Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

So last Wednesday, I finally made my maiden visit to Oh! Calcutta, a restaurant which has been an epitome of fine culinary experience on Bengali food.
I have heard so many wonderful things about this place for many years now and since our colleagues from outside Bengal wanted to taste “authentic” Bengali food with their eyes set on the Queen of Fishes – Ilish, so Oh! Calcutta became an automatic choice for their Hilsa festival running till the end of this month.

We had already reserved the table and so when we arrived there, courteous staff helped us and served water immediately.

What did we eat?

Warming up…

We ordered for Gondhoraj Sorbet as the drink and for starters, we had Bhetki Gondhoraj and Kakra-Chingri Bhapa.
Kakra-Chingri bhapa was to my liking with the mashed crabmeat with shrimps just melting on my tongue!
Bhetki Gondhoraj was a hit with the rest but not with me – the Gondhoraj was bit over the top for me but must say, the fish was fresh!

Hitting the mains…

All of our guests wanted boneless Ilish and we ordered Bhapa Ilish and Smoked Hilsa from their Hilsa festival menu and some Bengali mishti pulao and plain Basmati rice to go with it.

Bhapa Ilish was a revelation and the unanimous star of the dinner. Sadly, there is no picture of that one – testifies to the fact that it was loved by all!

Smoked Hilsa, however brought out mixed feelings. In the past, I had tasted Smoked Betcki and Smoked Salmon as well and I tend to love that charred and smoky flavor but this specific variant with Ilish didn’t hit the right notes with us. This was the only dish which was not cleaned off at the end.

But when Ilish is there, can Mutton be far?
We also ordered Kasha Mangsho (Mutton) and Railway Mutton curry with some Lacha paratha and pulao.
The pulao was typical homely sweet variant with kaju and kismis while Lacha Paratha was much less oily which complimented the mutton kasha.
Railway Mutton Curry has been the quintessential dish connecting our colonial past with our love for mutton. Here this was light, good to taste and the meat was perfectly cooked.

Finally when Kasha Mutton was served, our eyes and tongues were gleaming/wagging by seeing the color of the dish served!
It was good, nothing great. Underwhelming bit as generally this one dish becomes one of the highlights.

The hole in our pockets?

Definitely pricey but being objective about the ambience and service, I felt bit overpriced. Mainly because of the most important part – the food and it’s lasting effect.
One single boneless medium cut piece of Ilish in Ilish Bhapa cost INR 945/-. (Same for Smoked Ilish)
Hmm.

Pro Tip: Look out for corporate discounts before the bill is prepared. We got 15% discount as well!

So what’s my take?

Though this place ranks among one of the top restaurants serving Bengali food, I must say, apart from Ilish Bhapa, none of the other dishes had a lasting and lingering feel on my mind or heart or tongue. More so, because of the price they charge.
Also a note about the customer feedback – post dinner, none of the restaurant personnel checked on how we enjoyed the overall meal ( they did ask once after serving the starters).
That much is expected from a top culinary joint from our city.

How was your Oh! Calcutta experience?

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