When I tell you that you could treat yourself and your loved ones to a gourmet meal at a chic, fine dining destination without burning a hole in your pocket, in fact at a fraction of the price you would expect to pay, you better believe me. Yes you can since Ola Prime presents Restaurant Week India powered by John Jacobs kicks off today in six cities across the country – Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune.
Restaurant Week India is a unique concept that aims at making ‘gourmet’ reasonable and affordable to more and more people while giving participating restaurants a chance to showcase their food and philosophy. So you can enjoy a three-course meal (lunch or dinner) at a five star fine dining destination well within your means (Rs 900 plus taxes per person to be precise, for Kolkata). For more information on Restaurant Week India and to book a table check out their website http://restaurantweekindia.com/
This year the Kolkata Chapter of the Restaurant Week boasts a fantastic line-up of restaurants, each one with a stellar menu that packs in some of their best dishes. I was invited to preview the Restaurant Week special menu at Bodega Cantina Y Bar, one of the city’s newest hotspots off Park Street and I was keen on sharing my experience with you.
The carefully curated ‘Restaurant Week’ special menu showcases some of Bodega’s habitual crowd-pleasers, in addition to a small selection of signature dishes, especially crafted for the Restaurant Week (picks from this selection comes at an additional cost of Rs 100 for appetisers and Rs 200 for mains, but it’s worth it). Picking a few dishes from the drool-jerking set of choices I was faced with, was fast turning into a harrowing experience So, I sought the help of sous chef Sagar Chandra (of course, who could better guide me through the menu). Of course, since I was here for a preview of the menu, I got to sample quite a few dishes – professional perks! (All for you so I can make a few informed recommendations for you, you see.) Anyway, about what followed…
For appetisers chef Chandra recommended the Laal Maas Tacos and the Korean Fried Chicken Bao. The Laal Maas Tacos were basically miniature whole wheat taco shells on which sat mounds of tender lamb braised with red chilies, topped with a drizzle of piquant mint chutney and a heap of sirca pyaaz. Hot and spicy, this is a good way to perk up the meal. But I preferred the Korean fried chicken Bao to the Laal Maas Tacos. The soft baos slathered with homemade Sriracha infused mayo, encased crisp, batter fried sliced of perfectly seasoned chicken, shredded lettuce and julienned root veggies. The soft pillowy baos, the crisp fried chicken, the velvety Sriracha mayo with its fiery, tangy kick, and the crunchy veggies – this dish was a mix of flavours and textures I loved.
“But you must try one of the RW signature appetizers,” Chef Chandra insisted. I am glad he did. For I had been eyeing the Brie Cheese Fritters, right from the moment I was handed the menu. When the dish arrived I was ecstatic. For the uninitiated Brie, often pitched as the Queen of Cheese (and rightly so) is a delicious soft, cow milk cheese of French origin that comes with a pronounced and utterly delightful tang. Cubes of Brie dipped in a thin batter and fried until a delicate golden, came on a bed of assorted lettuce, a splotch of slightly sweet and sticky chili plum glaze and a scoop of green apple sorbet, a tad gooey, sitting on a bed of crumble. Basically pick a fritter with a fork, roll it in the sweet and spicy glaze and crunch into it. Just as the hot, melted cheese oozes into your mouth, chase it with a spoonful of that chilled sorbet. In one word –bliss!
I skipped soup – there was a choice between potato and leek soup with truffled potatoes and chicken consommé with wild mushroom stuffed tortellini. Let’s head straight for the mains I said.
I had just enough space for a dessert. So, I looked around trying to get the attention of one of the waiting staff. One was walking right up to my table, with what looked like two other dishes. The kind lady serving us ventured “The chef has sent these tasting portions of these RW signature mains.” “I have hardly seen tasting portions that big!” I blurted out. She smiled an awkward smile. Could I manage more food? Could I give up on what was put down on the table? Saying a no to the latter proved tougher. I would gladly suffer for food. So, I asked for fresh cutlery.
First up was The Mushroom Forest. Soft, fresh made tortellini stuffed with assorted mushrooms, green beans and peas topped with white truffle powder, sat in a deep pool of dense, velvety cream sauce studded with chunks of mushrooms (sautéed) and finished off with a dusting of dehydrated black olives. Fancy haan! The white truffle powder gave the dish these earthy, sweet and slightly pungent notes that sent the flavour quotient soaring. This dish was easily the highlight of the evening.
The next dish (well hold your breath) - lamb shanks that have been slow cooked with tomatoes, onions and hint of spices, for over 44 hours sat on a bed of buttered rice. The meat held on to the bone with a delicate clasp, - deliciously tender yet with a hint of bite, and slightly caramelised round the edges, laced with the subtle flavoured tomato sauce is perhaps one of the best picks on the menu, and I couldn’t stop at the one bite I had promised to restrict myself to.
By the time dessert arrived, I was puffing and panting. But I do need a photograph, don’t I? I reasoned with myself. For dessert I picked one of the signature desserts The Rocky Road. A thick band of flexible chocolate ganache, sat on a pool of burnt meringue. A drizzle of raspberry gel, scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, mounds of liquid nitrogen infused chocolate mousse and crumbled chocolate cookies finished the dessert. I couldn’t finish it, a couple of spoons is all I could manage. If you like chocolate, lots of it, you’re likely to like this one.