Kolkata's latest rooftop lounge Skai offers a great ambience and good food
Dropping by at the spanking new Skai lounge on an unseasonably balmy Monday evening was a pleasure for us on several counts. Unlike most overwrought outdoor spaces in the city, the new rooftop restaurant and premium lounge, situated at the sixth floor of Quest Mall, offers much more than just a panoramic view, and none of the usual jumpy gastropub lighting. In fact, Skai is perhaps one of the most exceptionally lit spaces in Kolkata — perfect for quiet drinkers, or overworked millennials looking for conversation over something gin-baked.
Designed by architects Avni Deshpande and Komeil Mukhi, this 4,000 sq ft 120-seater space in Park Circus has a stunning tonal consistency, lined with turquoise, aqua and rose gold accents, relaxed pendant lights suspended from wood-panelled ceilings, and monochrome artwork. In essence, you get a refreshingly nouveau set-up that can dilute your weeknight stress and deadline woes. Also, High, Float, Soar, Glide, Fly Solo are some of the very telling sections on their impressive menu, which boasts of an exclusive gourmet platter.
“Everything you see on the menu is exclusive to Skai — you will not find these anywhere else in the city. It’s also quite extensive, and curated along international palates. You’ll see Asian-inspired and Mexican dishes in the High category. Soar is all about new-age experimental dishes like shrimp noodles and truffle-scented edamame mousse, whereas Float offers small plates that will tide your appetite for a while,” adds Niyati Parekh, who conceptualised the diner.
The word ‘Skai’, we learnt, combines ‘sky’ & ‘kai’, the latter meaning food in Maori. The menu at Skai is a delightful assortment of unpredictable and diverse pairings. Be it confit lamb sloppy Joe profiterole or some jalapeño brie pops, Skai serves up a lot of firsts, in terms of taste and culinary spectacle. As we spoke, we were joined by Skai’s mixologist Myles Carroll, who has brought in a number of Indian influences to his curation of cocktails. “I wanted to use indigenous ingredients to create some simple flavours like a masala infused bourbon, or a Skai Collins, made with gandharaj lime, gin, salt lime cordial, cucumber and soda. We don’t use any bottled or canned syrups or juices, it’s all freshly made,” Myles tells us. He then proceeded to make us his signature Skai Collins, marked by a sharp, elevated taste and packed with a punchy gandharaj zest; you can surprisingly taste all ingredients involved, from the gin to the limes, and even the sliced-up cucumber along the sides of your highball glass.
Next up was the Milky Way, created along the lines of a chilled dessert cocktail, made with familiar homegrown items like cardamom and saffron, blended smoothly with some rum and cream. You can taste the fantastic rum highlights cutting through the other ingredients. As we pondered over second helpings, an array of exquisitely Instagram-worthy appetisers started pouring in. First in line were the jalapeño brie pops garnished with candy floss and chilli oil, served on a literal miniature garden. As the cheese pops in your mouth, and you taste the candy floss, you realise how uncharacteristic and splendid this culinary ensemble is.
The pink peppercorn and garlic malai chicken served with poppy sable and coconut saffron cream is an adventurous kebab alternative, and comfortably creamy. The activated charcoal coca is paired with generous portions of avocado, bocconcini, micro greens and basil dust; it’s a flavourful Mediterranean-inspired hors d’oeuvre, which is said to pair well with some non-fruity red wine.
Our favourite pick of the night was definitely the spring vegetable Malay curry with Pandan black rice cakes — a summery plate of delicious creamy vegetables and lightly seasoned rice. The coming together of black rice and a light creamy gravy is experimental Asian cuisine at its best. It was served alongside an exquisitely plated pistachio-crusted lamb chop with mushroom and chestnut millefeuille, smoked rukola and lavender jus.
Interesting fact: a mille-feuille is a French custard slice usually made with vanilla, but this cheeky savoury revamp is really impressive. A tip for eating the lamb chop? Take in all of the flavours, including the lavender jus, all at once — to get a complete feel of the actual recipe.
Price for two: Rs 2,000 approx