Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aheli at the AXIS Mall, New Town, Kolkata

I went to this place, with seven other colleagues on a Wednesday, during the lunch hours. For popular choice, we decided to take "Jamai er Raj Bhoj", which is a fixed bengali menu option.

Being lunch time, on a weekday, the restaurant was not even half filled to capacity. Those who were present, were a mix of office executives, as well as casual diners. The ambience was bengali, the restaurant being a speciality restaurant, and the cuisine was good, which was the only thing positive about the restaurant.

At the restaurant, which is at the highest price point, you would assume the service would be excellent. The restaurant severely fails to cater to this objective.

  • There were brass diya's on each table. The waiters never made any attempt to light them in the two tables where we are sitting.
  • There were two 500 ml water bottles for each table, for 4 persons. The waiter made no attempts to fill up the glasses, or ask if anyone would need a re-fill. Also, I would think that sharing a water bottle, can be a trifle humiliating, if someone is from outside bengal, specially clients from overseas
  • We opted for a fixed menu, and the restaurant was not even half-full. We still had to wait for 45 minutes, before any traces of food appeared on the table. This is absolutely unacceptable, specially during the lunch time
  • We opted for a fixed menu, but still I would have expected a menu card, explaining what is available, which I belive was never given to the table.
  • Bengali rice and dal is always accompanied by gandharaj lebu (A variety of lime). They provided a bowl of 3 lime slices, for each table of 4 (weird!!!)

The menu is fixed, and second helpings is available only for rice, and luchi (Poori). Only customization you can make is to select between a chicken or a mutton dish. I could not test some of the items, as they were not something which I eat (or like).

  • Rice - It was good, and was as expected
  • Loochi (Puri) - Good, but service was slow
  • Yellow Dal - Below average
  • Aloo - Jhinge Posto (Potato, and jhinge (Green indian vegetable) tossed in poppy seeds - I don't like jhinge so I had to miss it. My colleagues said it was good
  • Bhetki Mach Bhaja (Bhetki fish fried in batter) - The fish was good. The portion size was microscopic
  • Alur Dom (Spicy Potato in a spicy tomato curry) - Good Quality
  • Chingri Mach er malai curry (Small lobsters in a coconut gravy) - I am not a fan of fish/sea food, but I had to eat this as I had not much choice. The lobster was fresh, but the gravy (my colleagues opinion) was below average
  • Sorshe Ilish (Hilsa Fish, in a pungent mustard curry) - I had to miss this again, but I tasted the gravy. It was average
  • Mutton curry - This was good, and the muttons were tendered to perfection
  • Chutney - It was served in a single bowl for two tables of 8 people. I never noticed this, before I have finished my meal, and have washed my fingers !!!
  • Chamcham (An indian sweet) - Noting worth mentioning

The food can be aptly described by the statement of one of my colleagues. The incredients used are fresh, and of excellent quality. It can sometime be difficult to buy from these from the retail market, as no longer have people have the inclination to scout the market for the freshest of incredients. However, given the same incredients, anyone who is half a cook can prepare a similar, or better meal.

I belive the price is slightly on the higher side (Rs 600+tax per person), given that no customizations can be made on the menu, and the size of each individual portions are small.

Final Verdict
This restaurant is definitely a miss, if you are on a business lunch.
Quality wise, you can get a better meal at 6 Ballygunj Place, Salt Lake, or at Oh Calcutta (If you are willing to pay a much higher price).
Price wise, 6 Ballygunj place is cheaper.
However, it can be a quiet dining place for a couple who can probably spend 2-3 hours without being disturbed

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Comparison between Sigree and Abcos, Kolkata

Last week I had lunch in these two restaurants. It was my second visit at Sigree, and I don't remember the count visit to Abcos. Since both of the current visits were treats, I don't remember how much the sponsor had to shell out, but I will try to give my feedback with references to my past visits.

Eating is my hobby and I have been frequenting Kolkata restaurants since I have started earning. Abcos was our idea of an upscale restaurant, till the new restaurants came up in the upcoming malls. Some of the more costly restaurants like Hushh in City Centre, Salt Lake I believe offers value for money: the others, like Sigree I believe is nothing but a money burning machine. For example, in my last visit to Sigree, I had three 60 ml pegs of Teachers - Highland Cream, and although I don't remember how much exactly I paid for them, but I believe it is somewhat close to Rs 1500/- ie almost Rs 500/- per peg.

