It’s easy to miss this small quirky restaurant with its black and white floor tiles in Covent Garden’s Shelton Street. And that would be a pity because behind those humble doors lies the opportunity to dine out on Bengali food tapas style.
It is the creation of friends Prabir Chattopadhyay and Biswajit Deb Das both of whom hail from the north-east Indian city of Kolkata (you may know it as Calcutta).
They love the idea that they can serve their native Bengali cuisine – not just for others as their are so few restaurants that have serve these dishes – but for themselves too – it helps them with “homesickness”.
This is a casual dining destination that manages to offer two moods.
The entrance leads to a casual and colourful segment with yellow button cushions on a burgundy backdrop matched with reds and lavender walls. To the left though it is more subdued in blacks and greys.
This is not about a curry and a side serving of pilau rice. This is Bengali street food served in a colourful tapas style in a small outlet.
It’s a unique as dishes use plants that grow in that area and is influenced by Kolkata’s location s by the ganges and so it includes fish. They are one of the world’s biggest sugar producers, so there’s plenty of sugar based dishes and mustards.
The idea is to order three dishes per person and share and tuck in – a mix of small and large sharing plates that generally cost between £5 – £13.
One of the most asked for is the Doi Papri Chaat — melt in the mouth crisp wafers topped with spicy potatoes and garnished with yogurt.
The Samosa Chaat is also a top pick and though it is a little spicy but tempered by a yoghurt sauce. As is the Goat Kosha Mangsho & Luchi which is a slowly roasted (five to seven hours!) goat dish and the tangy savoury Beetroot croquettes made from mashed beetroot, potato and chutney. The Seabass is flavoursome and you can taste that it is cooked on mustard and green mango. The chilli chicken is pretty spicy but so tender.
Per head: Around £20.
Verdict: The beauty of the unpretentious Little Kolkata somewhat tucked away in Covent Garden, is its ability to serve sumptuous Bengali food tapas style so you can mix and match flavours without breaking the bank.