Food: ★★★★☆ Service:★★★☆☆ Ambiance:★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
My friend Tirthankar invited me to go and experience his favourite Bengali restaurant. It’s not on the main street and you need to know which side street to go down. It also only opened a few months ago, but is already super busy. Calcutta Street has been established by successful pop-up cook Shrimoyee Chakraborty and succeeds in bring authentic Bengali food to our town. Sadly certain ingredients are tough to get, as we found out later on. When we arrived the place was already fairly booked out and it stayed that way until we left! The menu comes in beautiful heavy wooden holders. they look a bit like the shutters on windows. A little bit to heavy and unyielding for the small tables provided.
Tirthankar guided me through the menu and advised on whats good and whats best! After we ordered we got two handfuls of Jhal Muri to start us off, which is a very common snack in Calcutta.
As a starter I choose Doi Phuchka, crispy, tangy semolina balls filled with potato and dipped into tamarind sauce. They were very tasty and lite, little bites. Thirtanker had Mach Bhaja, which is whitebait spiced with chaat masala, cumin and chilli and fried in mustard oil. He told me he mostly gets it because of the mustard provided, which is much spicier than the european one. As I don’t eat fish I only tried the mustard and it has a very good kick to it. It seemed that all dishes were rather hot when it came to spice levels, so this is not for the korma eaters out there.
For main we went all out! After lengthy consideration I decided to go with Kosha Mangsho Bengali style (as suggested by T), which is deep, rich, hearty lamb curry. It’s described as “Calcutta’s answer to a Sunday roast” on the menu and it was indeed very rich sauce with tender lamb. It was too much for me and T had to finish it for me. Next to my lamb he also had Prawn Malai Kari Tiger prawns cooked in a creamy coconut sauce. Again I tried the sauce which was a little bit spicy. Beware. On the side we had Alur Bhaja, which are the skinniest fries I’ve ever seen, plus Luchi (deep–fried puffed flat bread) and two kinds rice. It was all very rich and tasted amazing, but I would have gone for less bread and rice.
To go with the meal with had some original Bengali drinks. T swore on the Masala Thumps Up Cola, which is Indian spiced cola. I was told you can get Thumps Up in London, but not the spiced version. I tried one of the long drinks: Aam Pora, which intrigued me as it was meant to have green mangoes in it, plus black salt, fresh mint and soda. Sadly when it came to the table it clearly had yellow mango in it and we are speculating that it is maybe very tricky to get cheap green mangos in London. T also tried to order Aankher Rosh, which has cane juices in it. We were told they took it off the menu, as it wasn’t easy to get.
This is not a cheap indian place, but it’s a great place. The service was struggling a bit and we had to play “catch the waiter” a bit, but the atmosphere was great. The food was delicious, but as said before – be aware of the spice level.
29 Tottenham Street
London, W1T 4RU