Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Buffet Dinner at Eden Pavilion

Last evening I ended up going for dinner to the Eden Pavilion. A slight miscalculation and the original plan of going to the bar "West View" got washed out, but the saving grace was that I liked the coffee shop too.

We decided to start with the salads and I think I tried nearly every one of them on the spread. After that some continental meats did me in. Ofcourse all the while I was knocking back pints of Kingfisher.

Once done we attacked the dessert section. I gave that a pass, but was really impressed with the huge Chocolate Sculptures. I enquired and was told that they were solid chocolate and even the staff there din't have any idea what would become of them at the end of the night.

All the while that we were having dinner, there was a constant flow of people walking up and down the aisle and busy hotel staff moving up and down. Well all this action was due to the famous AC Bayern team that was staying at the hotel and had just got back from their match at Salt Lake stadium where they took the pants off their opponents Mohun Bagan.

The iconic Oliver Kahn handled the ball, all of three times in the entire match. I saw him walk past in a black suit with a long trail of people behind. Other players and officials in uniform were a constant sight throughout.

On the way out after dinner, I realised Kolkata is mad about sport. IPL ho ya Football.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cycling, Finally!

I finally went cycling on Sunday at about noon. The sky was overcast and with the sun hidden behind the cloud cover, it was a perfect opportunity to head out and explore the neighbourhood on my cycle. Yes the Firefox Tempest that I had bought a while back and hardly used till date.

So I came out of my colony gate and turned left to the canal that ran behind the complex. I had to ride up a steep levee which also served as a narrow back lane. It ran parallel to the canal similar to the one on the other side of the canal. There were small bridges that connected both sides, some just wide enough for a motorcycle to pass over.

So while I was riding along the canal road, I noticed a large gathering of people and once I reached where they were standing, I noticed that they had all gathered to watch the dredging work that had been on for a while now. There were mounds of clay on either side of the canal and more on our side. So I stopped and got my handy Nokia 6630 out and clicked away at the odd dredging machine in operation. Basically it was an excavator with caterpillar tracks that had been locked in on a square metal barge like platform which was able to float on the canal water. The excavator arm would plunge into the water and sink its teeth into the bottom and pull itself forward, if it needed to move. Once in place, there were two extractable poles on each side which would be driven into the bottom to keep the barge stable and in place for the excavator to go to work, digging out buckets full of silt from the canal bed.

Anyway after watching the operation I headed on and went further down past the back of the Highland Park complex and over a small bridge. I was being adventurous and going deeper into the interiors through the narrow road of what seemed to be more like a little village and lo I came upon railway tracks. I looked back and saw the sign. I had come along side the Baghajatin railway station. This was on of the Suburban Railway lines and I had heard of Baghajatin several times, but never realised that lived so close to this place. I turned back from here and cycled through some more of the village in a different direction and came upon the Main road where the Highland Park Metropolitan Mall was. From there it was a straight ride back home.

I was so kicked with myself that after lunch and a little rest, I headed out again. This time I decided to go in the opposite direction. The little lanes of Santoshpur are a treasure trove of “pukurs” (ponds) and there were people enjoying a swim nearly every pond that I came upon. To tell you the truth I was so tempted to jump in myself. Maybe on a some other day, I’ll go a bit better prepared for a dip in one of them.

Work Hard, Party Harder

Yesterday I had to go into work and gallivant about town to get a whole lot of stuff done. Anyway in the midst of that while driving through the middle of the city I came upon the famed HIND Cinema. The building was under renovation or then it’s quite possible that it’s being torn down and we could get another multiplex or shopping mall there. After crossing the Hind Cinema I came upon the famed Wellington Square and had to drive through some wining roads to get back to Park Street. These one way streets are quite painful if you are in a hurry to get from one place to another. On wrong turn and you could go dizzy trying to get back on track to get to your destination?

