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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The good ol' 6, Ballygunge Place got bigger and better

                                          Exterior of newly done 6, Ballygunge Place

Even 15 years back, our city, Kolkata didn't had an eatery which specialized in only Bengali food in the city of Bongs or food-loving Bengalis. In 1998, Savourites, the mother company, owned by three friends Anindya Palit, S. Ramani and Chef Sushanta Sengupta, each master of his own domain, started up a restaurant named 6, Ballugunge Place, totally dedicated to pure Bengali Cuisine, at a 100 years old two-storied bunglow of a former Rai Bahadur, at south of city, ballygunge. Keeping the old world charm of the house with minimum decor and with capacity of only 84 seats, just with the Bengali food served keeping its authenticity alive, this place soon became a popular destination of people from all walks of lives. Nobody has ever complained about the place as the food they served was finger-licking delicious all the time and they have always satisfied everyone who came to dine that place.

    But recently, the management team has decided to renovate that place and give it a complete new look keeping the architecture of the old house intact as it is. And after opening after 3-4 months, they invited My foodie Group, Kolkata Food Bloggers, to visit the newly designed 6, Ballygunge Place and I represented my group along with two other Kolkata Food bloggers.

The design :: The design for renovating this place was recruited to Abin Design Studio, one of the leading architectural firm in Kolkata, in collaboration with Square Consultancy Services. Keeping the original structure of the old house intact, designers have depicted traditional bengali art and culture  in every nook and corner of this house through their use of querky colours, motifs and simple elements to give the house a feel of a 19th century house of Bengal but with a contemporary expression. The principal inspirations came from the paintings of Lalu Prasad Shaw. The form, figure and brilliant Color compositions of his works were transliterated architecturally in the form of hand painted walls, furniture and lighting design. The second major influence that dominated the exterior and parts of first floor interior came from SAHAJ PATH, the bengali text book for Primary learners by Rabindranath Tagore which all Bengali read when they start learning the language. The imageries, once illustrated by Abanindranath Tagore that are so deeply ingrained in the minds of Bengali society, creates a sense of nostalgia and belonging and relates the visitors with the environment.
   The project involved a total upliftment of exterior, addition of floor area to house extra dining space and addition of top floor with a rooftop to accommodate the banquet service in the same house. The ground floor and first floor are used for restaurant purpose whereas top floor and rooftop are used for banquet service. Not only each floor of the house even each room has been given a slight variance so that repetitive visitors can have different dining experiences each time. While the first and the second floors use expansive black and white chequered floors that were ubiquitous in traditional mansions, the ground floor provides a predominantly rustic grey surface with patterns at the centre. Even in the decor architects have given different temperament to each floor which are very eye-pleasing and a homage to forgotten Bengal art and culture.

Ground Floor ::
Ground floor, that houses three dining rooms along with a dedicated space for the buffet, is done up in very simple manner but with specially hand-crafted haath-pakha or handfans made with bamboo or clothes, which is very much symbolic to Bengal. In the buffet area, you will see a big chandelier which is made with traditional Bengali kitchen equipments like kuruni, bonti, khunti, jhajhri etc. which is again a piece of art. I just totally loved the creativity and the thought who have thought to create such a wonderful thing with some substances nobody have ever thought of. They have now a reception-cum-waiting room (which was not before) on ground floor and the room  has been decorated with victorian style furnitures, anitique clocks and articles which give up a feel of a living room of Zamindari era in Bengal. There is a lightshade which is decked up with 2 huge handfans made with colorful cloths, is a piece of art, you should not miss that gorgeous thing if you're there.

              Ground Floor : Buffet area, handfan(haat-pakha) Decor and reception-cum-waiting area

                                        Chandelier made with traditional Kitchen equipments
First Floor ::

   First floor which is only used for A-la-carte, is decorated in a totally different manner. Each room has its own individuality and charm. Each room is so lively, so colorful that each room will tell you a different story. Once you reach the first floor, you'll be mesmerized by the grand black and white chequered floor, old styled louvred windows and arched doorways. The age-old wooden louvred windows allow filtered sunlight and creates an interplay of light-n shade. While one room is decorated with sara paintings by Mamoni Chitrakar, another rooms are painted either with work of Lalu Prasad Shaw or with shadow blocks painting inspired by Sahaj Path.
       The babu-bibi culture of yesteryear Bengal is replicated on this floor with the help of Lalu Prosad Shaw’s works, who is known for his highly stylized colorful portraits of Bengali women and couples. You can see his works on the cushions, newly designed chairs, on the walls as a framed painting. Mamoni Chitrakar did her contribution too to design some specially designed Saras(a curved earthen pitchers) in cat and fish motifs. Again 6, Ballygunge Place has given their tribute to another Bengali art - Sara Painting with Mamoni Chitrakar's works and no doubt her cheerful sara paintings are looking lovely on bright yellow walls of a dining area on this floor.

