2 Elgin Lane, Kolkata, India

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Kewpie is a Bengali restaurant that opened in 1989, initially as a 12 seater in the garage of a residential house owned by Mr Pratik Kumar Dasgupta, who ran the restaurant with his daughters (he passed away in 2003). As its reputation grew it expanded to the entire downstairs of the house, and is now run by Rakhi Purmina Dasgupta and her sister, whose mother (known as Kewpie) wrote two Bengali cookery books, one now in its 28th print run. It can now accommodate over 50 people in four dining areas, and there is an associated catering business too. Despite the increase in scale over the years, you are clearly still eating in someone's house rather than a formal restaurant. 

The main menu choice is of four different variation on thali, served on a banana leaf in earthenware pots; extra dishes, both vegetarian and otherwise, can be added for a small supplement. No alcohol is served, but there are assorted soft drinks.

A slice of fried aubergine was pleasant enough (11/20), alongside a dum aloo that was, to be honest, pretty dull, a couple of potato balls in a rather flavourless gravy (10/20). A yellow dhal tasted fine but was almost cold when it arrived (11/20), while aubergine yoghurt tasted like, well, a warm plain aubergine in yoghurt (10/20). Bekti fish came in two forms, one steamed in a banana leaf with mustard sauce, the other deep fried. The steamed version was decent enough though its texture was not a patch on the same species of fish that I had eaten the day before at Peshawri (11/20). The fried version was a little better and probably the best dish of the night (12/20). Prawns in mustard sauce were also tolerable, though even for me the mustard flavour was too dominant. A jackfruit curry was pleasant (11/20), and the luchi flatbread was nicely made (13/20). Ignoring the execution of dishes, the menu seemed rather repetitive, with two aubergine dishes and two dishes with mustard sauce; there was even a side dish of, er, mustard sauce.

The staff were friendly and service was very pleasant. The bill, with soft drinks, came to just INR 1,892 for two, so £9 a head, which is certainly inexpensive. However if I compare this to the thali at the somewhat similar format Thaker in Mumbai, the food is not remotely of the same standard, and Thaker is even cheaper. I like the folksy background of Kewpie, with its family cookbook and homely feel, but at the end of the day the food really needs to be good, and to be honest this was pretty ordinary. Perhaps it was better at some point in the past. 

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  • Cristina Papini

    Agree with your review, but i'm sorry to add that last night the staff was pretty rude with my friend and me. Because oldish women? European? Or they just they didn't like us?