The first time I thought of writing about Mocambo Kolkata was around 2015. That draft still remains. This time around, I didn’t want to miss the chance and here is a short memoir of how Mocambo has become one of the trusted go-to place in Park Street
Park Street and the changing facade
Pa Pa Ya brought in the change in Park Street and pulled in the young crowd. Food pockets in Kolkata spread to beyond Park street, which was almost in a ventilator, barring few big names. Eventually, Au Bon Pain also closed down. HRC opened up with much fanfare and somewhere in the process, started selling food that couldn’t create the buzz. Some are not so worth bright remnants of the glorious past. Unfortunately, my all-time favourite Waldorf features in that list of bygones.
One of the big names which opened and then closed too was Au Bon Pain. Leave aside food lovers, this name will be remembered by music lovers too. It was the same place where Kolkata had one of the most visited landmark – Music World. The heritage building of Park Mansion now hosts two very well known F& B Brands – Hard Rock Cafe and Starbucks with an Apple Store in between. Perhaps, a sign of changing times. Two pillars on either side stand with glory. Peter Cat for many, is nostalgia which is not that coveted anymore for several questionable customer touchpoints. However, Mocambo, barring a major debate on customer entry, which made national news a few years back, remains the same.
The visit to Mocambo time and again
My stories of Mocambo are recent. Last 10 years, many a time, with different friends in different groups for various reasons, I have visited Mocambo. Each time, it has been on point to the extent that it has gained the trust to be referred to outsiders of Kolkata. Does it need to gain trust from me? No, and yes. Just as much the repeat customers are important for an outlet, the new customers also need to get converted to a loyalist. It was a recent Sunday morning when after a not so great breakfast experience in Park Street, we didn’t want the Sunday to go waste. We entered Mocambo. We left the place as happy as a ‘Bangali’ having Sunday Murgir Jhol for lunch.
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Star players and underdogs of Mocambo
There is Fish A la Diana which is Beckty cooked in cream sauce and stuffed with prawns. Beckty Bell Muniere is another signature dish. Interestingly, Mocambo has one of the simplest underrated menus in black and white, 5 pages of no-frills but only food. Gin fizz and gimlet are quite an attraction, while beer served in a pewter is always a feel-good factor. I wonder whether this is the only place in Kolkata other than Peter Cat, which serves beer in a Pewter.
Deviled crab is also one of our most ordered food. Although, I am told by a few Mocambo loyalists that it has become a bit more floury than before. Labeled as heritage, this is presented in a crab shell and the crab meat is cooked in cream and mustard sauce. We wanted to play the known safe playlist which can hardly go wrong. There was – Chicken Ala Kiev, Crab meat cocktail, Pork Cutlet and mixed grill.
The final words on Mocambo Kolkata and why Nostalgia is also important
In this eventful year and not a happy year for sure, this was a time travel. The red leather seats, long hanging lamps on the table with art deco separations. The spotless white turbans of the wait staff. It is one of the rare experiences in Kolkata and with time its getting rarer.I resisted ordering the north Indian delicacies . Last 5 times that I went, I have ordered Kima Curry and given a chance I can trade off all the dishes with one more plate of Kima curry.
We often lament about how Kolkata is not the top of choice destination for new Food and Bev destinations and the fact that the city is perenially wrapped in nostalgia. Agreed. However, when we have stalwarts like Mocambo, I dont think we need to bother that much..
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A Brief history of Mocambo Kolkata
On a diff note for the readers of this blog, Mocambo was started by Mr. Shivji V Kothari in 1956. Mr. Antonio Prandhe was the first chef cum manager. German architect Messeresscmidt was in charge of the decor and since then neither the decor nor the colour scheme of the place has changed. Since music was an essential part of the night clubs then, this place had a live band and some years later they had opened up a dance floor also where the dinner jacket was mandatory for entry. That’s a story for some other day.
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