Anyway, lets forget about the past visits and compare the two restaurants, where I tested similar fares, on two consecutive days.

  • Food Quality
    Both restaurants offer great tasting foods, comparable, atleast to my taste-buds.

  • Ambience
    Sigree scores higher, as there is more breathing room between tables. The table sizes are similar. I didn't find any exiting visual appeal in either, as compared to some other restaurants with great ambience. Sigree is comparatively quiet, but I think that depends on whom I get as fellow diners.

  • Service
    Both restaurants offer good service

  • Price
    Sigree is priced much higher though the marginal utility you get over Abcos does not justify the price

I may go to Sigree once in a while, only if I am with my family, to spend a quiet dinner. 9 times out of 10 however, I would choose Abcos (or Charnok City, or other similar restaurants) for my lunch and dinner needs. If booze is one of the important items, I will definitely avoid Sigree.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Catch me if you can: Movie Review

Name: Catch Me if you can
Year: 2002
Director: Steven Speilberg
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks

This movie made a mark with me because of the undercurrent of love between Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). Frank has a brilliant mind, which he uses to forge checks and and embezzle money masquarading as a Pan Am airline pilot, a doctor and an attorney. Carl on the other hand is a FBI agent specializing on bank frauds and is determined to catch him. To find what happens, you have to watch the movie.

The first part of the movie is characterized by the smartness of Frank, the second part holds us to the edge of the seats as Carl is hot on Frank's trail and the third part is heady with the sublime affection between the detective and the fugitive. A well balanced movie.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bhojohori Manna, Swimming Pool Area, Salt Lake, Kolkata: Restaurant Review

Bhojohori Manna at Salt Lake, near Salt Lake Swimming pool is a restaurant serving Bengali cuisine. It is a chain with multiple branches in the city, all being served from the same kitchen.
I have visited this restaurant many times, and have enjoyed the quality food. The last visit was on Friday, 9th January, 2008.
I have eaten at two of their franchisee restaurants: at Sector V and at the Swimming pool branch. In both cases the restaurant is cramped, densely populated and no room for a breather. Before the sector 5 branch opened, there would always be a huge wait time to get a seat in this restaurant. Now, in this last visit we got a seat promptly in this restaurant, which is quite a surprise. Leaving this particular visit however, during all other visits we have to wait for a long time, in fact often we have decided to move to a different restaurant as time is precious during a working day.
We had the vegeterian thali along with Mutton Dakbunglow and crab curry. The vegeterian thali is a good option with Rice, dal (lentil soup), shukto (mildly bitter mixed veg curry), alu bhaja (fried shredded potato), polau (flavored rice) and once choice of vegeterian entree. Since there were three of us we selected three separate entrees : Mochar' ghonto (Can't describe this in english) , chana'r kalia (curried cottage-cheese) and dhokar dalna (fried lentil cake,curried). The food was ok but as always I did not like the chanar kalia, the cottege-cheese balls being too soft and too sweet. The mutton dish was okay and the crab too.

The vegeterian options are quite good, specially if you get few chances to taste authentic bengali cuisine.
There is not much options for meat eaters, this restaurant specializes in fish as non-vegeterian entrees. If you like fish, cooked in a traditional bengali way, this is the place to be.
This restaurant serves to the mass, not to the class. Be prepared for long wait-times, cramped space, people brushing around you and below-average courtesey.
The restaurant is fairly priced for its class, except for the fish dishes. Average fish dish costs Rs 120-Rs 150 for 1 piece of fish, which I think is very over-priced. (even for a classy restaurant, which this is not)
The service is prompt as they served pre-cooked food.
A meal for two will cost you around Rs 500/-
The taste is authentic bengali and the chefs are excellent.

Go to this place if you want to taste some of the best bengali fish cuisine available outside a bengali home, and you don't mind 30 min wait for a table and below average service in a cramped room.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rahmania, FC Block, Saltlake, Kolkata: Restaurant Review

Rahmania at FC Block in Salt Lake is the franchisee of the main Rahmania restaurant. The cricket tournament of our Company was being held at FC Grounds, and 4 of us decided to have our lunch here.