                                                    Lalu Prasad Shaw's work on the wall
                         Blocked shadow painting on a wall inspired from Sahaj Path

                      Sara Painting in cat-n-fish motifs by Mamoni Chitrakar on a wall on first floor

                                     A floor-to-ceiling patachitra by Mamoni Chitrakar

    A floor-to-ceiling patachitra by Mamoni Chitrakar brightens up the entrance of a Private Dining Room (PDR) on this floor. The picture of some rural women making pithe-puli, is illustrated in such a colorful manner. This PDR has a Victorian look with a coffee-coloured wall with a stucco finish and decorated with crystal chandelier, light cream and deep chocolate curtains and antique clocks. On the walls you can see pictures of former actresses of Bengali Cinema framed along with some antique clocks, adorning that Private dining area. This room is used for private parties or private diners.

                                                          The Private Dining Room

                     Lalu Prasad Shaw's work on Chairs, cushions and even on a wall

Sarbari Dutt, the famous dress designer, has designed the croceries of 6BP, there also you can see the touch of Sahaj path, the bengali literature. She has also designed the uniforms of the various staffs of the restaurant.

                            Showplates and actual dining plates designed by Sarbori Dutt

Top Floor & Rooftop ::
          Second or top floor and rooftop are used for banquet service and can be used for marriages, birthday parties or cocktail parties which can accommodate around 100-120 people. Savourites, the mother company, serves one of the best catering service in the city. You can ask for any dish under the sun and they will serve you.

Menu Card ::
       The menu card should have a special mention in this post, it is designed by "Inner Circle Ad agency". 6 BP has given a special touch of Bengal here too. Menu card, which is an integral part of restaurant and it is made in such an interesting manner that it will keep you occupied till your food arrives. Each dish is described in simple language, so that a foreigner can also understand what they're going to eat. Starting of every course, you'll find a poem and an elaborate description on a specific dish from that course.

                     The newly done Menu Card, description and a poem on a dish

On The Platter :: 
   The Bengali specialities on the menu are the same as before. Only few experimental Bengali dishes and a few Continental dishes have been added. Continental section which was a part of menu at the beginning, was cut off few years back. But on the request from guests, they have added a few continental dishes on the menu card again. Chef-in-charge Sujoy Halder, who has no culinary degree on his shoulder but has more than 15 years of restaurant experience on his sleeve and he proved that to be a good cook, one need experience more than a degree, here in 6 Ballygunge Place where he is serving near about 10 years now and satisfied the food-loving Bengali people with his service. Here are the new dishes he created and we sampled. And no doubt each and every dish was finger-licking delicious.

                                              The newly launched Bengali Dishes  

                                               Newly launched Continental Dishes : Grilled Fish on the bed of roasted veggies and mashed Potato and Roasted Lamb with brown sauce with roasted veggies and mashed potato along with bread and butter

The change for betterment :: (A) The house which was two storied at first, two more new floors are added and are used for banquet purpose. Now catering, banquet and restaurant all these you can get under one roof. The restaurant has a total of 4 floors, ground and first floor are used for restaurant purpose whereas top floor and rooftop are used for banquet purpose which is also very popular in the city. (B) A lift is also added for visitors specially for elderly persons so that they can enjoy their food at any floor they want conveniently. (C) Restaurant has got a new Reception-cum-waiting area at the ground floor, off course. (D) The restaurant which had 82 seats before, now has capacity to accommodate 150 persons. (E) Before, only lunch buffet were served, now it is served on lunch and dinner.

                   Staffs are in different uniform created by Sarbori Dutt : White Kurta with black pants is Captain or main steward and Brown Kurta with black pant is a regular steward

In Kolkata, you'll find 6 Ballygunge Place in Salt Lake other than Ballygunge and outside Kolkata, they are running their outlet in Bangalore and Guwahati, too. 

Pocket Pinch for 2 : Rs. 800-1200 apprx. 

So don't forget to visit this place if you're living in Kolkata or visiting Kolkata by any chance. 

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