The Heritage Bar & Restaurants of Kolkata

“Let’s go to Kolkata this weekend” he said. And as always I replied, “Yes! Let’s go!”

However, it would never work out. Finally, after years of dubious planning, my brother and I, found ourselves in Howrah Rajdhani, heading back to ‘The City of Joy’.

We both have stayed in Kolkata as students and share a bond with the city, that no one in our family can comprehend (I believe so can’t I).

And I truly feel blessed having stayed in Kolkata and for that matter, even other parts of the country. Though I’ve stayed majorly in Delhi, I feel some of my greatest learnings of life has come from Kolkata. It’s one city, which is graciously liberal, laid back and rich in culture. Unlike Delhi, in Kolkata the servers don’t bat an eyelid before handing over the “Bar Menu”, even to me. I love the Bar & Restaurant culture of Kolkata, they truly know how to enjoy their drink and time. It’s the city, where you can become friends with the staff and be assured, that you will meet them at the same restaurants even years later.

Although the food on the train was insipid, but we eagerly looked forward to visiting our favourite hangouts and eateries of Kolkata and relishing the most amazing delicacies. After a 17 hours long journey, we reached Howrah.

The sight of Howrah Bridge, Ganges and the smell of fish instantly made me realise that nothing’s changed. Well, except the pavements and grills on the roads, which have been painted ‘blue’. However, a dialogue exchange with the cabbie assured me that things have hardly changed in the city. That’s Kolkata for you – the city possesses the superpower to take you back in time.

So this time around, I decided to revisit all those legendary places that are a part of every Bengali’s (or anyone who’s lived on Kolkata) life. Here’s to the wonderful cheap watering holes of Kolkata:

  • Moulin Rouge

India’s one and only Moulin Rouge is located at Park Street in Kolkata. Hugely popular during the 60’s for the famous French Singer Delilah and cabaret can-can dancers. However, now all we get to see are the remnants of a very colourful bygone era. The murals of Paris city and the dancers, have faded now but still hang there. Beer offers and cheap liquor is what attracts people now, to walk into the restaurant. Known for serving great sizzlers, this place also has live gigs by local artists. I felt amused when the steward (an old man, working there for the last 30 years) was disappointed with me, for not repeating my drink. He told me to come back soon and try the cranberry cocktail they serve during evenings. As I said earlier, this sort of candidness is what I have never experienced in Delhi.

Address: 31, Park Street Area, Kolkata
Phone: 033 30990438

  • Trincas

Everyone knows the legacy of Trincas, a popular hangout located on the hippest road of the city, Park Street. Many musicians have started their careers here, later making it big in the music industry (Singer Usha Uthup, being one such personality). Trincas was a tearoom till 1959 and was later converted into a Bar and Restaurant. Many famous film stars were their regular visitors. Even today, one can enjoy the Orchestra performing popular old bollywood tracks or even famous gazhals. Every table of the restaurant will have a bowl of free chakna and some drinks (mostly beer). People visit the restaurant for live music, drinks, food and perhaps to get the feel of time that seems to have flown by.

Address: 17 B, Park Street,Park Street Area, Kolkata 
Phone
033 22297825,+91 9836381777

NOTE: Photography inside Trincas wasn’t allowed. So, unfortunately, I couldn’t share a picture here.

  • Broadway hotel

Operational since 1937, Broadway Hotel has a Restaurant and Bar on the ground floor of the hotel. With huge windows, leather chairs and floral curtains the interiors of the place can simply be described as art deco. Located right opposite to Chandni Chowk metro station, the restaurant has no air-conditioning. However, during winter, the sunlight entering through those huge windows, brightens up the room and your mood alike. One can simply enjoy bottles of beer with fish fingers, fish fry or fish curry with a humble bowl of rice. I met Mr. P.K.Das, the manager of the Bar and Restaurant. With much pride in his eyes, he informed me that they have been host to former Prime Minister of India (Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru). Mr. Das has been working here for 27 years and loves the place so much that he hates the idea of renovation, as that would mean not seeing his regular customers enjoying their drinks at their favourite tables. So much for the love of your work place and the times gone by.

Address: 27 A, Ganesh Chandra Avenue, Chandni Chowk, Kolkata
Phone033 22113080, 033 22363930

  • Olypub

The first time ever when I went to Kolkata, I heard so much about Olypub that I knew I had to go there. Being a Film school student, I had heard stories of Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray spending hours at this café on Park Street. Started in the year 1947 by the name of Olympia Bar, it was renamed Olypub in the year 1981. Hugely popular for serving the best Beef Steak in the city, this is one of the most popular places for having drinks, mainly because the prices are low. I remember going there with a friend of mine who ordered a bottle of ‘Thumbs up’. We were given such a cold service that we had to leave the restaurant in embarrassment. Although, recently renovated (there was a fire accident at the restaurant), their food menu or prices haven’t changed. I feel, just like everything else in Kolkata, retaining the old world charm is what these people are always keen upon.

Address: 21, Park Street, Park Street Area, Kolkata

I must say, that none of these places now have the magic they used to. However, they all are hanging in there hoping to see the golden days again, someday.

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