Authentic Indian Cuisine with a Cosy Ambience

In Restaurant Reviews on 28 April 2010 at 16:07

Discover how when dining at Kolkata, small can be beautiful

When KOLKATA became the newest restaurant to grace the streets of Newport Pagnell it was a bold move by owner, Suhel, to establish a relaxed, more refined form of Indian dining in an area alive with competition. With only four tables, the restaurant is compact but this creates an air of seclusion and informality that is hard to beat. Suhel has already attracted many of the regulars that dined at his previous restaurant and the comments in the guest book are testimony to the service and exceptional food quality. The owner is also keen to share his experience and readily passes on tips on how customers can cook perfect pilau rice to recreate Indian culinary arts themselves. There is an air of friendliness about the place, and during this age of uncertainty small has become beautiful. There can be nothing quite as disconcerting than to be the only customer in a larger, empty restaurant that lacks warmth, but at Kolkata the ambience provides a certain charm and intimacy that is most welcoming; almost like dining at home but without the hassle.

At first I was concerned to discover that Kolkata serves no alcohol. But, when you think about it, Suhel has used this to his advantage. Diners are openly encouraged to bring their own booze, thus saving a packet by not having to pay the outrageous mark-ups charged by many restaurants on even the most basic bottle of plonk. The policy makes perfect sense because diners know they are not going to be tempted in by food at very reasonable prices and then be faced with a bill that is twice, three times what they expected after they have indulged in a drink or three. With money tight, this philosophy can make the difference between dining out or eating at home and by allowing customers to take advantage of bringing their own super-market priced beverages might be seen as a master-stroke that encourages customers to return, more especially when Suhel refuses to charge corkage. Nothing can surely be farer than that?

The restaurant opened in February and its bistro style and superior quality freshly cooked food from the various culinary regions of the Indian sub-continent provides diners with an enjoyable experience at a very affordable price. Good food can be nothing if the right ambience is lacking, but the Kolkata delivers on all counts. The dining area might be small, but it is attractively decorated with clean white walls balanced by the deep blue of the chairs and crisp table cloths to form a fresh and airy space that is extremely pleasant and comfortable.

Milton Keynes and the surrounding towns are blessed with an abundance of Indian eateries; many of them exceptionally good. But when it comes to curries you will know that to win the taste test it has to rely on a perfect blend of fresh spices, high quality ingredients, a highly experience chef and above all, the texture and consistency of the sauce. Some restaurants disappoint by failing to get one or more of the fundamentals right resulting in a curry that is lacking in content or worse, one that is swimming in ghee. There is nothing more disappointing than a bad a curry and the cause can often be attributed to a chef trying to cater for too many people at one time. This is not so at the Kolkata where everything is freshly prepared and cooked to perfection by experienced chefs who produce food that is exceptional.

I no longer eat as much Indian food as I once did. My enjoyment has been damaged by too many mediocre meals that have failed to excite in restaurants that tried to cater for too many, too quickly. But, that my faith has been restored by my first meal at Kolkata. After my wife and I had dined heartily on tandoori mixed starters that included duck, lamb chops, sheek kebab and chicken, there was hardly room for our main courses. I enjoyed my Chicken Tikka Rogan Josh enormously and when I confessed to Suhel that it was the best I had ever tasted …I meant every word I said. My wife (who does not normally share a passion for Indian food) was equally enthralled by the Prawn Biryani, that was dry, well spiced and thoroughly enjoyable and was served with a rich, fresh vegetable curry.

With excellent food quality, the Kolkata offers exceptional value for money. The restaurant is sure to become extremely popular and in recommending this restaurant I must also suggest that you book your table in advance. With such limited seating; if you are disappointed by being unable to get a table, you can always take advantage of the restaurant’s express takeaway service which currently is offering three meals for the price of two

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