Located along the eastern bank of the Hooghly River in the lower Ganges Delta, Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. This 350-year-old metropolis is the heart and soul of eastern India with its crumbling colonial architecture, elegant gardens, countless temples and bustling bazaars. Celebrated as the birthplace of the early 20th-century Bengal Renaissance, Kolkata is a major centre for drama, art, film, theatre, literature, spirituality and music. Visitors can roam the streets and soak up the atmosphere of faded grandeur, or take a ride in a rickshaw to one of the many Indian restaurants serving mouth-watering Bengali cuisine. Must-see highlights include: the Victoria Memorial, with its east-meets-west architecture; the Indian Museum, with its range of rare artefacts; and the Kali Temple, an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus.
Suggested places to eat & drink in Kolkata:
Oh! Calcutta: Forum Mall, 10/3 Elgin Road, Lala Lajpat Rai Sarani, Kolkata.Phone: (33)2283-7161. If you've got money to splurge on eating out, you won't be disappointed with Oh! Calcutta. This award winning, fine dining restaurant can now be found in major cities across India. It aims to recreate dishes from traditional old style Bengali recipes, selected through painstaking research. The environment is elegant, and there's a private dining area as well. Expect to pay around 1,500-2,000 rupees for two people. What's Good: You can't go wrong with the seafood. The Gandharaj Bhetki (steamed fish flavored with lime) and Aam Ilish (mango hilsa fish) are popular.
Peter Cat: 18 Park St, Kolkata (just around the corner from Flury's). Phone: (33) 2229-8841. A restaurant where cocktails are cheaper than the food, the food is an appealing mix of Indian and continental, and the environment is quirky and unique. Where else but Peter Cat in Kolkata! It's been a favorite among locals and visitors for decades. A trip to Kolkata would be incomplete without dining here. A meal for two at this iconic restaurant will cost around 1,000 rupees. What's Good: the signature dish -- the iconic Iranian-style chelo kebab. Two minced mutton kebabs and one chicken kebab, served with rice and an egg. It's legendary among the residents of Kolkata who flock there for it. However, if you feel like a break from Indian food, you'll welcome the sizzlers.
Kewpie’s Kitchen: 2 Elgin Lane (behind Netaji Bhawan), Kolkata. Phone: (33)2475-9880. Kewpies Kitchen started as an intimate, unassuming, family run restaurant over a decade ago but has taken the city of Kolkata by storm. Located in the owner's home, it seats just 50 people. Sadly, service standards have reportedly declined in recent years but if you want reasonably priced Bengali food in a unique environment, do give it a try. Expect to pay 600-800 rupees for two people. What's Good: The traditional Bengali thali (platter) served on a banana leaf.
Raj’s Spanish Cafe: 7 Sudder Street, Kolkata. Phone: (33) 2252 3456. We highly recommend this friendly café tucked away just off Sudder Street. The food is reasonably priced, hygienically prepared and the pizzas are freshly baked by the Italian chef in the authentic pizza oven. Specialises in Italian, Mexican & Spanish cuisine. Free Wi-Fi. A meal for two at this mid-range restaurant will cost around 1,000-1,200 rupees. What's Good: Pizza – all of them!
Bohemian: 32/4 Old Ballygunge 1st Lane, Kolkata. Phone: (33)6460-1001. For something deliciously different, try Bohemian's contemporary Bengali fusion food. Chef Joy Bannerjee, who was previously Head Chef at Oh! Calcutta, uses distinctly Bengali spices and flavors in his cooking -- but with a twist. The menu has tweaked traditional fare plus a range of innovative global dishes, including many vegetarian options. Mains are priced at around 350-450 rupees each. What's Good: Royal Bengal roast mutton.
6 Ballygunge Place: 6 Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge, Kolkata. Also at DD 31 A, Sector 1, Salt Lake, Kolkata. Phone: (33)2460-3922. In testament to its popularity, 6 Ballygunge Place is another Bengali cuisine restaurant that's branched out across India, and Kolkata. The original one is located in a white character filled converted bungalow, with plenty of old world charm, in Ballygunge. A meal for two at this mid-range restaurant will cost around 1,000-1,200 rupees. What's Good: Try the Pabda Macher Jhal (spicy fish curry, prepared with mustard paste and poppy seeds.)
Flurys: 18 Park Street, Kolkata. Phone: (33) 40007453. Flurys the legendary tearoom on fashionable Park Street in Kolkata was founded in 1927 by Mr and Mrs J Flurys. Bursting with tempting cakes, pastries and chocolates, it is also a good place to have a sandwich at lunch time. What's Good: Try the famous Flurys Viennese coffee.