Anyway the end of the day warranted some hardcore partying and so we headed out to Some Place Else. I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t get valet parking for the first time. So I managed to maneuver into a tight parking spot right outside the hotel on the opposite side of the road. Once we strolled in we realised the cause for such a multitude of people. People had thronged to The Park to catch a glimpse of The Kings XI Punjab Cricket team. They were staying at the Park and were scheduled to make an appearance at Tantra. Ness and Priety were there too, not that I saw them, but one of my friends said I was blind because Ness walked right past me, while I was engaged in conversation with my friend Q in the lobby.

Anyway I entered Some Place Else to the familiar sound of the whining Guitar. Jayanta was swinging with the Saturday Night Blues band and as the night unfolded, they also had a special guest all the way from Australia who came up and did a superb rendition of “Mustang Sally”. Her name was Dianne and she got the crowd swinging. Later on The Band also dedicated a song to one of the Bartenders “Rakesh” for the splendid job he was doing night after night.

The band played on till 1.30 am and then we left and decided to pop into ROXY. We met up with some more friends there and were witness to some eye-popping, mind blowing and shocking moves by a young lady on the dance floor. We called it a night immediately and headed back home.

Smoking Break

A couple of days ago I was on my way to FORUM and came upon this sight. I wouldn’t really care about such stuff otherwise because every one is entitled to a break, but this cop just made me lower the window and use my phone camera to click a couple of pictures while he enjoyed his smoke. Well it was like peak hour traffic at 5.30 pm in the evening and the busiest intersection of Minto Park with the lights not working. In the midst of the melee was a lone policeman with a walkie-talkie trying to manage the chaos. Our friend was at the side of the road with his helmet planted on the railing and standing stylishly watching the lone cop while puffing away. So while I indulged in the photographs a couple of other motorists were quite amused with what I was doing, knowing fully well that these pictures were bound to get circulated or published somewhere.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pubbing, Chinese Delight & Gelato

I get the feeling that I should become a culinary expert. Better still, maybe a TV host on a dining out show. Anyway that said, the eating out continues. I met a good buddy of mine on Thursday night at The Stadel. Like I said a revisit was on the cards and what better opportunity to go there but on a nice stormy evening. Surprisingly the storm had hit Delhi too as we watched repeat telecasts over beer on the big screen at HEKA because rain had dashed all hopes of The Kolkata Knight Riders getting a berth in the Semi Finals of the DLF IPL T20.

More about this little pub tucked away in a small corner of the Salt Lake Stadium. While I waited for my friend to arrive, I decided to order a beer and some pepper chicken to go. I was hungry as hell having skipped lunch due to the pile of work on my head. The Chilled beer arrived in the nick of time as my friend had arrived and taken a seat. Two mugs and the first beer went down in now time, not to mention the chicken which had come with it. We ordered some more beer and crispy fried potatoes.

Shortly the DJ also walked in and since there was no match on, the music was welcome. As the beers went down the music got louder and we kind of wrapped up after several beers just when the music was loud enough that we were inaudible to each other. I guess the place makes for a good pit stop for an early evening out.

I also had to make a visit to the men’s room and was quite taken up with the names of the places. Like the Men’s room was called “Third Man”, the women’s “Maiden”, the restaurant “First Innings” and the Banquet Hall was called “Second Innings”.

That was Thursday. Friday was a whole different affair all together. We ended up going to this place I didn’t even know even existed, called “EAU CHEW RESTAURANT”. On the first floor of a dilapidated old building on Ganesh Chandra Avenue, you had to climb up the steep winding stairs after entering the premises through a HP Petrol Pump.

The whole deal being that I just had to try the Chimney Soup here. Well we entered what seemed to be a Chinese version of a Dhaba, but thank god there was air-conditioning. Anyway once we were seated there was only one thing that everyone wanted; Chimney Soup! Ok there were various options single, half and full. We went for a full. There were 5 of us. The boy taking our order was trying to convince us that a half usually fed between 6-8 people. But we insisted on getting a full. So a Full it was.

