This is a late add to YUMMRAJ’s series called TIMELESS KOLKATA EATOUTS – reviews of Heritage Kolkata restaurants. Each restaurant has been rated as ‘Old is Gold’ or ‘Old is no more Gold’ based on the experience.
Year/decade of opening- Around Independence.
YUMMRAJ Demystifies the Legend of Peter Cat & maintains OLD IS GOLD
In a nutshell:
A retro restaurant (not by design but coz they never changed with time) with a great ambience, old school staff, good food for the prices that they charge but nowhere as good compared to the ’real thing’- be it European or Persian.
Address & other details: Peter Cat
Meal for 2: Rs. 300 onwards
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
Peter Cat has been around for decades & that speaks a lot – Restaurants open very often & close down almost as often. The ones who survive the test of time surely have something good / unique to offer.
The décor as I mentioned above is retro in today’s context – red sofas facing each other & nice lamp shades above each table. The lighting is dim overall but the lamps on each table illuminate the table good enough to see each other, have a good chat & enjoy some good food. There are two floors & the way to top floor is as grand as it can get.
Waiting staff look Grand as well, with their sherwani suits, flamboyant headgear & pointed shoes. Most of them are however quite Old School – smooth talking, knowledgeable, not overtly attentive but attentive as well, not quite warm, talks with an air of authority interspersed with some rare smiles & I guess quite bored of doing the same job for donkey’s years…… & that shows on their face. U will enjoy the evening if u think this to b a part of the package – dining at a retro restaurant & being served by people who r enacting the past:)
The food is good in general & at the prices that the food is offered, I wud say some are excellent. However, if u compare the non- Indian dishes to the original dishes the way they r, then u might b quite disappointed.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
To start, we ordered for ‘Betki Muenier’ from ‘Chef’s Special Seafood section’. There was no description of the food & hence we had no choice but to ask the waiting staff for recommendation regarding which of the dishes to choose in this section.
As soon as the food was served, we knew that it will be good. The looks were so confident. As the fish landed on my taste buds, the taste buddies got thrilled & cried out in joy. We cleaned off the full plateI guess in less than two minutes flat…………….awesome is the word. It turned out to b a batter fried fish served with white creamy sauce in such a way that the crunchiness of the batter was gone & it formed an even interesting texture.
Along with the fish there were a bunch of dry spicy half potatoes – They tasted excellent as well.
The letdown in this dish was the boiled veggies – they were overcooked & had lost crunchiness.
I wud still give this dish a 4.5/5 inspite of the veggies being not up to the mark.
Post this we were served the Legendary Chelo Kabab – I say Legendary & it is actually. I always knew this but it got reinforced after I started my blog. Every single day loads of people reach my blog searching for ‘peter cat chelo kabab’. Peter Cat claims in its menu card ‘The protected Regional product of West Bengal’ (see picture below). I am surprised why they say so but they do.
Chelo Kabab is an Iranian (Persian) dish in which freshly made kababs are served on a bed of long grained aromatic rice. I was lucky enough to taste the chelo Kabab at different Iranian Restaurants in other countries. I was particularly floored by the Chelo Kabab at Persian Room, Arizona, USA & also at Lalarouh, Boston USA. There the rice was like a good Lucknowi Dum Biryani sans the dripping ghee.
Peter Cat’s Chelo Kabab has mid-grained steamed rice in the base but has two dollops of Amul Butter that make the rice sinfully good. However, it is unable to match the original version by a wide gap. I wud give the Peter Cat rice 3/5.
The ‘Original Chelo Kabab’ of Peter Cat has one set of chicken kababs & two mutton seekh kababs. There is also a mutton Chelo kabab in which all kababs r mutton. The server suggested that we go for the ‘original’.
The chicken kababs that came with the Chelo Kabab were good but usual. They were not juicy, not melt in the mouth but very tasty & flavorful. Any good chicken kabab in Kababland Purani Dilli wud b juicier & softer. I wud give a 4/5 to the taste & 3/5 to the texture & hence overall 3.5/5 for the chicken kababs.
The mutton kababs were bad at texture as well – brittle, not soft, not juicy, not chewy either but quite good to taste. Flavors were very enjoyable too. I wud give this 2/5 for texture, 3.5/5 for taste & hence overall 2.75/5 for the mutton kababs.
Overall the Chelo Kabab thus wud be 3/5. However, considering that Chelo Kabab at Peter Cat is less than US$5 as compared to close to US $ 10 – 15 in most of the places I have eaten, I wud say that the Chelo Kabab at Peter Cat is a great dish to have at that price – ultimate value for money.
Sizzlers – The third dish that we had was again ‘Legendary’ according to Peter Cat’s Table Mats (see pic below).
As we reached the page in menu card with ‘sizzlers’, we asked about the most popular sizzlers. We were told ‘House special – Chicken Steak with sausages & liver’ & we ordered the same.
The Sizzler was again very good for Rs. 250 but if judged in isolation, the sizzler was just good. Kobe Sizzlers serves much better sizzlers in India. The sauce of the sizzler was a bit confused in taste. It was not bad but not good either – just about OK. I wud say 2.5 / 5.
The chicken piece was good in terms of texture & taste. I wud say 4/5.
The sausages were very ordinary – like the kinds u can buy off Supermarket shelves. Soft & smooth in texture but lacking a character of its own (in terms of taste). I wud give this 3/5.
The liver was very enjoyable. I wud say 4.5/5
Overall I wud give the sizzler 3.5/5.
In terms of the overall food experience at Peter Cat, the score adds up to 3.7/5.
We washed down our meal with fresh lime soda Sweet & salt that failed to make a statement. It was not bad though.
I guess Peter Cat has a bright long future simply for the price-value equation that they have mastered over time. For culinary freaks & hardcore foodies with an exposure to the ‘real thing’, Peter Cat might not appeal as much.
However, not everything in life is weighed statistically – some are just emotional. As Debatri says in a comment to this post “for people from Kolkata, peter cat food is as favorite as mom made food… that is the kind of love they have for this place… they enjoy every aspect of the restaurant … from the food, to the guard at the entrance, to the silver mugs they serve beer in to the old furniture , carpet and lighting’…………………………… It takes years of dedication by a Brand to get to this level that people love it beyond reason. Hats off.