Canteen Pub and Grub, Kolkata is acing smart pubbing with quirky bar nibbles and impeccable food styling
Kolkata is trying its hardest to bring back the themed pubbing experience. And this could help the straggling nightlife scene in the city, considering how much it takes to get people to step out today. The newest hotspot in the city is Canteen Pub and Grub, it’s located at City Centre 1 and it’s essentially trying to put authentic, snazzy spins on familiar items from our school/college canteen days. So, expect elaborate and really well-styled renditions of popular picks like bread pakoda, Chicken 665, Fatafat Fryums.
But the set-up has been designed with a distinct after-hours vibe - there’s quite a bit of indoor foliage, with customised green walls, lines of potted plants around the tables - perhaps to add to the retro mid-eighties feel. The walls have mid-century wildflower papers, interesting music-themed posters, and a cool, winding staircase leading up to a smoking room, which is the most Instagram-worthy spot in the gastropub.
“The decor is not exactly in sync with the college canteen obviously but it’s styled to take you back to the good old days. The vibe, the set-up, the food and even the bar, are designed to take you back to your memories. There are elements which anyone will recognise, especially since we have so many millennials coming in who are loving the space,” shares Swastik Nag, the owner of Canteen.
There’s a fantastic high-walled, unconventionally lit bar that's serving some fresh mixes. Each cocktail has been designed with a tinge of nostalgia, like the Honey Singh, who was a hit with school DJ nights. At Canteen it’s the name of a zesty whiskey-based icy cocktail with notes of cinnamon, honey, green apple and lime and is served in a chic bamboo glass. Some of the big hits at our lunch table was the Green Lady, a breathy tropical mocktail and the shots, specifically the Kalkatta Kalakhatta and the Apun Ka Mango Bite that comes with a side of the candy.
Coming to the food, which is by all means, the biggest draw for the place because it takes the concept of wholesome binging to a very interesting level. Most of the items on our table were really shareable and smartly portioned. The Non Vegetarian Combo, for instance, features well-spiced numbers like Chicken 665, Kolkata Ka Dry Chilli Chicken and Kolhapuri Tikka definitely (keep an eye out for the tikka, it has a flawless finish) , which are great for passing around over cocktails. They even arrived in fun tiffin containers. The Andra Pepper Mutton features tender, spice-roasted meat and the bread pakora is delightful with its cheesy garnish.
But don’t be fooled by Canteen’s effortless easy appetisers because there are quite a few elaborate mains like Kerala Prawn Curry with Lemon Rice featuring tiger prawns cooked in mildly spicy coconut base and Pan Grilled Cottage Cheese with Kabsa Rice. But perhaps the champion of the mains section is the sophisticated Peri Peri fish entree cooked in malta cream sauce, which features a creamy, well-cut grilled bhetki topped with malta orange sauce, and is served with a side of mash and greens. It has a spruced up, uncluttered creaminess, and the subtle tarty finish of the sauce is perfect. Hot tip: Don’t miss out on desserts at Canteen, as you get some great fusion options like Mishti Doi Cheesecake and Apple Malpua with Shahi Rabdi.