While he got us that, we decided on the rest of the food. One Veg. Haka Noodles, One Mixed Fried Rice, one Schezwan Fish and one Fried Chicken I think it was.

When the Chimney Soup arrived I was delighted to see the manner in which the served it. It came in a strange copper bowl which was seated on a wrought iron “chlulha” with the chimney going through the centre of the Copper Soup Vessel. The soup was delicious with pieces of various meats and fish and lots of green veggies. Several eggs had been broken into to the hot soup and the white stuff was the egg. I guess this is the Chinese Version of our Indian Tandoori food. Ok its soup, but one that you’ll relish. Then again for those of you looking for spicy stuff, this might not arouse your palette.

The rest of the food was quite the normal type that you can expect in Tangra.

OK after all that food even the lad serving us was in shock when he cleared the plates after we were done. The table looked like a battle field. Like Normandy maybe after the Allied Forces had run over the beaches. So while were driving back someone mentioned Ice Cream. In fact after the meal when someone had mentioned sweet dish we all retorted that after so much food the thought was repelling.

Anyway as we were approaching home, Ice cream came up again and we ended up going there for the one person who wanted Ice Cream. Mama Mia was still open in New Alipore and I had to get off first. So once off the car, I casually walked into the Gelato parlour. Oh that smell and those colourful creamy gelatos just beckoned out to me. So after tasting several flavours I ended up having a scoop of Blueberry in a Waffle cone. I did think of another and was snapped at for the mere thought considering that I was the one most opposed to having anything after stuffing myself with all that food.

Anyway I just loved my Blueberry gelato and had a go at a bit of everyone else’s too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lovely Weather for us but Bad For Business

The Recent spate of “Norwesters” has been great. It has sent the mercury plunging every second day. While it’s helped people like me who are still waiting for their Air-conditioning at home to be installed, its not been to keenly welcomes by the Kolkata Knight Riders who lost their Match to the Chennai Super Kings all due to rain playing spoil sport. But I wouldn’t attribute it so much to the weather as I would to these two guys Duckworth and Lewis. I’m not even sure if they are two people or they are people at all. Ok before I get swayed back to the lovely weather that’s kicking up dust every evening even if the rain isn’t coming down too strong.

Strong winds have been the precursors to the impending storm ahead. The winds have caused so much damage in the past two weeks that while trees are being uprooted and dust covering everything, the worst affected seem to be the Outdoor Media Owners. Shredded Flexes on huge structures seems to have become a common sight and more recently felled structures themselves have cleared up the Kolkata Skyline.

Finger Lickin Good Biryani

A couple of days ago I had a not so customary outing and needed to be out on the streets of Kolkata practically the entire day. Fortunately it was in an Air-conditioned car (I think I’ve become a spoilt brat). Anyway all that roaming around needed some fuel and we decided to make a lunch stop at Arsalan at the Park Circus 7 Point Crossing. I wasn’t too keen on Arsalan as I had a preconceived blind block towards their Biryani based on one visit there over a year and a half ago. Well that time it was late in the night after a serious session of drinking. So I didn’t really think their Biryani was that great?

Good for me that I was outnumbered in choice and out of time really, so we ended up going to Arsalan. Two Mutton Biryanis, One Chicken Biryani, two Mutton Rizalas and 3 cold drinks were ordered. The food came to us in a jiffy. Wow that was some helping of Biryani. The plate was nearly overflowing at the edges. The chicken in the biryani and the potato were also tasty. The Rizala sealed the deal and after I washed it all down with a Pepsi, Arsalan is back on my list of places to eat out at.

(I’m not adding the fact that I was stuffed and that in typical Bengali style after a meal such as this, “Ghoom” (nap) would be lovely but I had the entire second half of the day and work at hand ahead of me.)

