Hey, Calgary! There’s a New Indian Restaurant in Town
Calcutta Cricket Club is serving up authentic Indian cuisine in a stunning new room on 17th Avenue.
Calgary’s 17th-avenue stretch (between 14th Street and the Saddledome) has long been a popular destination for anyone in search of good food, drinks and people-watching; plenty of spots have popped up in recent years, but this summer, it’s the new Calcutta Cricket Club—occupying the space between Anju and Cilantro (formerly Bar C)—that has our attention.
The project is the latest vision to come from Thank You Hospitality Group, spearheaded by Cody Willis (Native Tongues Taqueria and Two Penny Chinese), along with Shovik Sengupta, Amber Anderson and Maya Gohill. The casual evening eatery celebrates the diverse, cosmopolitan cuisine of Calcutta, India (now known as Kolkata) and is the perfect fit for 17th Avenue: the vibe is fun, social and a tad tongue-in-cheek, with some Wes Anderson-esque touches.
And with such a big British influence, it should come as no surprise that the cocktail program is heavy on the gin. Designed by beverage director Stephen Phips, the menu is chock-full of playful, easy-to-sip cocktails, as well as plenty of white wine and well-curated beers, both of which pair easily with complex, spicy Indian flavours. “We tried to pay homage to our families and our roots,” says Calgary artist Maya Gohill, who has Parsi and Gujarati roots and took on Calcutta Cricket Club as her first interior design project.
The decor is a cross between Gilligan’s Island and a 1960s gentleman’s club, with plenty of pinks and pastels, a summery side patio and small sidewalk seating area with sun shades made out of the same dried grass that’s used for hula skirts. On one wall in the back are black and white photos of family members of Indian descent—a nod to the heritage of the partners, and of their families’ influence on the menu, which itself credits people from aunts to friends for the recipes and dishes they inspired.
With plenty of inspiration to draw from, the food knocks it out of the park—modelled after the cuisine of West Bengal and particularly Calcutta, the plates are small and sharable, bold and flavourful, with chef Rene Bhullar at the helm in the kitchen. To nibble, there are plenty of bar snacks like Far Far (multicoloured puffed crisps to encourage drinking), Bhutta (roasted corn on the cob with chili, lime and salt), and Papri Chaat (a munchable snack of semolina crisps, spiced potatoes, yogurt, onions, chickpeas, mint, tamarind, chaat masala and pomegranate).
There are also Bengali dishes you’re not likely to find on other Indian restaurant menus, like the Kati Rolls—tandoor-grilled meats or paneer wrapped in fresh paratha (flatbread) with lime, onion and green chilis—served with Maggi Hot and Sweet that are still considered a popular street food. “It was invented as a place called Nizam,” says Sengupta. “They invented it back in the thirties for the baboos (gentlemen who didn’t want to get their hands dirty eating curries).” The flavourful fillings are contained in one tidy package, wrapped in paper for neat noshing. Then there’s the spicy-sticky-sweet chili chicken hakka dish, with strong Chinese influences—Calcutta has a large Chinese population. “Many people from Northern China came to India and set up their first Chinatown there,” says Sengupta, whose family is from Calcutta. “It’s the birthplace of hakka cuisine.”
The menu also features larger, more substantial dishes like Pork Butter Masala—their take on the original 1950s recipe from Moti Mahal in Delhi—and a trophy case of dishes designed for celebratory family-style meals, including lamb shank, tandoor roasted fish and bison biryani, a nod to Alberta’s culinary heritage. With a unique menu and breezy atmosphere that will appeal to Calgary’s broad range of tastes and appetites, Calcutta Cricket Club is sure to be popular destination this summer—and have staying power, too.
Calcutta Cricket Club
340 17 Avenue SW, Calgary