L texted me at work to inform me that he won an award. Awesome, a reason to go out and celebrate! I’ve been meaning to try Calcutta Cricket Club ever since I learned that food writer Gwendolyn Richards frequents this restaurant. We arrived on Monday at 5:46 p.m. Only the bar and a couple of high tables were available. We chose to sit at the bar.
The restaurant is bright and airy. The air perfumed with curry. The décor is not what you would typically find in Calgary. This ain’t a cookie cutter chain restaurant. I like the cheetah at the bar and retro colours. I felt like I was on vacation. For this post, let’s listen to Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks.
Our bartender Eric was quick to point out we could still order off the happy hour menu. Appetizers are half off between 5:00 p.m. – 6: 00 p.m. daily. For happy hour beverages, there’s a feature cocktail ($8), wine (HH$8, reg $10) and draft beer (HH $5, reg $8). L started with a Unicorn Philips beer and I drank a glass of red wine.
Based on Eric and Gwendolyn’s recommendations, we ordered the Chips and Curry (HH $5, reg $10), Chilli Chicken (HH $7.50, reg $13), Paneer and Honey (HH $4, reg $8), and a Kati Roll – Tandoori Spiced Chicken ($8) with an egg ($1.50).
The chips were thick and long, the shell was crispy and held up to its delicious bath of fenugreek-cream curry. Best chips I’ve ever had. I couldn’t get enough of that curry. The combination was fantastic.
The chilli chicken was fried and spicy, wet from a sweet chili sauce. The chicken had a pop of heat and the flavour reminded me of an Indian version of Chinese style ginger beef. Very nice.
The kati roll made for a nice nibble. I could taste the tandoori in the chicken. The onions were still crunchy, which added a contrasting texture to the flaky hot bread. The green chilies were hot. The addition of the egg made the roll thicker and gave it more of a bite. I didn’t find the use of cilantro in the food overpowering like I normally do.
The paneer and honey was clean and subtle compared to the other two dishes. I liked the taste of salt, honey and sprinkle of pistachios. Simple but delicious.
Eric recommended the Crushable Gin & Tonic ($12), a mixture of British gin, mango, lemon and chili. I was pleased to see the bartenders make sure to completely fill the shot glass. I watched as Eric train a new staffer. Eric told her to use rice in a container and practice feeling the rice slid up and over. I was surprised when L said he didn’t mind sitting at the bar because he found it interesting to learn about Eric’s bartending techniques. L usually would rather wait for a table than sit at the bar, as he isn’t social after work.
I read the negative reviews on Yelp and Zomato regarding Calcutta Cricket Club. I think some people may not get what Calcutta Cricket Club is all about. It’s not a place to visit to get stuffed for cheap. It’s not a spot to bring the whole family. It’s a restaurant I imagine expats in India would frequent. A spot to leisurely sip on quality cocktails and nibble on Indian food with a British twist. I dig Calcutta so much, I’m going to make this a regular stop for date night.