Trattoria-style Kolkata diner To Die For is plating the most divine gastronomic adventures
“This pumpkin ravioli could be on my grave when I die,” Le Cordon Bleu graduate Shashwat Dhandhania tells us, as we sit down for lunch at his trattoria-style Ballygunge eatery To Die For. The ravioli in question is a recipe which the young chef has fine-tuned over the years and justifiably deserves to be his signature. A fastidiously curated stuffing enveloped in a semi-pillowy pasta with measured hints of lemon, the ravioli was in a word, dreamy. The entree and in fact, the entire menu, has an incredible farm-to-table vibe - the fresh pumpkin seeds on the pasta and the heady balsamic notes from the Melon Avocado Jalapeno Salad, agreed with us.
The popular all-vegetarian diner just shifted base from Hazra to a more centrally accessible location, and even got a European revamp when it comes to the set-up. We walked up to the 1,800 square feet glass-ceilinged space on a semi-cloudy afternoon to discover a breathy uptown-meets-rustic interior, complete with mid-century detailing and a rested, inviting colour tone.
“If you notice, there are very few colours here, they are from the same palette but have different tones; it’s minimal but there are subtle references to food. We started with tasting menus because I think that’s the kind of food I want to be cooking; we are always open to listening to what people want. I also want to learn about the kind of experiments people are ready to make. When we opened up in Hazra, it originally started up as a kitchen, but people were really happy with our food so it evolved into a cafe-cum-restaurant, it’s been an incredible journey. Now we can actually cook something fancier and adventurous,” Shashwat tells us.
A glass of Orange Basil Mojito arrived just in time to accompany our fresh Mediterranean salad and a fantastic couscous entree. One of the most exceptional things on our table was the Fondant Tourne Potatoes with Mixed Mushrooms; interestingly, a tournee is one of the trickiest French delicacies and you would only ever want it if it’s made right. To Die For’s fondant version gives the recipe an elevated edge as it brings in intensely flavoured mushrooms into the mix, which really makes it a great palate opener.
The Eggplant Fettuccine is easily one of the best dishes on the eatery’s menu, and is on all counts a sensory experience, as you’d want to take in every aspect of this flawless pasta. We’ve had enough lazily made eggplant entrees to know when a dish has been painfully curated to actually bring out the best in all the ingredients. The fettucine was delightfully experimental in its flavour and it married a traditional creaminess with the salty edge of the eggplant to give it more evenness.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the desserts you’ll find on the menu - To Die For is essentially a dessert haven where you’ll discover some of the boldest experimental numbers in the city. Our first choice was of course, the Panna Cotta, which a yardstick in so many ways. To Die For’s version serves the aromatized wobbly favourite with a cheeky orange chilly sauce. Everything from the chocolate sponge cake to the Beetroot cake with olive oil ice cream and yoghurt foam, is a lesson in culinary adventure and have a remarkable flavour profile. Some of the desserts which you must give a chance are Apple Cake and Baked Cheesecake. Price for Two: Rs 1,000.