Oh Calcutta

No.10/3, 4th Floor, Forum Shopping Mall,, Elgin Road, Kolkata, 700020, India

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"Oh! Calcutta" (the restaurant rather than the Broadway musical) opened in 2003, and is now the flagship of a chain of Bengali restaurants. The original branch here is on the fourth floor of the Forum shopping centre in Bhowanipore, the first shopping mall to be built in Kolkata. The dining room is brightly lit and quite smart, with black and white prints on the walls and dinner-jacketed waiters. The menu is lengthy, wth numerous Bengali dishes as well as some more familiar fare. There was a short wine list that did not show vintages, with selections such as Hardys Cabernet Merlot at INR 2250 (£22.50), a sizable markup from its U.K. retail price of £6 and Moët et Chandon champagne a INR 8,500 (£85) compared to a shop price of about £39. 

Cottage cheese and green pea croquettes were not going to win any awards for presentation, but the batter was clean and crisp, the filling pleasant (12/20). On the side were a range of chutneys that appeared to be made from scratch. Murgh malai tikka is a classic dish of chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt, spices (and sometimes curd cheese) and then cooked in the tandoor. The version here was exceptionally good, the chicken tender, suffused with spices and with a pleasing hint of charcoal from the tandoor. I have had this dish a great many times, but few versions better than this (easily 15/20).

Butterflied prawns were served in a hollowed out coconut shell with a light coconut based sauce. The prawns were tender, the sauce a little thin and for me under-spiced (12/20). I preferred a yellow dhal, which had thick texture and well balanced spices (14/20). This was better than gobi aloo muttar, a blend of cauliflower, potato and peas where the vegetables were cooked too long and were on the mushy side (11/20). On the side, both supple garlic naan and luchi, a deep fried Bengali flatbread that puffs up into a ball, were good (13/20). Steamed rice was quite delicate (13/20).

The bill came to INR 4,142 for two (£20 a head) including beer to drink. Service was very attentive, if overly brisk. Plates were whisked away the instant that a fork was put down, even if the other diner was still eating, and waiters were overly anxious to serve extra spoonfuls of curry the moment that an opening appeared on the plate. The dishes were a touch erratic in standard but the best, such as the excellent murgh malai tikka and the dhal, were very good indeed. 

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