The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The new menu at Spaghetti Kitchen

The fine dining Italian restaurant Spaghetti Kitchen at Forum mall has just moved on to a brand new menu in a long time. As it is becoming increasingly usual these days, they invited food bloggers in the media call for a preview at lunch. Yours truly was happy to receive an invite for having a soft corner for all things pasta and an interest to explore Italian cuisine.

As I settled down at the tastefully decorated restaurant (both interiors and exteriors) on 4th floor a little after twelve o’ clock with Indrajit, a fellow blogger, I noticed the Margarita menu on the tent card placed on the table. All the drinks are fresh fruit-based and available in virgin and alcoholic variants (mocktail and cocktail in other words). Priced at Rs 200 and Rs 400 respectively (without taxes). My pick as the welcome drink was Kiwi & Black Pepper Margarita (virgin). Liked the sweet taste balanced with black pepper and the tartness of kiwi fruit, though it was a tad sweeter for my taste. Indrajit had ordered a Pineapple & Cucumber Margarita (virgin).

Spaghetti Kitchen

 Kiwi & Black Pepper (Left) and Pineapple & Cucumber Margarita (Right)

As the other bloggers and mediapersons poured in, we were introduced to executive chef Indraneel. He shared with us the thoughts behind the menu recast. Spaghetti Kitchen wanted to  connect with the youth of the city, at the same time retain its image of an Italian cuisine destination. The changes have been brought in keeping in mind both these factors. So the menu has turned more Italian, it has more pizzas. Also keeping in mind the palate of Kolkata, the chef has introduced bekti. So far the restaurant has used basa and other fishes common to the hospitality sector.

 Chef Indraneel

Our lunch started off with the breads & salads section. First arrived Chargrilled Flat Bread. Liked it. The coriander leaf paste on the top added an unsual tang to its taste. It was served with four dips- baba ganoush, bessara, labneh and garlic cheese mousse. Baba ganoush is actually a simple mash of cooked eggplant, olive oil, garlic, etc, similar to Indian Baingan ka Bharta. Bessara is a Moroccan dip made of a vegetable called fava bean, similar to hummus in Lebanese cuisine. Labneh is a Greek yogurt. Out of the four, the garlic cheese mousse worked for me the most, and I kept taking it with the next few dishes.

 Chargrilled Flat Bread with the dips

The bread was followed by Sweet Pepper Ripieni and Caesar Polo Rustico, which is a variation of the Caesar salad, made with smoked chicken breast minus the croutons. I like Caesar salad and this one tasted delicious. I had Caesar salad last month in Casa Kitchen in a food festival, but the lettuce in this one tasted much better. As I figured out, the difference was in the use of dressing. The earlier one was low on it, so didn’t appeal much. I only wish the chicken was a little softer though. The  Sweet Pepper Ripieni was an interesting dish- Juicy bell peppers with a delightful filling of a mixture of cheese and herbs.  The inside of a bell pepper was scooped out and the skin was cut, then grilled or baked (seemed to be) and made into a roll with the said filling. It was yummy and would be one of the recommended dishes. This section which began the lunch for us left me in a happy frame of mind, looking forward to the next dishes.

Sweet Pepper Ripieni (L), Supreme D Pollo Red Pesto (Centre) & Caesar Polo Rustico (R)
 Sweet Pepper Ripieni (garnished)

What followed was a new section- Hot Antipasti (starters), which is purely Italian. We were served Sweet N Smoky Cottage Cheese, Fungi Friti, a baked chicken dish called Supreme D Pollo Red Pesto (See in picture above) and an assortment of seafood fries named Frito Misto D’ Mare. The first one is cubes of cottage cheese (Chhena) mixed with cheddar cheese, spiced and grilled. I liked the fine balance of sweet and spicy taste of the soft cubes. Fungi Friti is breaded and dip fried mushrooms caps filled with garlic spinach and herb scented cheese. I love mushroom, but somehow it failed to score, maybe the combo of mushroom and spinach didn’t work for me. The baked chicken dish was nothing exciting too. The fritters were crunchy and tasty, and coupled with the perfect dip in the burnt garlic aioli (a mayonnaise) served with it. There were squid and fish (Basa) in the assortment, may be prawn too, but not on my plate.

