A RESTAURANT PREVIEW

An engraved letter was lying at my desk at home all week. It finally forced me to open it.

Dear Doc Rambo,
We could not help noticing that since the time you attempted to become a famoush blogger, you became a famished one. As this is the season of good will and that kind of popular shit, we have the pleasure of feeding you if you can drag your sorry ass to our new restaurant at Silver Spring, Kolkata within the next two weeks.
Regards,
Manager,
Sigree

Well, a slight exaggeration, actually. It sort of said (if memory serves me right):

Dear Doc Rambo,
We recently analysed the last Census results to form a data base for our new restaurant in Silver Spring, Kolkata, and noted with pleasure that your name figures first among the select list of Indians whose tongue-tips can reach their elbows. Sir, we would be privileged to have you at our new restaurant within the next two weeks, as we are unable to think of more practical ways to check the culinary skills of our new chef,whom we are paying enough for him to consider bonking Paris Hilton.
Regards,
Manager,
Sigree

So, when informed that tonight’s dinner at home (dal, roti, sabzi, dahi) was refused even by the alley cat, I decided to venture out to Sigree.
Located at the mall in Silver Spring (a swanky new condo complex near the ITC Sheraton Hotel), Sigree, for some reason, looked like a brand new restaurant.

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We (wife, kid and blogdoc) were welcomed so profusely that the last named got nervous. Are we the only family they have managed to coax entry into their restaurant, I wondered.
The ambience was warm and unpretentious. There were certain murals and jug-like structures on the walls that I couldn’t describe or name. If I could, I would have been writing for the New York Times, rather than being stuck in Blogsville, writing anonymous posts for you stinkers wonderful people.

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The restaurant manager, Debdatta, came up to us and explained that they were going to Beta test their cuisine prior to the opening in mid-January ’08 and would appreciate our comments on the food.

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They started off with a few starters.
Among the vegetarian starters, we had:
Dilli Wali Tikki (a large blob of potato pastry with chickpeas, onions, masala and a bit of sauce).
Hare Masale ki Paneer (cottage cheese kababs in green herb gravy).
Chutney Wali Makai (a sheekh kabab made out of blended vegetables and pulses, mildly spiced).
Multani Chat (fried sliced baby potatoes in a piquant sweet red sauce spiced with ginger).
(Notice how professional I sound? Piquant indeed!)
Kurkure Bhendi (thinly julienned okra in light batter, fried and lightly spiced).

The non-vegetarian starters were:
Gosht Sheekh (mutton kabab).
Murg Chandni Tikka (ginger-garlic flavored white chicken kabab).
Murg Kandahari Tikka (spicy chicken tikka kabab).
Bhuna Methi Tikka (bhetki fish kabab with fenugreek).

All of these were superb, save that the Chicken kababs were not really the kind I like (chandni tikka: a bit too garlicky, and kandahari tikka suffocated by spices). In particular, the okra was mind-blowing.
After all these were demolished, mostly by the hungry laborer who had been operating since 7 in the morning, I told my wife, “Let us not sit around any more. Let us leave before they bid us goodbye, please come again!”
As if they had heard me, a troupe of waiters came in with the main courses.
A point of digression. The proper collective noun I should have used is ‘an indifference’ or ‘an absence’ of waiters. However, the waiters today were devoutly solicitous, almost as if I was their son-in-law-married-to-ugly-daughter come to visit. No absence, and no indifference.

Main course:

Amritsari Kulcha (tomb-shaped soft breads stuffed with pomegranate, mashed potatoes, onions and a touch of red chilli pepper).
Butter Nans/Baby Nans/Ajwaini Rotis.
Yellow Masala Dal (with a slightly burnt garlic flavor).
Gosht Chilman Biryani (mutton chunks in spiced Basmati rice, sealed in dough and cooked in a tandoor).
Sabz Dum Handi (fresh veggies in a mild green sauce).
Murg Shiroudi Masala (Chicken in red sauce spiked with black pepper).
Chaap-e-Baluchistan (Rogan Josh by another name).

In short, the chaap was the best I have ever had, and the Chicken Shiroudi packed quite a bit of flavor, too. The others were all very stimulating, with the Amritsari Kulcha getting my gourmet vote.

At dessert time, the Firni captured the flavor well, but was a bit too sweet. I was too sated to really enjoy the Shahi Tukda, which turned to something like Farex in my tired mouth. Good, actually, because I heard a female voice (probably belonging to my wife) saying, “I will never come to a restaurant with such shameless gluttons. Ever!”. I thought she was talking of others, but there were no others in the restaurant at that time. Odd, that.

By the time of the dessert, the others had long given up on food, and were desperately searching for a place they could lie horizontally over.
They wrote profuse eulogies in the comment sheets, while I rolled out on all fours, ready for the drive back home.

Being an astute surgeon, I realised the reason this insane assault on the body’s system with so much of food did not cause any feeling of sickness. I could see the parietal cells of my stomach lining frantically secrete acid to digest the initial starters, and then slow down, finally collapsing under the onslaught, limply secreting H2O instead of HCl.

If you are the numerology sort, here is a rating (out of 10).
Food: 9
Decor: 5
Service: 10
Hospitality: 10
Price: 10
(complimentary for us)

(Pedantic note for the greedy visitor from Googledom: Sigree is part of the Mainland China group of restaurants. This is a 168 seater restaurant, and has been preceded by others in Pune and Chennai. Bangalore and South City, Kolkata, are the next sites to open soon. Its chef is Sandeep Pandey, formerly of Gucchi of the Hyatt Regency, Kolkata).