Dinner At One Step Up

A couple of days ago we went for dinner to One Step Up. I particularly like the continental food there. The Pastas are excellent, both in quantity and in taste. Add to that really chilled Kingfisher beer and its always a pleasant experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekend of Culinary Delights

Last week culminated in indulgence of food, food and more food. Did I mention Food?

Yes it started some time midweek when I went to City Centre. The first time around early in the week I was a bit disappointed by the long queue outside KFC and had to go back home and have home cooked food. Not that I’m complaining! But when you’re so close to KFC and have the urge, you do want to indulge in some of those sumptuous fried monster pieces of chicken.

Not to be disappointed again, I made an unscheduled (read: well planned) stop at city centre on Thursday and voila! No queue. I ordered a Zinger meal with chicken and extra large fries with Coke and a Snacker to go with it. The service and meal quality left much to be desired, but KFC after so long. Yum! Yum!

I just get the feeling that the establishment has got a bit complacent owing to the fact that they are always packed that they have forgotten the basics. So here’s hoping that they don’t drive themselves to the point that they shut down due to driving away quality conscious customers.

Follow this up with Friday night at Tangra. I had finished work and with nothing better to do, decided to head to cheap drinking place called Big Boss in Tangra (China Town). Big Boss is the Mecca of most office goers for serious drinking. Add to that some great Chinese snacks and you could be there all night. Fortunately for me, we got there at about 6 pm because my friend had 9.50 pm flight back to Delhi. So beer started flowing and to go with that we ordered one of my favourite and quite unique and common in Kolkata starters: Prawn Chips. The white large flat fried chips with the red border goes great with Beer or for that matter any alcohol.

As we knocked back beers, I in my jubilance offered to drop him to the airport. Drinking time got extended by half an hour and Chilli Chicken and some other stuff followed while we knocked back several more beers each till the time had come to leave.

At 8 pm when we were leaving I noticed that my car was parked in what was a double level parking. While I was parking my car, I wondered what the top level was. The drinking seemed to have enlightened me a bit.

So while we were going to the airport I made a pit stop to pick up my wife and dropped my friend to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Airport. On the way back we realised it was a Friday night and it was only 9 pm. So home was definitely not on the cards. Some Place Else would also have to wait till Saturday. So what would we do?

“The Stadel” was suggested. I had never been there and had heard so much about the place over the past month and half that I jumped at the idea. A few phone calls later, we had a plan. We were meeting up with a couple of friends at The Stadel. It’s an amazing drive in to The Stadel; lined on both sides with roman type columns and creepers and the Colossal Salt Lake stadium facing you. The Stadel is located in the southern wing of the majestic Salt Lake Stadium. This 18 room hotel is little known to most people, but the bar called “HEKA” is frequented by most of the BPO crowd and a lot of residents of Salt Lake. An Egyptian theme is the setting and the place has a female DJ to add to that. But the killer is that it offers very cheap booze.

So the drinking continued and at the end of the night they had to throw the four of us out of there as we had gone way past their regular hours. And all the beer drinking and snacks for only Rs. 1400/-. The Stadel, “I’ll be back”.

Sunday Morning couldn’t laze in bed coz I had made up my mind that I would catch that jazz performance at Afraa. Woody Jarrod had performed there on Friday night, but because of my busy schedule I couldn’t catch his performance then. Fortunately he was playing there on Sunday and Afraa had put together a Sunday Buffet with live Jazz Music. I wasn’t going to miss this one. Priced at Rs. 575/- per person and with a huge spread and beer to go, we were there first to arrive at about noon. Draught Beer to start with and then a look at the huge spread that had been laid out exquisitely made my mouth water and stomach rumble. Just looking at the way the buffet had been laid out was a treat for my eyes.

The food apart the musician took a little longer than I anticipated getting on with his gig. But when he did, I was enthralled by his performance. He oscillated between the saxophone and his flute. I think he even used a pan flute at times. His accompaniment was a laptop computer with a mini mixer which was streamed into the speaker system of the restaurant. Jazz was the mainstay of the late afternoon but he did delve into some different sounds which were evidence of his residing in the subcontinent for an extended period of time. There were influences of Indian classical and folk sounds in his routine.

