Tuesday, 25 July 2017

REVIEW: Calcutta Street, Brixton

The second venue from chef Shrimoyee Chakraborty, Calcutta Street in Brixton is a slightly tucked away spot yet in prime reach of the market. Taking inspiration from her mother's heritage and cooking expertise, Shrim has created the restaurant collective that celebrates the gastronomic explosions found in Calcutta. Influences range from nations as far afield as Turkey, France and the Netherlands as well as India, creating dishes that are all-at-once foreign and yet familiar.
With a focus on Bengali style home dining, the menu is relaxed, easy, filled with promise and yet not overly flowery. Come weekend brunch-tie, which is when we visited, there are none of the standard 'Indian' expectations (sorry vindaloo fans), but instead tiffins, kati rolls, parathas and sides like Calcutta-style shoestring fries. Flavours are vibrant, often overwhelming but in a good way - like the tangiest mustard dressing you've ever experience and heady cardamom pods in your chai. 

Speaking of, that's what we kicked off with - I sipped on Lebu Chaa (Darjeeling tea, lemon juice, black salt, ginger sugar), while Alex chose a classic black filter coffee. While we waited for our ordered starters, the chef delivered Beguni (sliced aubergine, fried in chickpea flour batter) to our table. Dotted with Nigella seeds and served with a cheek-sucking-in-sour mustard dressing, these soft pillows of veggie yumminess were a fabulous introduction to what was to follow. 
Next, our chosen starter of Corriander & Poppyseed Fritters (classic Bengali fritters) which were a touch dry but when paired with the sweet tomato sauce on the side were just perfect. I wonder if these were made with some of grain or seed as they had a quinoa-like texture. This paired with our smooth, creamy Aam Daal (tangy red lentils with green mango), was a match made in heaven. The difference in textures and complimentary flavours worked beautifully together. We also added, on recommendation, two glasses of Aam Pora - a summertime favourite with green mangoes, black salt, fresh mint, Fever-Tree soda (rum optional).
For the main event, Alex chose the Mughlai Paratha - crispy fried bread enhanced by a stuffing of minced lamb and egg. It's like a Calcutta version of a sandwich, chips and salad! The egg/lamb combination was rich in texture as well as flavour, with a genuine sweetness from the lamb. The spicing was also excellent and how that paratha didn't fall to pieces with the sheer amount of filling is beyond me. 
As we had come straight from an intense gym session, I chose the more protein-focused Dimer Bhurji - Calcutta style spiced scrambled eggs cooked with tomato and herbs, served
with rice, cucumber and smoked salmon. Those eggs were D R E A M Y. Creamy yet not, gorgeously spiced and yet definitive in egg-flavour, packed with veggies - just wonderful! Smoked salmon is smoked salmon but our waitress did run out and buy it especially for me - thanks! I found that I was comfortably full after this dish and the protein punch was just what I needed. I'd love to try recreate these flavours with a tofu scramble as I'm trying to limit my egg/dairy/fish intake to once a week. 
Calcutta Street suits its location in Brixton. It's the home of exciting world cuisines and Calcutta Street fits in just perfectly with it's globe-trotting flavours and Bengali-style hospitality. If you're looking for somewhere to have brunch with a difference, then this is your spot! 

Thank you Calcutta Street for hosting this review. All opinions, as always, are my own. 

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