I can’t believe how long it took for Matt and I to finally visit Calcutta Cricket Club! We were actually inspired to visit after I spent a few hours gazing lovingly at fancy curry photos while writing about our recent trip to Singapore. It seemed like a great time to try another upscale Indian restaurant, this time with a Canadian twist.
Calcutta Cricket Club is part of the Thank You Hospitality family of restaurants, who are developing a reputation for gorgeous interior design, cool cocktails and tight, tantalizing menus. Matt and I are obsessed with TYH’s Mexican hot spot, Native Tongues, and everyone has been raving about their trendy new venues, Two Penny Chinese and the Tea House. This made Calcutta Cricket Club a no-brainer for us on a chilly, drizzly evening!
Almost immediately after being seated at a bar-height table near the window (in a dress without any wardrobe malfunctions – please hold your applause), we were given a heads up by our server that their happy hour deal of half priced small plates was running for just a few more minutes. We made some split-second selections, then she hustled to make sure she entered our appie order before the clock struck 6.
While we waited for our first round of food, I guzzled a Crushable Gin & Tonic ($12) made with gin, mango, chili and lemon. My drink was so good and definitely crushable with a clean, fruity tang and zesty kick from the chili. I also want to shout out Matt’s Last Best Dirty Bird Black Lager, which he chose from an impressive list of local beers ($5 for 16 oz at happy hour). I’ve spotted a few dark/black lagers lately, especially on our soaring Alberta beer scene. I highly recommend giving one a try when you get the chance. I love getting that dark beer flavour without the heaviness of a porter, stout or similar. The Dirty Bird was light on the stomach and refreshing to the palate without sacrificing any complexity. Incredible!
By the time we’d had a moment to try each other’s drinks, our food had started to arrive! We loved the paneer & honey (regularly $8, $4 for happy hour). It was seasoned and seared with kashmiri chilli and a Bengali-style garam masala (a blend of Indian spices), then drizzled with local honey and topped with crushed pistachios. Holy smokes. In Matt’s words, “this is the kind of dish that makes you sad when it’s over”. Paneer (an Indian cheese) has a very mild flavour and holds its shape rather than melting when heated, so it was a perfect, chewy vessel for the spices, honey and nuts. Easy to share, a pleasure to eat and an affordable little snack, especially during happy hour!
Our server pushed us towards the chilli chicken (regularly $13, $6.50 for happy hour), which ended up being a generous portion. It had a reasonable spice level without being too overwhelming, the chicken was crispy and moist and the sauteed peppers added a nice texture to the dish. I found the glaze a little too salty for myself personally, but this was not a bad option. We’d come craving Indian food and if we’d given ourselves a little more time to read the description before hastily catching the happy hour deal, we would have seen that this was a dish with Hakka (read: Chinese) origins. Well-executed, just not what we were looking for.
CCC has arranged their menu from smallest to largest plates, so the next section was kati rolls. (Remember those delicious wraps from my last Singapore post?) We went for the ground lamb keema ($8) with lime, onions, chaat masala (a spice blend), green chilies & Maggi Hot & Sweet (a spicy tomato chilli sauce). This was quite spicy, so we were glad we’d agreed to an extra $2 for the sauce our server recommended – the yogurt-based cilantro-mint-kale chutney cooled the whole thing down very nicely.
The next section of the menu was “Curries” and we unanimously agreed on ordering the Trout Malai ($15), a gorgeous dish made with Oceanwise-approved steelhead trout and an absolutely drinkable coconut-cilantro curry. The perfectly cooked fish and crispy skin were topped with fennel-orange chutney. The chutney was sweet, sticky and brightly flavoured, leaving me with a ton of marmalade inspiration for the summer! We ordered rice ($2 per person) to go with this and made sure to spoon every last drop of sauce onto our plates. After all the energy I expended lapping up every last drop of this curry, I didn’t even feel too sad that we’d stopped short of the largest “Trophy Case” section of the menu. The trout was my favourite dish of the night and I will definitely be ordering this again the next time we go in!
We were pretty full by this point, but you know I like to live large. We ended up ordering a cup of milky chai ($3.50) and the cookies and cream kulfi ($9). Kulfi is an Indian ice cream, but it’s denser and creamier than what we’re used to in the West. The cream isn’t whipped before freezing, so it forms a pretty solid block and melts very slowly. This version was surrounded by a pool of floral caramel sauce and dried rose petals as a nod to more traditional Indian dessert flavours. We really liked this and would definitely recommend giving it a try! The other desserts were quite tempting too, so I definitely see us splitting a few of these while enjoying warm summer nights on their lush side patio. (Sadly for us it was a bit too rainy that night!)
I highly recommend giving Calcutta Cricket Club (340 17 Ave SW) a visit when you’re next craving Indian cuisine, but not sure you want to commit to a more traditional meal. I also suggest going with multiple dining companions so you can try a wider variety of their highly shareable dishes. In addition to the lovely food, the interior decor is stunning and the level of service we received was attentive and unpretentious. I usually manage to think of something I didn’t like about a place when I do a review, but the only problem was me ordering a dish I wouldn’t have chosen if I’d given myself more time to read the menu – my bad! I’m already scheming about what to get the next time I go over there with a friend, like maybe the bhutta ($7) grilled corn or the lamb ribs ($17). Come for the happy hour snacks, stay for the cravable cocktails, curry and kati rolls.