When we think of Calcutta (sorry, I prefer call it Calcutta and not Kolkata, the name Calcutta has more history, character and style), the first thing that comes to our mind is food –rasgullas, puchkas, momos, biryani, Chinese, Park Street – the works!
I spent Chirstmas in Calcutta last year and boy did I love basking in the sunny winter mornings. We spent a day walking on Park Street soaking up the winter sun and working up an appetite for restaurants like Bar-be-Que, Peter Cat or Moulin Rouge. Being the Christmas week, most places were full, but people waited patiently outside.
After a shopping spree at Rajniklal – famous for their ceramic kitchen wear, we headed to Peter Cat for lunch. Since there was a queue, we were asked to come back within 20 minutes to be seated inside Peter Cat. This was my first visit to Peter Cat, as mostly I would head to Bar-be-Que in Park Street for the Chinese.
I think after visiting Peter Cat, I am now tempted to add a new category for my restaurant reviews – the Snoot Factor. As I was looking at the menu card, which is a huge cut-out of a cat.
One of the head waiters just came by and picked it up on his way somewhere else, without asking whether we were ready to order; when I told him, I am still looking at it. When we asked for two Cream of Asparagus soup, followed by the main course, the head waiter’s enthusiasm dropped as if he were disappointed we weren’t ordering any more or not spending enough money. That changed their attitude completely and every time someone new came to serve our main course (which did not come together, mine came first, so I waited till the others got their meals served on the table).
I don’t think they take stress and heavy rush too well. They appeared to be under-staffed and there was some chaos in the far end of the restaurant, where the air conditioner was non-operational and as a result a client refused to pay money as it was hot and walked away without paying.
Suddenly, there was a commotion in Peter Cat and all the head waiters and stewards were running about trying to do some damage control. Ultimately, what I gathered from their discussions, the client paid the amount (maybe half) and left. The stewards were discussing loudly with the barman, the bar was very close to where we were sitting and I think, he realized that his colleagues where loud while talking about that client and he asked them to lower their voices.
While the name says Peter Cat, I was wondering why the stewards are wearing Indian/ Pathani uniforms – with turbans, kurta, kamar band and pajyamas. Maybe they thought it’s best not to change the attire from the time they started.
Now coming to the food part – Cream of Chicken Asparagus – strictly okay, Grilled Bhetki Fish with Orange sauce, good, but not great, Special house Sizzler – the usual fare, nothing interesting. Finally a winner the Chocolate Souffle – it was dreamy, soft, fluffy, not too sweet and it saved the day.
I wish the staff were polite, and handled stress better. Peter Cat is a brand and an institution and I think they have reached a stage where the staff/ owners don’t seem to bother about maintaining the image or the brand of Peter Cat as they know that their clients will still drop by no matter what.
Overall, my experience at Peter Cat was not all that great; it was rather disappointing. I was told their Chello kebabs are the best, maybe I will try that again the next time. Until then, I hope they buckle up their kamarbandhs and smarten up a bit in terms of service and politeness. As a Bengali from Mumbai, I’d certainly like to come back for more!
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The Snoot Factor – Totally!
Peter Cat Restaurant
18 Park Street
Kolkata – 700 016
Phone – 033 – 2229-8841
*Please Note – Pricing may change/ vary according to location and time.
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