WoT's Hot

The Big Bong Tiramisu: @Afra Tafri, Kolkata’s New Gastro Brew Pub

Rita Bhimani

Kolkata is not standing stock still any more, when it comes to its culinary offerings. Almost every day, a new eatery is coming up in different parts of the city, springing in its wake a host of surprises in terms of food, décor and entertainment.

Providing a new-age drink and food experience, is Afra Tafri, Kolkata’s largest transitional gastro brew pub with a huge menu of global and Indian cuisine. It is right there in the absolute heart of the city, on Camac Street, bang opposite British Council, and opened its 12,000 square feet outlet with 180 covers on the 16th of March.

For us at WOT, it made immense gastronomic sense to have a quick chat up with celebrity chef and popular television host Ranveer Brar, who has co-curated this place. “Food flirts with your palate” are his opening lines, as we munch on delicately beer-batter fish and chops with minted green peas mash just like we remember it from our blighty trips. Other items like Shroomz Salt and Pepper which is crispy fried mushroom with Chinese five-spice and Akkad Bakkad Kukkad—tandoori chicken tikka with kachumber Brunoise also alight on the table.

He’s a Lucknow brat, who did his grassroots (read roadside) initiation with Munir Ustad, just doin’ chores like drying charcoal for nihari and grinding spices, as a teenager. In reality, he always had a passion for the culinary art something which perhaps was not initially welcomed by the family. But “Food gave me the reason, and the medium to rebel.” And so his long journey through IIHM began with him becoming Executive Chef at the Taj at 25 and going on to some top hotels. He has opened more than 20 restaurants and patisseries in India and other parts of the world. And his cooking is truly “instinctive and inspired.”

He’s created at Afra Tafri a massive range of over 100 dishes to choose from. When we ask about whether he has helmed a good Mulligatawny, he describes a sister dish which he prepares—a curried pumpkin and apple soup with crumbled gorgonzola and a hint of truffle.

We are also served some fanciful cocktails by Master Mixologist Shatbhi Basu and there is also the presence of celebrity brew master Ishan Grover who is behind the “freshly handcrafted beer.”

This is a joint initiative by Raajiv Nathany, Sandeep Goenka and Sachin Saraff, who are directors of Orange Food & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and who are trying to give Kolkata a new-age drink and food experience.

The place takes on different personalities by day and night, (natural light by day and a vintage yet contemporary style evening look) and there are three distinct spaces, a casual zone which allows for smoking, a large central bar space with a DJ console and a performance stage and seating, and a tasteful private area. Watch out for a wood-fired oven near the entrance.

It is an extensive menu—should take a person several visits to explore. A lot of Indian, much fusion, pastas and salads and soups and pizzas, baos and quesadillas, and calzones. Lots of desserts—the Big Bong Tiramisu being one such where a creamy chocolate kanchagolla flirts with a baked gur crumble. Or a Desi Babu English Mem, where a gulab jamun marries a classic cheese cake, topped with Roohafza foam.

For those looking for a fancy gourmet restaurant in Mumbai, there’s Ranveer Brar’s GourmART, which is totally vegetarian and extremely arty. Or read his book “Come into My Kitchen.” This charming and personable Brar is now all set to open Mayura in Canada.  Good thing that we have had the benefit of his expertise right here in Kolkata.