Now, I’ve been to quite a few Indian restaurants in my time, so they have to really stand out to make me sit up and take notice. When you first walk into Calcutta Brasserie the building itself does that even before you get to the food. Tucked away down a small side street in Stony Stratford, Calcutta doesn’t look much from the outside but when you step inside you can’t fail to be impressed. The building is a Grade II listed 17th century Chapel – now I bet you weren’t expecting that. A cavernous room awaits you with a domed ceiling which is painted dark blue with twinkly stars, the walls are adorned with more paintings including a back drop of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. It is really quite difficult to get your eyes to look down at the menu.
Once I managed to return my focus to the menu again it made me sit up and take notice. The information on the menu states that the chefs use authentic, naturally sourced and free range ingredients to create dishes from the different corners of India. All very well, but what does that mean in practice. The menu contains many dishes I have never seen on any other Indian restaurant menu which bodes well for this dining experience. In fact, it took quite a while for my dining companion and I to choose from the vast range of dishes; we could quite happily have tried several starters and several mains each, but we had to choose.
For our appetisers we went for Dosa, crispy rice pancakes stuffed with spiced potato fillings and served with traditional sambar, a coconut chutney. The pancakes were gorgeous and very light and the potato filling was equally as tasty but the standout was the coconut chutney. White and velvety, I could have eaten the bowl on its own. We also tried the Tiranga Samosas, three individual samosas, stuffed with potato and peas, chicken and red peppers, and duck with five spice. All very good but the duck one just pipped it for me.
On to the main courses and what a choice. Everything from Tandoor dishes to sea food, chicken, and lamb. They also have a large vegetarian selection and a handy guide next to each dish telling you how spicy they are – we stayed well away from the ones marked with three little chillies. After much deliberation we went for the Sizzling Tandoor Kebab Platter – which included lamb chops, chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, sheek kabab and tandoori prawns, served with plain naan. We both tried a bit of everything and nothing disappointed. For our other main we chose Chicken Mango Korma. Now I know some people are shouting “boring!” at this choice but hear me out.
My reason for choosing this dish is simple; every Indian restaurant offers a chicken korma, so the mark of a really good restaurant is if they can make this dish the one you remember and, boy, does this one deliver. The blurb on the menu says “poached and grilled corn-fed chicken breasts simmered in alphonso mango sauce” but this simply does not describe how god-damn tasty this dish is. I could have happily eaten another portion, it was so good. It will live in the memory for a long time and will ensure that I go back which must be a good thing. I may be slightly obsessed or even addicted.
I don’t normally have a dessert when at an Indian restaurant as I’m normally too full, but in the interests of doing a fair review we felt we had to try and force one down. We decided to go very traditional with my dining companion trying the Kulfi, an Indian style ice cream (Pistachio and Mango) which were both very tasty and full of flavour. I went for the choice I couldn’t even pronounce, Glub Jamun Aur Rabri. The description said ‘Warm khoya roundels with chilled Indian cardamom scented custard’ – I saw the word ‘custard’ and decided to give it a whirl. It was simply delicious, the roundels were like little balls of fried hot dough sat on a bed of some of the best tasting custard I’ve ever had – a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Going back to the start of this review, did Calcutta Brasserie succeed in making me sit up and take notice? Oh yes it did. The setting truly has to be seen to be believed, and once you are over that shock you get to the food. After finishing our meal I really believed that I had tasted some truly authentic Indian dishes and came away very happy, very full and very much wanting to go back again, very soon.
Eat as much as you like from a choice of four starters and three mains, plus two vegetable dishes and rice and bread. All for just £15.95 per person (min 2 persons to share).
The full menu is also available for takeaway and you can get 30% off before 7.30pm and 15% off after 7.30pm. They also run a number of other discounts and offers for the restaurant – check out their website for details.
Calcutta Brasserie is also available to hire for celebration events such as wedding receptions, birthdays, anniversaries or product launches. IA private function room can seat up to 100 guests and the whole venue can cater for up to 200 guests. The restaurant can also provide outside catering for private events up to 1,000 people and have bespoke menus available at different price points to suit every budget.
Access is at ground level so easy for wheelchairs. Disabled toilet available.