However, on the Menu you will find from a savory Aloo Paratha with Tomato Chutney or with curd and pickle, Methi Paratha, Chicken Nuggets, Finger Chips, a wide variety of cakes. And for those who prefer health food in the eco- surrounding there is a tempting choice of oil free finger chips, nuggets and peanut pakodas. One day we have to try out Luchi Sabji / Dal, which they normally serve during breakfast hours. But what satisfied me most is the discovery of yet another new ‘Adda’ joint in Calcutta. Being an ‘AddaBaaz’ and ‘Adda’ lover I always prefer ‘Adda’ in tranquil surroundings, and that’s where ‘Leaves & Aroma’ scores over others.

(Photographs by Arundhati Sengupta)
Leaves n Aroma Cafe

Ms Mitali Mitra runs the show
My wife engrossed over a book

Mama Mia - Mitali's Assistant

Mitali serving tea
Assortment of cakes

A small library inside the cafe

The cafe is a great place for 'Adda' as well

The counter

The tempting Darjeeling Tea

Aloo Paratha

Health food - Oil free finger chips