(Pictures mine. Once the food came, somehow, we forgot to take pictures.)

19 responses to “A RESTAURANT PREVIEW

  1. Doc,

    So Kolkata has joined the bandwagon — fine dining can only be from Awadh/Punjab/NWFP. I recalled your standing invitation to treat me whenever I am next in Kolkata. I hope that does not include Sigree.

    Incidentally, isn’t Mainland China the setup whose ad on TV is about the noble profession of advertising and how it goes about its work (?) in the hedonistic surroundings of a Chinese restaurant that no Chinese worth his salt would care to be seen dead in?

  2. Vivek,
    Really did not get an idea of what you were saying. NW Frontier cuisine has been here for long: we have Zaraanj, now a shadow if its past self. Peshawari at ITC, which is awesome both in taste and pricing.
    I don’t watch TV, so I have no idea of what you are saying. Maybe someone will pitch in? In this festival season, there are few ‘commenters’ here, so maybe not!
    And, yes, my offer to treat you stands erect. I mean, my offer stands. Under stand?

  3. Doc,

    Sorry, I was just indulging in two of my pet peeves — [1] North India as the essence of India (especially the Bongs falling in line with that belief) and [2] ads (particularly on TV). Am happy to know you don’t watch TV. I, for reasons explained elsewhere, sometimes do (by my standards ‘often’).

    Sure NWF cuisine, like Avadhi and Punjabi, has been around for long and, like any cuisine anywhere, is good when prepared by good cooks. But I am always saddened when in the “Madrasi” parts of India it takes precedence over local cuisines in restaurant menus and parties (inclusing those thrown by various state departments of culture and tourism). OK in a specialty restaurant or a theme party, but not as a norm.

    PS: In case you have not been following all my fire and brimstone on Nita’s blog, “Madrasi” means everyone outside the cultural locus of the cow-belt.

  4. PPS: Thanks for reiterating your offer. I appreciate the uprightness.

  5. I like the way you tackled this review. Witty, interesting to read and very clear.

  6. Thanks, Nita and Vivek.

  7. I agree with Nita: It was a pleasure to read your review, Rambodoc. The only oddity was it made we very strongly want to try the restaurant — but that would involve a wee bit of travel.

  8. Paul,
    You take care of the travel, and I’ll take care of the food.

  9. Slaver…. The Bangalore sigree is nice too, though I’d have preferred a free version.

    Thanks for the nice review. Must eat now. Must. must. Nohthern Injun (to quote my grandmother) food is the only thing my family will devour outside home with gusto.

  10. Delicious review. I was drooling all the way to the end of the post and the only thing I couldn’t stomach was that all this was for free! hm, could you let me in on the secret of how I could motivate the Mainland China guys around here to do the same for me? Could I wear a tee shirt that says Rambodoc club or some such?

  11. Dude: what is a slaver, and in which of the several languages you speak/write?
    Usha: Welcome! Secret? Hmmn… maybe you could start spending your retirement funds on eating out till the market thinks you have more money to spend on it, not knowing you have eaten yourself to bankruptcy?! :-)

  12. Doc,

    Isn’t “slaver” the word used for the galleys that used to transport slaves from W. Africa to the New World? Could also be a slave trader.

    How and why you qualify for the appellation beats me, though. :-)

    There must be a good reason though, because I do occasionally visit bikerdude’s blog and

    His way with things verbal
    Is sure polyglossal
    And truly collossal;
    It’s not worth dismissal

  13. You ate all that? The restaurant probably needs no more reviews since you appear to have sampled the entire menu ;-)

  14. Vivek Khadpekar

    Shefaly,

    I beg to differ. If doc has indeed sampled the entire menu, what they’ll do is to reprint it with new names for all the items, jack up the prices, and get a new reviewer (maybe three or four) who, in addition to the free dinner, will also get paid.

    At least that’s how I believe free market forces work.

  15. Vivek,
    Sorry for not replying earlier.
    Yes, what you say has some truth in it, but is, by no means, universal. Not only that, giving a spin to existing services/products to generate profits is only one of the market’s qualities. It also innovates, creates, and improvises…..

  16. Your review on the food will give Nandan Bagchi a run for his money . The pun & mouth watering description has kept me salivating .Plan to visit the joint soon ………..will certainly communicate the magic of your blog for my presence at their eatery .

  17. Could you throw some light on prices for people who don’t belong to the league of RamboDoc.

    Another query:

    Have you tried Kaafila at City Centre? I tried Orko’s & Caught n Bowled (doesn’t it sound like Cotton Ball??). Frankly, I think none of them offer value for money ( that too exorbitant ).

    So somewhat deducing, I think Kaafila won’t be able to offer much. But the pictures of food items were quite tempting in TOI’s Whats Hot.

    Please guide.

    Regards

  18. Sisyphus:
    Kaafila is awful. Total waste of time and money.
    Try the Sigree South City lunch buffets. The biryani alone is worth the price. You could also try the food at Charcoal on Purna Das Road. Reasonably priced and good biryani. The rest is so-so to mediocre. However, Indian restaurants are notoriously inconsistent, and “results may vary”, as plastic surgeons say.

  19. Nice info… Even I enjoyed their food during my last visit to Kolkata. Being a complete foodie I feel that Sigree must also open up a buffet service so that more and more customers can relish their food once in a while.

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