Before venturing out to restaurants like Rahmania, please remember that they lace their food freely with "Hydrogenated vegetable oil" (Vanaspati) and it is very difficult to digest. Though the free use of vanaspati does great to the tastes, they are hard on our digestive system.
I am sure this is an exception, but the meat in mutton biriyani which my friends ordered was rotten. On complaining they changed the food, but the new biriyani was the same. Finally they courteously replaced with Chicken Biriyani, which was OK. I had "Shammi Kabab" (Minced meat mixed with gram flour and fried) which was ok.

A meal for four cost Rs 400 i.e. Rs. 100/- per person.

Taste, Courtesy, Price,
Lack of Quality Control, Use of vanaspati (Hydrogenated vegetable oil), Lack of amenities like place to wash your hand, etc...
My Verdict
I may visit these place sometimes when I am adventurous, looking for a great taste and don't mind the inconvenience of indigestion later.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Alchemist

If you judge the book by the quality and complexity of the plot, then this book scores fairly poorly. The messages the book contain are pretty strong and it may help you to identify yourself. This book is full of insights and will be classified as a fable.

Overall, a nice reading. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

This is the first Dan Brown book that I have read, as I normally keep away from popular authors.I found this book to be quite interesting reading though.

This book has all the qualities of a great thriller. It is fast paced, moving from France to England, and the readers are kept to the edge of their seats. The suspense is maintained till the very end. The author also does a good job of doing lots of research, so the book is intellectually stimulating as well.

There are a few things though, which I don't like about this book. I was not satisfied with Sophie's decision of hiding the crypt: I believe all secrets should unfold for the benefit of those who are in the quest of knowledge. The author could also have put in more puzzles, and symbols to make the book more interesting. And most important, I don't agree with his choice of the villan. I am a great fan of education and hate relegious fanatics in all form. If I were the author, I would have made the church the villain.

Overall a nice reading. Definitely worth the bestselling status it has obtained. I would give it a 7 out of 10

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Miss Marple Omnibus Volume I

I can never say enough about the writings of Agatha Christie. It is a mix of emotions whenever I pick up any of her works. I plan to have her complete collection some day.

I had in my collection quite a few of her works. I had Herucule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence, and others but my collection was incomplete because I did not have any Miss Marple works. Recently I bought Miss Marple Omnibus Volumes I and II to do justice to this amazing lady.

Currently I am reading volume one of this collection. The novels that are included in this volume are:

  • The body in the library

  • The moving finger

  • A murder is announced

  • 4:50 from Paddingtom

Currently I am done reading the first three novels. Each one is very crisp, and very smart. She hypnotized me while I was reading through them, and after every chapter I was suspecting someone else, and in the end, when the plot was uncovered, I found I was wrong.

One more thing that attracts me to her writing is the fertility of her thought. The framework she constructs is absolutely mind-boggling. For example, in the novel "A Murder is Announced", I was struck by the audacity of the plot; a charade is conducted which led to the murder. Again, in "The body in the Library", the Red Herring effectively took my mind in a spin. That is the quality in her writing which I like: I would describe it in one word: smart!

I am very partial to Agatha Christie, and I would definitely recommend this work; or for that matter, any of her works; to anyone !!! And you guessed it !!! I would give it a perfect 10 out of 10

Saturday, April 22, 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life : Kaavya Viswanathan

Before I start, I would like to put a disclaimer; the views expressed are absolutely my own. I also took the liberty of putting in a picture of the title page. If that is inappropriate, please let me know and I will take it off.

The book caught my eye, while I was surfing through the offerings that were placed on display, in the book fair within our office campus. The title was something that attracted me; it made me think of the eternal story that is happening within any middle class Indian family. In order to get an education and a career, we are compromising on life itself.

I would classify this book as an adult fantasy. It has the charm of a fairy tale through and through. The heroine is an ugly duckling (not really ugly...I am just using a metaphor), she gets into all sorts of hardships, in Project HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get a Life), as the prime condition for her to get into Harvard was to act like a normal human being. It was comical and pathetic to see her parents chalk out plans for her to become popular. The story ends in the true fairy tale fashion. She gets to harvard, and gets her boyfriend back, whom she estranged when she tried "too hard" to get a life.

It is a nice reading, if fairy tales are your thing. The author uses crisp language, and the flow is smooth. The story is horribly predictable though, there were no element that caught me by surprise. The topic could have been given some serious treatment, but the author kept away from that route. There are no insights, and no way this book can be classified as serious stuff. I would give it a 5 out of 10