A Smorgasbord of flavours at Milee Droog Cafe & Bistro
My brother used to frequent Gorky Sadan whilst in high school. He had expressed a desire to pursue his higher studies in Moscow and wanted to learn the nitty gritty about scholarships for courses at college and universities there. While he was at it, I accompanied him on several occasions and discovered a chess club and often caught a regional film or two at the Sadan. That was many, many moons ago. Soon, the brother realized maybe the harsh clime of the country would interfere with his grades and relinquished the pursuit of both the Russian language and the scholarships. I did go back to catch some more films but then the visits dwindled.
That is why when I heard about Milee Droog my interest was reignited. Kolkata is new to the bistro culture and this place sounded like worth a try. Also because I’ve never sampled Russian fare. An effort to get youngsters to visit the Sadan the café has really been getting a steady footfall. A lot of young boys and girls seem to throng the Chess Club here though. Aaah! Russia and chess! Now, I get it!
But, considering that chess is more of a hobby than a desired sport to excel in, a consolidated effort was needed to pull in the city’s youth to this institution, even if for hearty meal. Food binds all and Satyaki Manna, the owner of the eatery, tapped into that knowledge resource. A foodie who is married to a beautiful Russian called Irina and has an adorable two year old son named Adrian, he grabbed the opportunity to greet the city’s gourmands with a large spread of Russian as well as European, Japanese and Lebanese fare, with spurts of nouvelle fusion thrown in. Authentic Russian fare, he’s afraid, is too bland for the Kolkata palate (perennially in love with their spices). So, while the menu has retained a substantial number of Russian preparations (in their most authentic avatars), he’s brought in delicacies from other countries as well. The chef also tweaks. For instance, while the city in under the grip of the World Cup fever, the Russian blini is being served with a stuffing of chicken tikka rolled in the cream sauce. He vouches it’s flying faster than you can say GOAL!
The décor is cheerful with posters and paintings (done by Russian artists and collected from Lalit Kala Akademi) hinting on the Russian connect. While a bistro would have natural light streaming in through large glass windows, Satyaki has cleverly incorporated the colour lime green to brighten the basement restaurant’s interiors. It’s a small but immensely likeable ambience created.
Disputing my disapproving stance about coffee, Satyaki recommends a coffee and watermelon drink. While I courageously surrender to the experiment, my friend safely orders a Yuzu Tangy Twist. I am not fond of the bitter aftertaste that coffee leaves the drinker with. But if I have to have another coffee drink in my life, I guess I would have to come back here. The watermelon and coffee mocktail is an outright winner. It smells of coffee but is utterly refreshing. The sweetness is just perfect. In comparison I find the Yuzu cooler a tad insipid. My friend though is happy with her delicate drink.
Fact is we reserve some place for dessert, which makes its presence felt in the form of blinis once again. This time stuffed with the most aerated and fluffy whipped cream I’ve tasted in my life and topped with sliced mangoes. Absolutely delish my dear friends!