Kolkata's Barf Soda Paani serves tacos with a Bengali twist and bantas with a dash of gin
There's a new place at Magma House Complex in Park Street, barely a couple of weeks old, which already has people talking about it. “Barf Soda Paani (BSP) is modelled to be your friendly neighbourhood bar,” says the owner of the Kolkata franchise, Anuraag Basotia. As we first step inside on a Friday afternoon for lunch, we smile to ourselves looking at the creative quotes and digital posters. “Life is Brewtiful,” says the first one, and we couldn’t wait to get our afternoon party started. “We wanted to steer clear of dated concepts to try something new and pragmatic,” says Abhimanyu Maheshwari, the owner of the chain, whose first outlet happens to be the one in Kolkata. As we waited for our first cocktail, we started with the BSP Peanut Platter, which offers four variants of sautéed peanuts — Thai, masala, fried and boiled. We loved the Thai one, which had the aroma of Kaffir Lime leaves, and lemongrass with a drizzle of mint mayo. That’s when our first drink, the Narangi Aam Soda, arrived on the table. Touted to be their bestseller, this one offers a potent mix of orange and mango juices with gin. Before you can sip on it, make sure you muster all your strength to push the marble at the bottle’s mouth, and release the fizz — quite dramatic, we must say.
Executive chef Paul Jonas Augustine has made sure that the short-eats are balanced on the flavour quotient. They aren’t inherently too spicy or tart, and go smoothly with the drinks. There’s a bit of fusion involved in the short-eats, take for instance their tacos, where the Mexican dish is served with a Bengali twist. “The Lucchi Muchi Taco has lucchi as the outer shell, topped with curd-based coleslaw and pickled salad,” explains Paul. Hence, if you have been missing the quintessential lucchi-mangsho or alu dum combination for brunch, you can order this dish and savour it with your favourite drink. We tried the Lucchi Pepper Fry taco, which was more spicy than we expected, and it was a good thing that we had our sweet Naarangi Aam Soda handy. After this fusion experiment, we opted for the Chicken Chilli Chicken Kulzza, a tasty combination of kulcha and pizza,stuffed with a double layer of chicken (hence the name).
This Indianised pizza has a handmade crust stuffed with chilli chicken, and is served with a cube of butter on top. We enjoyed this dish with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar drizzled lightly. If you’re feeling adventurous, then try the loaded potion called the BSP Special, comprising gin and white rum, topped with soda, fresh kaffir lime juice and lemon. Served in a long glass, garnished with a leaf of kaffir lime and a slice of lime, this cocktail reminds us of the classic Long Island Iced Tea. A word of caution though, this drink is best saved for Saturday nights!
Cocktails served on weekends.
Price for two: `1,200.