Three iconic restaurants of Kolkata - Trincas, Kwality, and Mocambo - have been presented with the heritage tag by the prestigious INTACH (Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). Presented by GM Kapur, Convenor, the plaques were unveiled at the three restaurants in Kolkata, in the presence of the owners and Ayan Ghosh, leader of the Culinary Heritage Project and member of INTACH. These brands were felicitated for being a part of the cityscape for a considerable period of time, so much so that they are considered to be legends in their own rights.
Speaking about the matter, Ayan Ghosh, INTACH Member leading the Culinary Heritage Project, noted, "This city is singularly fortunate in how many food and beverage establishments of long standing have survived, and their varied offerings (ranging from Kolkata's famous sweets to the ubiquitous Kolkata biryani, rolls, phuchka and jhalmuri), enrich the culinary heritage of the city. While documentation is a challenge, we estimate that there are 250-300 establishments who could potentially receive a blue plaque. The blue plaques scheme offers a unique opportunity for brands to associate with iconic food brands of the city and become visible in prominent locations. We hope the unveiling of the first set of plaques will encourage more sponsors to come forward, so that the work can pick up scale and pace, with the plaques becoming a pervasive feature of the cityscape."
The three iconic restaurants have been a part of the city's most popular venue, Park Street, for over 60 years in the least. They are legendary in their own right, and the recognition received has made the populace rather happy. "It is a moment of sheer joy for all of us and we believe that these restaurants are iconic in their own right and needs to be recognized because they have been such an integral part of our lives since their inception," said Shilpa Chakraborty, partner at TRIBE café, Golpark, who has been a regular visitor at all three restaurants for decades.
Trincas started off after Cinzio Trinca broke off his partnership with Joseph Flury and started his own tearoom and bakery in 1939. It was taken over by Omi and Swaran Puri, together with Ellis Joshua, who decided to completely change the brand's face, adding not only a full menu but also live entertainment to attract the elite crowd of the city. Live music still forms a considerable part of the restaurant's charm, and the food is a combination of colonial continental and Asian. From Satyajit Ray to Dilip Kumar, this restaurant has been visited by numerous celebrities, not only for live performances by icons like Usha Uthup, but also for the delicious fare, featuring classics like Lobster Thermidor, Chicken A La Kiev, Baked Tetrazzini, Bhetki Florentine, and Devilled Crab. In 1983, the brand added Ming Room inside the premises, specifically bringing Sichuan-inspired food to Kolkata for the first time, and the Trincas Drums of Heaven is an unchanged recipe from that era, not to mention the sauce served with it which dates back to 1983. Proud to be a part of Kolkata's culinary culture, Anand Puri, partner at Trincas noted, "The award is recognition of generations of hard work and sacrifice. It is a proud moment for the entire Trincas family that has taken such risks and put in so much work over so many years and we cannot be happier to be given this great honour."
Outside the Trincas restaurant
Kwality was established in Park Street in 1952 by Mr. Premnath Ghai. Known for its Indian-Continental fare, the restaurant later expanded to Ballygunge five years down the line, and many of the dishes remain unchanged from their inception, including the Tutti Frutti Sundae, which is considered to be a must-order after dinner. Other items that should be on the order list include the Pindi Channa, Chicken Bharta, Paneer Butter Masala, Brain Masala, Saag Meat, Fish Peshawari Tikka, Tomato Fish, Grilled Fish, Chicken Cutlet and Fried Prawns. Speaking about the award, Mr. Rajiv Ghai, Partner, Kwality Restaurant, said, "We are passionate about food & continue to stick to the original Kwality style of cooking which has brought Kwality to where it is today. A journey which started seven decades back has been acknowledged and rewarded by INTACH. The whole team of Kwality is grateful to them as well as our beloved customers and well-wishers for their support."
Mocambo has been a Park Street legend for a very long time, and it started off in 1956 by Shivji V. Kothari. Designed by Messerschmidt, a German designer, with menu by an Italian chef, Prande, who was the Maitre d'hotel as well as the chef, the food remains almost the same, with minor changes here and there. Nitin Kothari, the current owner, noted, "The décor, the colour scheme, the colour of the tapestry, have all remained the same since inception in an effort to keep it in its original shape." This was done to evoke a sense of familiarity and the food, continental primarily, echoes it. Items like Prawn Cocktail, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Ham Steak, Devilled Crab, Fish Diana and the Chateaubriand Beef Steak have a huge fan following and are the reason this restaurant seems to be always overbooked. "The award means a great deal to us. The restaurant business all over the world is a rather fickle business. Many, many restaurants open but many of them shut down too. Some survive a few decades but very, very few survive in its original avatar sixty-five years. This award for me is a wonderful recognition of that, a pat on the back," said Nitin Kothari.
About Poorna BanerjeePoorna Banerjee is a food writer, restaurant critic and social media strategist and runs a blog Presented by P for the last ten years where she writes about the food she eats and cooks, the places she visits, and the things she finds of interest. She is deeply interested in culinary anthropology, and food history and loves books, music, travelling, and a glass of wine, in that order.