Have you ever had the feeling that some old memories may not be real memories – just a strange dream-like imagination mixed in with what actually happened? This happened to me yesterday – I was going to dinner at Oh Calcutta! in Parnell, Auckland and hazy memories of sitting there at an outside table on a cool spring night 13 years ago came back to me in patches until I wasn’t sure if I was making up this scene in my head.
I was looking forward to dining here, as in my search for a great Indian restaurant that my father would like, Oh Calcutta! was the name that came up consistently for great service and better food.
Most of the outdoor tables were already taken when we got here at 7.30, and we were seated inside the restaurant at a table large enough to accommodate our party of 8. Oh Calcutta!’s décor was a god balance of interesting ethnic while still remaining classy. The lighting was soft and I really appreciated that there was no music playing in the background so we could talk to one another in normal tones.
With the kids and adults having chosen their drinks, we turned to the menu to order our food. Just reading the beautifully described dishes made us all ultra-hungry! For entrees we had: Chilli Prawns; which while beautifully cooked were disappointingly not as hot as the name suggested, Mansoori Kebab; tender lamb cutlets with a smoky and unique flavor; and half Tandoori Chicken, which to be candid was just perfectly ordinary.
Our mains included the Butter Chicken; which despite all the rave reviews I found to be sweet and mediocre, Prawn Malabari Curry; which likewise was sweet and mild (and for me, lacking in a south indian flavor), Kadhai Paneer Masala; which had a lovely burst of fresh flavour, Murgh Makhani; a more authentic version of the butter chicken that was quite nice but unmemorable; and the special for the day, Mutton Curry; which had a lovely homemade curry flavour and feel. The Garlic and Cheese Naans were excellent and the rice served was aromatic and cooked to perfection. All in all, while the food did not blow us away everyone including the kids did enjoy it and we all walked away with far too much food in our bellies! Unfortunately that also meant that we did not have the chance to indulge in desserts, especially their very tempting Trio of Kulfi that I would not be normally able to resist.
The service was quiet but very attentive, with our young server coming around just when he was needed and our plates were cleared regularly without our prompting.
While prices may seem high in comparison to many other Indian restaurants, in my opinion the food, service, atmosphere and location make these perfectly appropriate here.
Oh Calcutta! does many things very well, and the next time I want to enjoy a date night or special occasion dinner, this may very well be where we end up.