 Frito Misto D’ Mare

I was ready for the mains now. Pizzas and pastas are considered an altogether different section here, distinct from main course. So they arrived at this time. I was served a slice of a vegetarian pizza- Pizza Abruzzo and a non-vegetarian pizza- Pizza Casablanca. I like pizzas and that’s it. No special fondness for them, especially for vegetable pizza. But the perfectly crisp, thin crust pizzas scored for me. Pizza Abruzzo, topped with olives, artichoke, asparagus and sun-dried tomato, was good, possibly for the chosen combination of veggies and the flavour enhanced by the sun-dried tomatoes. A thumbs up to the Pizza Casablanca- topped with Moroccan spiced chicken with cumin, chilies, saffron and olives. The combination of Moroccan spices and garlic seemed to have done the trick and the generous amount of molten cheese inside played its part well. I couldn’t shoot pictures of the pizzas separately, but you can find them in the assortment picture at the end.

Ah! My favourite section of the Italian cuisine arrived now- pastas. Two dishes were served- Fusilli Putanesca and Penne Vodka. The fusilli dish is a classic preparation with olives, cherry tomatoes , peppers and capers in a flavoured tangy tomato sauce with feta cheese and the penne preparation is a specialty with light cream and imported Pomodoro tomatoes, Parmesean cheese and flamed with vodka. My vote goes to the penne (See image later on). The gravy was finger-licking type where the combination of cream and cheese complimented by tomato worked (no overtone of tomato). I surely would have polished off more if I hadn’t been feeling a little full and still had to keep space for the main course and desserts. The fusilli didn’t appeal to me for the strong tanginess of the sauce.

Indraneel kept coming back for instant feedback on the dishes. As I complimented him on Pizza Casablanca, he informed me of this pan pizza he makes with three sauces and all kinds of meat, aptly named ‘Meat Lovers’ Pizza’. I would love to check that out next time.

 Fusilli Putanesca

Time for mains. In came Crepes Zenith, Cottage Cheese Umbria, Porto Fino Fish and Pickled Pepper Scented Chicken. The crepe dish was an assortment of crepes with creamy mushroom, garlic sautéed spinach and tangy ratatouille, cooked with cheese sauce. Loved the fine taste, much for the excellent cheese sauce and mushroom. The cottage cheese dish (the second one in this meal) was good again and I understand Spaghetti Kitchen can be trusted with cottage cheese preparations. The Porto Fino Fish is a pan seared fish steak served on the bed of aromatic veloute (a kind of white sauce made with stock instead of milk) and garnished with veggies. I found the sauce quite mild in the crowd of veggies and the fish was bland, precisely low on salt. The quality of the fish was top class though and the chef has used bekti for the first time. Either the dish needs reworking or it wasn’t made well that day. I loved the Pickled Pepper Scented Chicken- a roasted chicken roulade enhanced with red wine and orange liquor sauce and green black pepper sauce served with mashed potato. The flavour didn’t play to the palate, but the fine taste was elevated by the sauces. I am sure if I hadn’t tasted so many dishes by then, I would have appreciated the taste more. One point to note here- the only slight hitch can be for those who don’t love mashed potato to go with a meat dish, as the meat is dry in this preparation. They can have it with more of the sauce.

 Crepes Zenith (L), Fusilli Putanesca (C) & Penne Vodka (R)
 Pickled Pepper Scented Chicken

As I said I was feeling too full to take anything more at this point of time, but how could the chef’s request to sample the desserts be turned down? So our table ordered one portion each of the items to be shared among ourselves- Classic Tiramisu, house-baked mango cheesecake and Raspberry Cheesecake Gelato. And as the menu says, were they sinful. I had the cheesecake first. It was super soft and cheesy, fabulous cheesecake above a layer of crisp biscotti topped with mango pulp and tiny pieces of mango. The tiramisu was, to put it simply, sublime. Everything was just perfect in it- the sponge cake, the cheese, the grated chocolate.  You can visit Spaghetti Nation just for great tiramisu. The gelato was good. After all the same house operates the Gelato Italiano chain.

 Raspberry Cheesecake Gelato (L), Baked Mango Cheesecake (C) and Tiramisu (R)
Add caption Assortment of some menu items. At the centre is Pickled Pepper Scented Chicken. Pizzas on back table.

The cost for two should be Rs 2000-2200 (without alcoholic beverage) plus taxes. The restaurant is open 11 am to 3 pm and 6 to 11 pm.

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