With grand, Greek-themed interiors and some interesting food and drink offerings, Ølterra is an impressive entrant on Kolkata’s fine-dining scene.
You’ll feel nothing less than a Greek god or goddess, as you ascend the grand staircase at Ølterra, up to the first floor seating area (there’s a microbrewery in the works on the mezzanine floor), all set in a historic building on Park Street. The name literally means ‘Land of Beer’ so when the microbrewery opens, it is sure to play a pivotal role in the Ølterra experience.
The first thing you’re likely to notice is the massive statue of Zeus that hangs over the 100-foot-long bar, one of the longest bars in Kolkata. The space itself is massive, a whopping 13,000 sq ft, 9,000 of which is inside and the rest al fresco. The open-air terrace area is definitely the highlight here, featuring its own bar and overlooking all the action on Park Street.
The menu is rather extensive, featuring a number of people-pleasing options. You can start with a Tuscan Ribollita or Tom Yum Soup, then move to Couscous and Orange Salad, before exploring the rest of the menu.
It’s in the small plates that the menu really shines. The Edible Lava Coal — croquettes coated with active charcoal and bursting with a gooey cheese and yoghurt fondue — is something they are especially proud of. I also liked the Lemongrass Chicken Tikka (why didn’t someone think of this combination before?) and it has all the makings of a classic. The Chili Cigar Rolls are expectedly fiery but Kolkatans, who like it hot and spicy, seem to take them in their stride. Other good appetiser options are Chole Bhature Taco, Beer Battered Fish and Achari Jhinga. Vegetarians needn’t despair — there are enough options for them throughout the menu.
Impressively, there are entire sections of the menu devoted to Sushi, Dim Sums and Bao. The Pan Fried Gyoza is outstanding, including the presentation. And it’s vegetarian. Among the baos, the Spicy Chilli Chicken Bao really hits the spot — after all, no Indian city quite knows how to do chilli chicken like Kolkata.
If you’re in the mood to share, opt for one of their platters, like Ølterra’s Lebanese Platter, which comes with crispy fried falafel, grilled pita bread, sambushek, hummus, pickle, aubergine, Turkish muhammara and tabbouleh salad. Or go for a pizza, maybe the Greek Arugula Pesto Pizza given we are on Mount Olympus. The large screens behind the DJ console after all exhort guests to “Party like the Gods.” There are no proper Greek dishes on the menu, just the token nod, but going forward they do plan to offer a few.
I have a thing for the unusual rather than the familiar, so for my mains I opted for a Dab Chingri Risotto. I also sampled a Sri Lankan Cashew Curry bowl which had subtle and comforting flavours. It’s these out-of-the-box experiments with flavour combinations that will make Ølterra stand out in Kolkata’s frenetic restaurant scene and keep the diners coming back. If you like something more familiar, the Moroccan Slow Cooked Lamb or the Chicken Tikka Ala Kiev (we are on Park Street after all) should hit the spot.
There’s a small but competent dessert menu with the most interesting item being the Egyptian Baklava with Vanilla Ice Cream. Definitely recommended.
I visited on a dry day, but there is an excellent wine and cocktails menu. Some of the signature cocktails include whisky and gin based drinks like the Optimistic, Have a New York Sour, Smoked Manhattan and the Agave Negroni. There’s shisha too, which Kolkata can’t seem to get enough of, and at Ølterra you can smoke it indoors as well. When the microbrewery opens, it will take the experience up by several notches.
But perhaps the highlight at Ølterra is the ambience itself. The sumptuous interiors are by Sumessh Menon, a force to reckon with in the world of restaurant design. He has done quite a few projects in Kolkata in recent times and this is his latest effort.
Kolkata is clearly in the throes of a restaurant renaissance, and it’s not just the franchises of nationally successful brands that are pouring in. The standalone restaurant is alive and well in the City of Joy, and Ølterra, if it sustains its quality, could become one of the very best.
Ølterra is pegged as an all-out party spot. Given its location on Park Street, that’s no surprise. But come by day and you will see families and couples tucking into elegant, leisurely meals. It’s only by evening that Dionysus rules the roost here. So Ølterra is a nice combination of the two experiences. And, with lavish portions, attentive service and a general tendency to pamper, this restaurant certainly makes its customers feel like gods.
Ølterra, 18 Park Street, Stephen Court Building, Kolkata – 700071, Above Times Collection.
Timings: 12:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Price for two: Rs 1,499-1,699 plus taxes (without alcohol), Rs 2,499-2,899 plus taxes (with alcohol)
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