Among some of the esteemed guests enjoying the Sunday afternoon was Mr. Ram Ray on the table next to us. I definitely wouldn’t miss a gig like this if it were put together at Afraa again.

By the time we were done with dinner, I was wary of the impending dinner we had been invited to. Mother’s Day or any other day these days have been made excuses to go out and celebrate. Well done Archies and Hallmark for earmarking such days almost 365 days of the year to make your cash registers ring. Anyway we were invited by my in-laws to go out for Mothers Day dinner.

So after resting for what seemed to be the shortest break between two meals, we set out again. South City Mall was the destination where we had plans to try out the new Mainland China outlet. Wishful thinking on a Sunday evening, but we still went ahead and landed on the top floor of the packed mall to try our luck. We got there at about 9.20 pm and were told that there would be a 90 minute wait. 90 minutes? Ok I was game considering the amount I had eaten that afternoon at Afraa, but unanimous decision taken, we headed out to Comics.

The food was its usual best at Comics with orders of Lamb and Chicken steaks et al. If you want to try something really good there try their mocktails.

Finally they launch

After months of waiting and getting their act together, the Malaysian backed Telecom player with a sizable presence in the south and the east of India, consolidates its foothold in the Eastern region by launching its service in the capital of the east, Kolkata. With media support from group owned Red Fm, they make a splash with the forte of telecom operators, Out-of-home media. The city is splashed with hoarding and signage with the Aircel Logo. So here's to the latest entrant who had us all appreciating art for several months with beautiful hoardings with Raghu Rai photographs, Welcome to The City Of Joy, Kolkata.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Orient Express

Last evening we had heard about this place called Orient Express. Well they basically only do take away and outdoor catering. So we ordered food from there. It was thrilling to see the packing. Unlike the normal square boxes we're all used to, these come in trapezoid paper cups (like you see in the Movies, english ones that is). The quantity was decent, but the quality and taste of the foos more than made up for that fact.

So if you're ever planning to order food, try out Orient Express.

Orient Express
Karnani Estate,
209 AJC Bose Road, Kolkata - 700017
Phone 033 3294 4545, 033 3294 2020

Click here to download the menu: MENU

Monday, May 05, 2008

TASHAN is I not Like

TASHAN…The Ishtyle…The Goodluck….the Pharmoola. Well I am to be committing The Esuicide after watching this phillum. The Ishtyle is overkill…The Goodluck is what it will need to rake in bucks in the box office and The Pharmoola is good that they had the Multiplex fracas. Otherwise this film would’ve bombed even faster. Even Bebo’s new skinny skimpy look doesn’t do anything to say anything good about the film. Ok I think if at all I had to mention a name, Akshay Kumar is good in his portrayal of Bachan Pandey. Anil Kapoor is also ok. But please, please watch this film to know the agony I had to go through.

Now I’m wondering why I’m even writing about this experience?

BB's, I'll be back

Last evening I really needed to get some grub after a dreadful afternoon spent watching a movie called TASHAN at 89 Cinemas, Swabhumi. The saving grace was that we were out of the heat and in the comfort of the AC hall. But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that I have been scarred for life after watching a film like TASHAN. Anyway after some lukhagiri at City Centre and not wanting to stand in line to get into KFC, we ended up driving past BB’s on our way to Azad Hind Dhaba in Salt Lake.

