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-1884
Perspective – 1880 Calcutta tramways was incorporated in England. Horse drawn teams were introduced. In 1902 came the electric ones.
1885 Indian national congress was formed
1854 Howrah station started operating
In a nutshell:
A 125 plus years old kolkata western snack eatery that is now very well maintained, renovated & serves really good food.
YUMMRAJ says for Allen – ‘OLD IS GOLD’.
Address & other details: Allen
Meal for 2: ₹300 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & 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.
YUMMRAJ rates all the food items & then gives 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
We paid ₹490 in cash, No bill
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
We have been been away from kolkata for 18 years now. We go back to the city maybe twice a year. Usually once during durga pujo. So we have a permanent list of places to visit & that list keeps getting fatter.
Allen has been on our list for almost a decade now but somehow we were never able to make it here at the right time.
Allen has received the INTACH culinary heritage badge.
Last month we finally managed to go to Allen & it was nice to see that the place has been renovated & still the furniture & older heritage events retained. What I did not like (should not matter to anyone) though is that the walls have been covered with tiles, probably to fight seepage.
The wooden tables with marble tops & the teak wood chairs are surely from the earlier days.
The ceiling rests on ’korikath’ (joists) – that was the norm for making ceiling in pre cement era. Yes, u read it right.
A slight distraction – Cement is just a century old product . Before that different other mixtures were used to bind bricks & that’s how most of these old buildings were made. A common mix used in kolkata was choon shurki bali – lime, powdered brick & sand. Cement buildings generally remain intact for about 70-80 years. The earlier ones stay intact for centuries. The famous terracotta temples of Bengal built in 1700s & later are a testimony.
The menu card is a one pager, laminated, colourful. It does not have any description or pictures of the food items.
The gentleman who came to speak to us & wrote the food order, had some strong suggestions. He probed a bit, to understand our likes, dislikes & inclinations & suggested some items & discouraged us on one of the items.
What I understood from his conversation was that the fish & prawn items are the best.
Many items at Allen are actually fried in ghee!!! That was new for us. We have had Indian snacks like Samosa fried in ghee, but do not remember a western snack being fried in ghee.
We loved the food. It was worth driving 25km each side from where were were staying.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Fish chop was fried in oil. It had a thin & crispy crust. A layer of fillet of fish was just below the outer layer & the middle had a mix of fish, spices & other items. Really loved the balance of taste & texture. The crispness of the outer layer was really enjoyable. Rate it 4.5/5
Prawn batter cutlet was fried in ghee. It was a thin cutlet with a large piece of prawn meat inside. Loved the crispness & also the complimenting flavours of ghee & prawn. Quite unique I would say. Reminded us of Japanese tempura a bit. Rate it 4.5/5
Mutton kobiraji was not recommended by the gentleman from Allen. He had suggested fish kobiraji. We insisted on mutton.
The outer layer fried with ghee was outstanding in terms of both texture & flavour of ghee. It was different than the outer bird-nest kind of look of most other kobirajis. The patty in the middle was made from minced mutton. It was not juicy & we found it slightly hard. The taste was good but not great.
Rate the outer cover 4.95/5. Rate the mutton patty 3/5. Overall rating of the dish averages out to 4/5
Overall rating of food at Allen averages out to 4.3/5
Look forward to revisiting & trying the fish cutlet & other fish items.