This Kolkata cafe is run by a Le Corden Bleu chef who offers Italian dishes with desi ingredients
It is easy to miss the plain and no frills entrance of this 25-seater café – but for their Victorian nameplate, with ornate black iron railings and a whiteboard signage. The interiors are surprisingly dark, with black walls - but if you are looking for a quiet place to share a meal with a friend, with soft music playing in the background, To Die For is perfect.
Located on Manoharpukur Road, this space which is owned by 23-year-old Shashvat Dhandhania, who ventured into the hospitality industry two years ago— specialises in Italian cuisine.
Shashvat started cooking when he was eight. Though he went to pursue History and Finance at Tufts University, Boston, he soon found that his heart lay in cooking. Led by the call of the heart, he pursued culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu, London, finishing the course before time. “I opened this place as a test kitchen in 2016. I used to have some bakery racks here with just four tables. There used to be a long queue outside the shop and so we decided to expand the café in November 2016 and included a few savouries in the menu," he recollects.There is also a story behind how the place got such a unique name. "It was a compliment given to me by my uncle on one of the occasions when I baked for the family," he smiles.
The young entrepreneur is not just passionate about cooking but also reads up on famous chefs like Massimo Bottura, Daniel Humm, and Dominique Crenn.Offering a menu comprising, Black Rice Risotto, Beetroot Salad, Pumpkin Ravioli, Spaghetti with mixed Green Pesto and Artichokes, Asparagus and Bluecheese Risotto.
Shashvat deftly adapts the Italian and European dishes to the Indian vegetarian palate by using vegetables, cereals, rice noodles and methods of cooking like smoking and curing, using lesser spices, to retain their flavour. We tried flavoured water with orange and mint, that was refreshing, followed by a piping hot Fettuccine with garlic, basil and chilli. Served with confit cherry tomatoes and an eggplant pate, the balsamic cream added a sweet and smooth texture to the hot and spicy dish.
The dessert, Dark Chocolate Mousse, served with a poached pear and a homemade biscuit stood out for retaining the distinct taste of chocolate and the fruit. It was one of the popular items on the menu, besides Vanilla Bean and Panna Cotta.
The young entrepreneur wants to keep it simple for the future. “I am happy cooking and I want people to enjoy the food”. But there are some ideas he wants to experiment with. “I want to experiment with a setting- where you turn eating out into a complete experience with light, music, artwork and a ten-course meal,” says the Ratatouille fan.
Price for two: Rs 1,400 (approx)