When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Kolkata, do as the Bengalis do — eat. With that philosophy guiding me, I landed up at a restaurant that friends had been talking about when I reached the city. The restaurant, called Ekdalia Rd, is at (no prizes there!) 1, Ekdalia Road. The road is in Ballygunge, in the heart of the city.
It’s a small restaurant, but doing brisk business. I was there, with friends and family, early for lunch, but by the time we were done, the place was buzzing. The eatery is open from the morning, as it does breakfast as well (with eggs, sandwiches, bacon, pancakes).
Though I always get waylaid by bacon, I focused on the main menu, and decided that I would bravely look past it and order a grilled chicken. I opted for the chimichurri sauce – which is a South American mix that I am fond of. We also ordered the polo olives, crunchy raw papaya salad, grilled pork chops, and crispy pork.
The reactions at the table were mixed. The polo olives (₹ 299) turned out to be fresh olives wrapped with chicken, and grilled. We found them a bit too dry. We couldnt taste the olive in those small chicken balls. The green papaya salad (₹ 99) was crunchy, mildly tart and light. Two others friends shared the crispy pork — sliced pork coated with Panko and fried (₹ 259) — but were disappointed. The meat wasn’t crispy enough.
When the grilled chop (₹ 349) was brought to the table, I couldn’t not look at it. It was glistening with bits of fat, just the way it should be, and a brown sauce winked alluringly at me. The slow-cooked pork chops came with herbed rice and mashed potatoes. The chop was superbly juicy, with a buttery demi-glace that added to the taste. I confess: I had a small bite of it, ignoring my doc’s no-no.
I was also very happy with my dish: a succulent spring chicken (₹ 329). The breast piece came with the delightful sauce prepared with some herbs (a lot of parsley), garlic, olive oil and red-wine vinegar. The chicken was juicy, and the sauce gave it the flavours it needed. It came with some crunchy (and very healthy, if I may add) black rice and sautéed veggies.
The restaurant is run by a former IT man called Surojit Rout, who followed his passion for food to set up this restaurant. He is now also running a quick-service outlet called Ekdalia Express at Patuli. I am told there is on offer a delicious marmalade. We had Rout’s beet jam, which was superb – sweet without being cloying, mildly tart.
In the run-up to the Bengali New Year, and during the festive season — the restaurant will offer a ‘Firinghee Thala’ in collaboration with (my friend) Pritha Sen, who is not just a food historian but a great cook. The non-veg thali has delicacies like topshe maach fried, Armenian khichuri, cabbage keema dolma and murgh makallach (Yehudi murghi). The vegetarian platter includes eggplant cutlet curry, pumpkin foogath, Colonel Skinner’s chutney, and spinach cheese kofta curry. Let the New Year be full of food — and happy!