Friday, September 16, 2016

Restaurant Week India: The Conversation...

“Sir, can I take 5 minutes of your time?”- He catechized, splintering through the impervious layer of silence. Aha! That wasn’t too dramatic anyway.
“(Arghh)…Ermm…okay….sure”- I responded laboriously; trance was broken for sure. Not the best state of affairs, but then that’s how life is; euphoria is fugacious. 5 minutes was a hell lot of time.
“Sir, I heard that this Quest Mall has a host of fantastic eateries. Are they affordable?”- He investigated. Goodness gracious me, is he a mind-reader? Yes, he did pick me up from Quest Mall, but then, such pin point questions? Oh wait! Has he been stalking me all the while? Why didn’t he raise these questions in Sohini’s presence?
“Umm…yes, there are. Why?”- I sounded rather skeptical with my response. Why was he asking such flaky questions in the first place?
“Sir, girl-friend ko leke jana hai….aap madam se baat kar rahe the, to maine socha…..” (Sir, I wanted to take my girl-friend along, overheard your discussion and thought of asking) - He was interrupted midway by an imbecilic tippler crossing the road; he had to pull the brake real hard. Ah, you do expect these things to happen at this juncture; kinda scary when it happens on the E .M. Bypass of course…I checked my wristwatch, it read 10:52 PM.
This brake (read- break) was a much needed one; the thrust “shook” me and in turn, gave me that extra bit of time to gather my thoughts. Yes, he has been following every bit of our conversation rather punctiliously and of course, waited for the right opportunity to shoot those questions. But then, are his intentions right?
“Sir, it’s our anniversary next week and we wanted to celebrate in style. If you could kindly suggest…..”- Of course the interruption couldn’t stem the flow.
Hmm…I was perhaps assuming way too much. But I decided to keep silent for the time being, I was waiting for more “information”.
“Sir, she loves Spaghetti….but I can’t afford it most of the times. I heard you discussing this with madam and couldn’t resist myself from asking, I hope you didn’t mind.”- He said. And for the first time he turned around and looked into my eyes. He was a young man, perhaps of the same age-group…but he had bright and glossy eyes. I couldn’t make out his expression in the dark….but by now, I was rather sure that there was hope in there. He was referring to our conversation on our way back home from the Quest Mall, the conversation that was pretty much woven around the delightful cuisines that we tasted at the Smokehouse Deli as a part of exclusive preview of “The Restaurant Week 2016”, Calcutta leg. As a part of this preview, we, the bloggers were also given complimentary Ola Prime rides to and from the restaurant of our choice; the person in discussion was my Ola Prime chauffeur on the way back home. We were pretty much on a “high” during the first half of the journey….savoring each and every moment of our dining experience at Smokehouse Deli; “we” as in me and my wifey, the aftermath of a delightfully piquant outing. The signature “Boss Style Spaghetti” (that was served right at the climax), pretty much dominated the discussion…it’s perhaps the best spaghetti that I’ve had in recent times. And very importantly, it wasn’t filling too. Of course, the Peri Peri Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Citrus Pimento did impress us too….I’ve always had a thing or two for Peri Peri chicken, remember having a great one at the DLF Cyber hub in Gurgaon, but this one was class apart. Sohini, by the way, loved the Spiced Coriander and with Lemongrass Chicken Skewers starter as well, I have always felt that the mere presence of coriander enhances the taste of a specific set of cuisines; this was no exception. Loved the tenderness in its texture, the way it coats on to the taste-buds and almost melts in your mouth, arghh…I’m almost getting carried away with the flow as I write it. The smoked chicken & onion pizza, with a thin delectable base was impressive because of the idiosyncratic flavor, I found the non-veg sliders slightly filling. Smokehouse Deli was kind enough to allow us to taste all the signature dishes despite the three-course-set-menu format of the Restaurant Week India initiative- and it goes without saying that we relished the experience to the core. Special mention for the Devil-led Roast Tenderloin served with Garlic Jam Bites that was luscious to the core; I'm generally not a beef fan, but then this one would perhaps change my perception...I reckon this would pair well with Red wine pretty nicely. The Moremelon was an interesting rendition for me, experimenting with fresh fruits has always been my thing- the revitalizing dose of Moremelon was much needed on an otherwise grueling weekday. Not to forget, the ambiance is beautiful and the hospitality amazing, never had a chance to dine at Smokehouse Deli before and it was quite a pleasant experience. Of course, in course of the Restaurant Week, you can actually try all of these at a flat rate of INR 900/- per diner, the signature appetizers being priced at an additional INR 100/- and signature main courses at an additional INR 200/- only; that for me does the trick. I firmly believe that Calcutta is the food central of country and a Pre-Pujo pocket-friendly solution makes this deal all the more lucrative. A mere INR 60/- as reservation tariff, is again an affordable proposition in my opinion; that completes the entire cycle..!!
Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Refreshing Moremelon
The excitement was slowly settling in…a palliative phase I would rather say…I was also enjoying the ride back home via the stretches of E.M. Bypass; aaaaand my trance was broken. Blame it on Sohini, who was over enthusiastic with her explication or our overall eloquent food-versation that tickled his dripping spirits. The tête-à-tête began just a while after Sohini got down at Dhakuria, ermm….it was a rather one sided interaction, but then, the damage was done. Rahim (Just about realized that his name did flash on the Ola App when I booked my Ola Prime) was desperate to take his girl-friend out for an affordable-dinner-date...!

Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Luscious Devil-led Roast Tenderlon & Garlic Jam Bites
Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Delightful Smoked Chicken & Onion Thin Crust Pizza

Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Savory Peri Peri Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Citrus Pimento
Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Signature Smokehouse Deli Non-Veg Sliders
“Sir…can you suggest some budget dining options? Where did you have Spaghetti…? The Boss style Spaghetti?”-  Rahim poked again. He wanted me to speak up….at the same time, he sensed that I wasn’t willing to. And the mere realization that my drop location was approaching, literally freaked him out…I wasn’t a savior by any stretch of imagination. But his concern was genuine….fine dining is indeed a pricey affair these days…the concept of luxury-budget-dinner is pretty much non-existent these days; I quickly did a back-ground research on the internet using Ola Prime’s Free Wi Fi, I wanted to double check on the Restaurant Week India 2016 dates before floating the idea.
“I am a Mechanical Engineer Sir….we were victims of the recession period; but then I have had a fascination for cars and bikes right through. Driving with Ola for the first time and loving it!”- I don’t know why he said this; perhaps that was his last resort…. but then, whatever he said made an impact. Yes, I’m not an overtly emotional person, but for somebody who’s doing series on the “Humans of Calcutta”, I reckon, this is indeed a moving account and a source of strong content.
Well, my destination had arrived and I could sense his disgruntlement as I stepped out of the car.
Smokehouse Deli”- I whispered as he was about to leave, I could see his face lit up...”Try and avail the exclusive Restaurant Week India offers running from 16th-25th September 2016 at INR 900/-. I have your number, I’ll text you the details. Take care!!”
Smokehouse Deli Delights: The Show-stopper alright....
Boss Style Spaghetti (High Recommended)
* About Restaurant Week IndiaOLA Prime presents Restaurant Week powered by John Jacobs is the largest and amongst the most popular pan-India culinary events, where the foodies and food-enthusiasts get an exclusive opportunity to dine at some of India’s finest restaurants at a fraction of the a la carte rates, that's a quality-pocket-friendly-solution. Restaurant Week India commenses from 16th September and continues till 25th September 2016 covering some of the premium fine dining hubs of Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Follow the hashtags to catch all the action from the preview -#RestaurantWeek #RWI #OlaPrime. As a part of the blogger's preview of #RWI, I decided to dine at Smokehouse Deli, Quest Mall, Kolkata and I found the food pretty good. Verdict: Highly recommended.
* Tariff- Restaurant Week Kolkata features 14 participating restaurants that will offer a three-course prix fixe menu (with an option of vegetarian or non-vegetarian) at INR 900/- for lunch and INR 900/- for dinner per diner. The signature appetizers are priced at an additional INR 100/- & signature main courses at an additional INR 200/- only. A mere INR 60/- needs to be paid online to secure reservation beforehand; the offerings (and also the online reservation facilities) are listed down in the Restaurant Week India website. The price, per individual, is exclusive of applicable taxes, service charges and anything ordered outside of the special Restaurant Week menu. Ola Prime customers to get exclusive discounts as well.
* List of participating restaurants: Calcutta Leg-  This is indeed a fantastic list- 1. Bodega Cantina Y Bar, Park Street, 2. Gucchi, Hyatt Regency Kolkata, 3. La Cucina, Hyatt Regency Kolkata, 4. Pan Asian, ITC Sonar, 5. Peshawri, ITC Sonar, 6. Saffron, The Park Kolkata, 7. Smoke House Deli, Ballygunge, 8. Souk, Taj Bengal Kolkata, 9. Studio – The Pan Asian Galerie, Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences, 10. The Legacy Grill, The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata, 11. West View, ITC Sonar, 12. Yauatcha, Quest Mall, 13. Zen, The Park Kolkata, 14. Kalash, Hotel Hindustan International, Kolkata.

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