The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Change of menu at Cha Bar

Nested inside Oxford Bookstore, I like this joint as a cool place to unwind with friends with a limited range of good food at reasonable prices (the only such casual dining place I know on Park Street). As the name suggests, it should particularly appeal to tea lovers and connoisseurs for its vast range of teas including Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, Sikkim, Oolong and handpicked foreign teas in all conceivable varieties. You can enjoy food over reading a book you picked up from shelves (which you may return or buy if you like) or walk in just for the food and ambience. Read my first review of the place published last year here.

On one October evening post-Puja, I walked in to join a bloggers meet over their refreshed menu. It look no time for me to dive deep into an adda (chat session) peppered by the usual banter in a blogger friends’ circle. The entire menu of new items was presented to us, printed nicely on two transparent plastic sheets and tied by a red lace, wherefrom we ordered what we liked. It was divided in Sandwiches, Wraps, Small Nibbles, Local Plates and Desi Burgers. Our imminent sojourn with the food was named Flavothon, and aptly so, for the long list to choose from. Nitin Warikoo, Head of Cha Bar flew in from New Delhi to be with us. I had first met this smiling, friendly gentleman in my first bloggers meet at this place last year (See the post on this blog mentioned above).

It kicked off with Smoked Chicken and Mustard Sandwich for me- applewood smoked chicken with traditional English mustard sauce between brown bread slices. I love sandwiches and exploring varieties of it, and I love mustard. The chicken was in small, juicy chunks and the mustard in generous quantity. My only feedback to Nitin was to make the mustard strong enough to give a hit, at least a moderate one. If it calls for tweak of recipe, so be it, but that’s the kind of mustard sauce that mostly appeals to the palate this city. If that’s done, it can be one of the attractions at Rs 120.

Smoked Chicken and Mustard Sandwich

The Chilli Chicken Wrap looked inviting with the non-oily paratha loaded with spicy chicken. After all, Kolkata loves its rolls! It is served with with chopped, vinegar-soaked, spiced onion and tomato. It didn’t disappoint completely, but the paratha could be softer, so that it wouldn’t harden when not that hot. The chicken is not what we call chilli chicken. Rather, it’s a spicy Indian kind of chicken which lacked the desired sharpness. My view was: Change the name and enhance the spiciness a bit, something that can be enjoyed by all ages and palates. Done right, this dish can be one of the draws here. The mint sauce seen in the picture was picked up by us from the table, and not served with it. It’s reasonably priced at Rs 110.

Chilli Chicken Wrap

The Celery Chicken Club is your familiar triple decker with brown bread, interlaid with grilled chicken and poached egg accompanied by celery. The tender chicken was dripped in sour mayo, which should have been less as it bore upon the taste of chicken. Otherwise, it was good! It can be an option for the health food seekers. Great value for money too, at just Rs 110!

 Celery Chicken Club

Our adda was hindered only by the servings. The bloggers pounced on the food with cameras whenever any dish arrived.



Their desi take on burgers is interesting! Tried the Bun Kebab first. A patty of minced chicken kebab put inside a halfway cut medium burger bread, on a dab of mayonnaise and served with mint chutney. Liked the taste! Shows value at just Rs 60. But you must have it hot. I took a repeat.

Bun Kebab

Though I love egg, I’m not fond of egg-based bread dishes, unless it has other non-veg proteins. So, though the Bun Omelette didn’t disappoint (omelette replaced chicken kebab in the earlier bun, served with tomato ketchup), I didn’t think it was worth a repeat. Not value for money either (same price as Bun Kebab). They also have a bun tikka (with potato tikia).

Bun Omelette

In Small Nibbles, I picked up the Three Chilli Cheese Toasties reluctantly (as it was vegetarian yet the cheese was too inviting to resist). And I didn’t regret. It’s cheese toast (having cheese in good measure) with three kinds of chilli- Jalapeno, green chilli and red chilli. It was scrumptious, just short of finger-licking! The variety of chilli in utter cheesiness created a winning flavour. Don’t go by so much of chilli, it’s not that hot and can be enjoyed by all, even children. A recommendation for vegetarians. Comes at just Rs 80.

 Chilli Cheese Toastie

It was time to bid adieu at Flavothon. The parting gift was appealing to me, as I dig health food and drink. A nice, large box of Typhoo green teas in six flavours apart from pure green tea. Typhoo is an iconic British tea brand born in 1903. The brand which is the second largest tea manufacturer in the UK and delights people in 50 countries was acquired by Apeejay Tea (The same group which runs Cha Bar and Oxford Bookstore) in 2005. To be honest, I do not like green tea for the taste, but I was looking forward to sample the flavours like masala chai, lemongrass and Moroccan Mint. There’s a coconut flavour as well.





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