I must thank my stars and good fortune that I decided to duck into this place at Millennium City. It looks like a very basic family eatery and so it is. But only when I went through the menu card that I realised that it had a lot of depth in terms of the kinds of cuisines on offer. It had been a while since I had indulged in Thai food. Infact after coming back from Bangkok & Pattaya a while ago, I didn’t want to look at Thai food. But that had died down and the menu did have what seemed to be the promise of authentic Thai Food. So we jumped at the Thai Chicken Green Curry, Thai Mixed Fried Rice and Chilli Basil Chicken. Of course we had some Chicken Hot & Sour Soup before that, which believe you me, was Hot. The Thai food was authentic and just transported me back to the Pattaya Hill where I had tasted Thai Fried Rice for the first time.

I can vouch that I am coming back here to taste some of the other cuisines thought the service leaves a little more to be desired. If it lived up to the quality of the food, the place would get a Five Rating in my little culinary black book.

BB's Restaurant
DN-62, Millennium City,
Sector V, Salt Lake,
Kolkata - 700091
Tel: +91 (33) 50061999

afraa, again

I've said enough about afraa and thus the revisit to the place. this time around I took a friends of mine along who had come down from Delhi. The hawaiian Chicken was just extraordinary and as is visible, I just had to order some of that mashed potato. Also a treat to one's eyes is the bread basket. It looks more like a boat. At the end of the meal, I just loved the paan. About the bill? well I didn't pick up the tab so I wouldn't know. But we were quite happy with many beers down.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Apartment

Last evening after being engaged for a better part of the evening in some mind blowing work, I needed to go out to unwind. So on my way home I called some people and yippee!! There was a plan. We were meeting up at City Centre. Fact being that it was a Holiday and in all likelihood all the hang out places would be packed. So when I reached City Centre I wasn't surprised first to see it teeming with a mass of humanity and second to get a call to let me know that i was meeting my friends at The Apartment out of sheer want of going to a better place.

Well here is where it turned out to be an assumption of misinformed proportions. We all based our judgements on the fact that we had not heard about the place, heard about the place and heard not so good things about the place, but none of us had been here. So let me set it straight for the record. The Apartment, Rocks!

When I got there my friends had nearly washed down their first round of Kingfisher Pints. Well I came in on the second round and if I remember correctly it went up to about 5 rounds. But between all beers there was some great snacks and food. But the best part about this place is the DJ. The guy was dishing out music from the Disco era and coming right up to the R&B and Hip Hop hits of today. How he went into a Beatles medley and then classics like I will survive and Abba Classics.

The place has a decent sized dance floor and a bar with a high counter while we sat in the back in the cosy lounge seating. We enjoyed the Arc light on top or our table which we could switch on and off by ourselves to get the right kind of ambience. The place also has a gaming corner where you can indulge in some NFS or Soccer on a playstation.

While we were there we got shots poured into our mouths by the staff to get our feedback on a new cocktail they had just created. Good stuff. If you're lucky you might get to experience this wild kind of stuff.

All in all The Apartment was a great experience and will definitely put it on my radar for places to party.

The Apartment
B-302, City Centre
Salt Lake City,
Kolkata - 700064
Tel: +91 33 40063209

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day Lunch

This morning while I was heading out to work, as I drove out of my colony gate, there was a small group of people standing on the pavement across the road waving Red Flags while they took turns addressing the gathering from under a tree. As I drove to office, I didn’t need to make any nerve-racking manoeuvres through morning traffic. There was hardly any traffic on the Roads because of May Day. Yes Sir the state of Bengal is in complete shutdown mode to celebrate Labour Day.

Since we were working but it was a dull day, decided to go for lunch to a Bengali Cuisine restaurant called Tero Parbon on Purna Das Road. To our delight there was a Buffet on offer and here’s what the menu looked like...So we stuffed ourselves.

THE MENU

Bhat
Pulao
Luchi
Cholar Dal
Fish Fry
Enchorer Dalna
Parsher Jhal
Chingri Malaikari
Mutton Korma
Salad
Chutney
Chocolate Sandesh
Mishti Doi

All you can eat and all this for Rs. 330/- per head.

Tero Parbon
49/C Purna Das Road (near Golpark),
Kolkata - 700029