Calcutta Street (CLOSED)
Time Out says
Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.
A Calcutta-inspired pop-up turns permanent in Fitzrovia.
Please note, Calcutta Street has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2019.
Old-school curry houses might be closing faster than you can say ‘chicken tikka masala’, but there’s no need to get misty-eyed over their departure. A new wave of Indian restaurants (see Dishoom, Gunpowder, Kricket) is now turning out full-throttle cooking that’s much more faithful to tradition than your average local cuzza.
Though Fitzrovia newcomer Calcutta Street is riding this wave – after all, it came into being via a blog and pop-up – it beats with the heart of Calcutta-born owner Shrim Chakraborty’s Bengali home. Chirpy, knowledgeable young staff and a Calcutta-inspired soundtrack blend with the soulful nostalgia of the place. Tables in the small ground floor dining room are packed tightly, so you can happily splatter your neighbours with sauce as you grapple with crab curry beneath a ceiling adorned with haath pakha (bamboo fans).
Skip the street food snacks: beguni aubergine fritters were lacking and the tamarind and mint water supplied to fill the crisp shells of our phuchka was served fridge cold. Instead, cover your tiny table with hearty, spice-fuelled mains, for it’s in home-style dishes that Calcutta Street really delivers. Bengali cooks are famously resourceful, so an ordinary-looking bowl of root veg becomes a fine, fragrant panch mishali tarkari with the addition of coconut, fresh tomato and panch phoran (Bengal’s traditional five-spice mix). The prawn malai kari, with its trio of whole tiger prawns in a coconut, coriander and green chilli sauce, on the other hand, was a showstopper from the off, bristling with fresh spice.
I’d also go back for the kosha mangsho, a traditional mutton curry here made with lamb, unashamedly spicy but bursting with aromas and a depth of flavour that can only develop from slow cooking on the bone. Don’t like bones in your curry? Get used to it. This is the new-old Indian, people.