For all those visiting Kolkata, if breakfast means Flury’s, it is time you gave it a serious re-think.
Raj’s Spanish Cafe, near the Fire Brigade building in the New Market area, is in a league of its own and a must visit. It has been there for a while and is very popular with foreign tourists. I have heard of the place a lot but went there only last Sunday. And realised what I have been missing all these days!
The approach to the cafe is not very attractive, you enter through a gate into a shabby complex and find your way to the cafe which is non-air-conditioned and looks like a warehouse with a kitchen that is visible and a lot of customer graffiti on the wall, mostly by people from all across the world, who have visited the cafe and loved the experience. One of it read, “Best pizza after my honeymoon ‘ and that said a lot. And this!
The menu that has Spanish, Italian and Mexican dishes, plus breakfast and dessert options is exhaustive, plus there is a separate pizza menu. We are used to pizzas and pastas and also to Mexican dishes but many of the Spanish dishes were new to me.
We ordered a lot of food and the usual fresh lime soda and coffee, and here is a quick roundup of the dishes that, well, stole my heart. A word of apology for the vegetarians, there were a lot of vegetarian options but I did not try any, except one.
We started with the Espinacas Salteadas, which is basically fried spinach with garlic and fried seafood and served with a piece of bread. It tasted great; the fresh spinach was crispy and made a good combination with the sautéed prawns and the squid rings that was placed on a bed of sauce that went perfectly with a bite of the soft bread.
The Pollo Asado con puree de patata, the dish of the day, was next. Pollo in Spanish means chicken, asado means grilled, patata means potato and puree means mashed. So the dish comprised of mashed potatoes cooked in butter and chicken grilled in what I suspect is barbeque sauce. It was a case of starting with the fork and the knives and then swiftly moving to using the hands, so juicy and tasty was the chicken.
The Gambas Al Ajilo ( Shrimp or Gambas in garlic or ajilo, fried in olive oil) , also a Spanish dish, was delectable. The prawn sticks were juicy and it was a slight mess to eat it, as it came in its shell but we were too busy in eating and did not mind.
The Lasagna de verduras or baked pasta with veggies and lots of cheese, actually had lots of cheesy sheets and the subtle nuance of the herbs and the taste of veggies. Well made, no doubt.
Next came the Chicken Stroganoff, originally a Russian dish but made Italian with pasta , tomato, garlic and parsley. It was savoury, but we felt the stew might have been a tad bit richer, though this one is a matter of personal taste.
We tasted a couple of other things too, but I will come to the desserts. The Nutella Pancake was sinfully delicious and the Soufle di cioccolato , was true to its name , chocolate truffle served with vanialla ice-cream. We ordered cafe latte and me who believes that you can judge a place by how they make their coffee was not disappointed. The staff were very friendly and talkative too.
We left the cafe, full and happy but we knew we would have to come back very soon to taste things on the menu that still remained un-tasted . Another thing, after a visit to this cafe, Raj will make you think of this place too apart from SRK in DDLJ!