This is a part of 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- 1948
In a nutshell:
Legendary Kolkata restaurant with a typical Mughlai restaurant look & feel, average to good food. The Glorious past seems to b just a memory.
YUMMRAJ says for Sabir – OLD IS NO MORE GOLD’.
Read an interesting write up about the history of Sabir’s in Times of India published on Nov 2001 here – Sabir’s
Address & other details: Sabir’s
Meal for 2: Rs. 250 onwards
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian (predominantly non vegetarian)
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
The restaurant is situated in a busy Old street in Chandni Chowk market. Very easy to find but quite a task to park the car unless u have a driver with u.
The ground floor has a huge non A/C section and they have an A/C section as well. We chose the non A/C section as the temperature was good after rains.
The general look & feel was clean but there was something dull about the whole look & feel.
The waiting staff were mostly Old timers. They wore butler dresses from the days of the Raj. Most of them had a difficulty to smile. They had a transactional approach – pretty binary. We were granted a smile as we paid a tip at the end & also on few occasions when we were ordering extra dishes one by one.
The menu card was tiny printed black & white printed paper that was laminated. Menu options were small & focussed.
We had tremendous high hopes from the food. After eating we were looking at each other – Did we travel 15 km to eat this?
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We started with Mutton tikia. We ordered this dish based on the amazing tikia that we had at Royal Indian Hotel earler. The tikia at sabir turned out to b very dry. It had too much packing to reduce the cost & taste & flavor of mutton were suboptimal. It was average to taste. Rate it 2/5 . Try the Mutton tikia at Royal Indian Hotel & u will understand what a contrast it is…
We then ordered what sabir was Known for in its heydays – Mutton rezala. It is a mutton preparation that is quite unique to Kolkata & initiated by Sabir’s – Pale to look but impressive to taste.
The Rezala thatwe were served had a thin, runny gravy deficient in the basic balance of taste. It had suboptimal salt, was a bit sweetish, there was a tinge of sour, not at all hot. Posto (Khus khus/ poppy seed paste) made the runny gravy a bit grainy as well. We ordered a second plate in disbelief. Is this the same legendary stuff? Yes, even the second time was as average.
I don’t know was it just a bad day for the Chef or the Old chef is gone & he did not share his secret recipes & his helpers have become cooks now or simply the owners have other businesses to run & lack of attention have ensured that they stooped down to this level. I dont know the reason.
I am sure this dish in its current form cannot be so famous – It must have been a real gem at some time to reach this level of brand equity. Rate the rezala 2/5.
We had the rezala with Tandoori roti that was fluffy, crisp on the base side & nice. The fermented feel that one gets in the rotis served at Karim’s was missing here. Rate it 3/5.
We moved on to Mutton kassa. This turned out to be much better than its predecessor. Its gravy had good flavors of spices & meat.
The meats were not perfectly soft. They were a bit chewy. Rate it 3/5.
Next dish we had was Double meat special mutton biryani. The key highlight of this dish was the meat – it beats most other Biryani meats hands down. Super soft, full of taste & flavor of both ethe mutton & the spices. Unbelievably good. Rate the meat 4.75/5,
The aloo of the biryani was a cheaper version – sweet potato. Not so good. Rate it 2/5.
The egg of the biryani was good. Rate it 3/5,
The rice of the biryani was soft, they wud stick to each other, they were not independent strands of rice, not aromatic , did not smell of ghee, or spices – it was just normal rice, not even optimally salted. Rate the rice 1/5
Overall rating of biryani averages out to 2.7/5. Royal, Arsalan & Khalique r way better.
For dessert we had Shahi tukda. It was excellent. It was the only thing that made us smile at the end. A pinch of salt made all the difference. For Shahi tukda they used not the usual bakery bread but a slice of quarter ( pao) bread. Rate it 4.25/5
Overall rating of food at sabir’s averages out to 2.8/5. I wud surely not go there unless someone I trust tells me that things have been revived back here.