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Mughlai cuisine you can't miss!

Soumyanshu Bhattacharya | March 01, 2006

We continue our reader-driven series on great restaurants and eating places across the country. 

Soumyanshu Bhattacharya's dream is to one day have enough money to sample cuisines from across the world. He recommends the Marble Room in Kolkota for good Mughlai cuisine.

Though I was born, brought up, taught and professionally crafted in the holy city of foods, I almost missed Marble Room, a place I initially grudgingly visited with a friend when I was a student at IIM-Calcutta.

imageI was supposed to treat him with the meagre money I was earning as a summer intern at Price Waterhouse Coopers. As it is, I am a food connoisseur, or so I like to think, and was spending all my money on sampling expensive food options around the city. The prospect of spending some of this money on a treat was not a soothing idea (selfish, I admit, but everything is fair in food and war).
Marble Room is rather limited in its visibility; it is located in a small narrow lane (Little Russell Street, off Park Street, is a dark and a not-so-trodden path). People hunting various places around Park Street would mostly miss it. Only the residents of Kenilworth Hotel would get lucky, if they want, I presume.
We decided to visit Marble Room on a sweaty, hot Calcutta summer night. The inspiration came primarily because it was a new place and I like trying out new places.

The restaurant, as we perceived it, was almost colonial in appearance. British-style wooden chairs, big mirrors, dim yellow lights, a predominance of red against yellow described the general ambience. And yet, it seemed shrouded in secrecy -- a sinuous path that bypasses the hotel's nightclub and a rather deserted field led to the restaurant.
The first thing that struck me once I was inside was the cordiality of the people who served here. I tend to subconsciously compare every restaurant I have visited since then with the service I encountered at Marble Room. To date, no restaurant -- and I have visited some of the best -- have matched it.
Coming to the most important stuff -- food and the menu. The menu was dominated by Mughlai cuisine and the food was awesome.

We started with some very nice kebabs and found them pretty innovative too. We gave high marks to the brilliantly flavoured chicken pieces sprinkled with yellow rice.

The chicken leg kebab had amazingly yummy coating, made mainly of curd. We were two people and the dish came with three pieces. I was pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of the waiters, who divided the last leg piece into equal halves when they spotted us trying to avoid fighting over it. Nice gesture!
The Biryani was superb, and so was the Bhuna Gosht. But, the next time I go there, all I am going to eat is the Special Paratha; 'out of the world' falls slightly short of describing how it tastes.
We tried the desserts too, but I won't be able to recommend any primarily because:

a. We were too full, so the taste didn't register well enough.

b. There was a disappointing selection-- just gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa.
The best thing about the place is its innovative Mughlai cuisine. It is not run-of-mill, either in name, look, taste or presentation. So, if you are a hardcore non-vegetarian, and think that you have tried all possible varieties of Mughlai cuisine, Marble Room may have some nice surprises in store for you. This, by the way, is not exactly a place to recommend to vegetarians. But, then again, since I am a non-vegetarian, I did not devote too much attention to that part of the menu.
Marble Room is undoubtedly expensive. About a year ago, the meal (we did splurge a lot) cost us about Rs 1,200 for two. I presume the bill would be more in the range of Rs 800 for two people, if they are aware of their appetite and don't just get swayed by the taste.
Unfortunately, I am not located in Kolkata any more, and visiting favourite restaurants within the few days I go there is tough. But Marble Room is one place I would definitely return to, whenever I get adequate time.
Marble Room
Kenilworth Hotel
1 & 2 Little Russel Street
Kolkata -- 700 071

Phone: (033) 2282 3939/ 40

Soumyanshu Bhattacharya, 25, an ex-student of IIT-Karagpur and IIM-Calcutta, currently works with an equity research firm in Mumbai.

Do you have a favourite restaurant/cuisine? Have you sampled the latest eating haunt on the block?

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