June 5, 2015
If you’re in quest of a place where you can relieve stress, have fun, and chill with friends, look no further – Afraa sussed out the best places for you! The classy, dimly lit interior provides a super chill setting to kick back with friends and a few drinks, of course. This spacious restaurant in City Centre takes grub to a different level. Senior chef Sandip Acharjee flaunts his handiwork and dedication to presentation through sophisticated tapas with modern twists.
Thursday evening fifteen top foodies of Kolkata were invited to attend the Zomato Foodies meet at Afraa. It was my pleasure to meet the zomato personals face to face as well as my fellow foodies. Our evening started with choice of wine, ‘Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet’ & ‘Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay’, and my preference was Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay. Classic white wine that anyone will fell in love for its soft and pleasing melon, fresh fruit and toasted oak flavours with a smooth textural finish, just perfect. To accompany our drinks ‘Assorted Melon Stuffed with Bandel Cheese’ was served, followed by ‘Afraa Middle Eastern Platter’ and ‘Mango Chilli Feta on Papadams’. In between of all these they served a nice mocktail called ‘Coconut Lips’.
Assorted Melon Stuffed with Bandel Cheese was fresh and luscious. It pairs nicely with the white wine, a delicate infusion of cheese, melon and other fruit flavours. Afraa Middle Eastern Platter consists of Egyptian Falafel, Musabaha, Fatoush Salad, Pickled Vegetables, Cornichon Tzatziki, Muhammara, Marinated Olives, Lavosh and Pita Bread, out of which I only tried Egyptian Falafel and Pita Bread. This traditional Egyptian Falafel was turning out bit arid as a snack and Pita Bread was nothing exceptional. Chilli salsa and mango chutney twist in Mango Chilli Feta on Papadams was mild but satisfying, and balanced with refreshing palette cleansers such as Coconut Lips.
After 2-3 rounds of wine, bartenders of Afraa whip up quality classic cocktails as well as those inspired by popular flavours – like Sangria and Spritzer. In a completely interactive environment, drinks are personalised and crafted according to our mood and current preferences. ‘Pizza Afraa’ got served next; its flavours were exotic and topped with tomato sauce, basil pesto, goat cheese and pine nuts. ‘Vindaloo marinated Chicken Sticks’ with rocket tartar & ‘Chinese crisp Tahu’ were served one after another. Chicken sticks were too good, crunchy yet soft and juicy chicken melted in my mouth, felt heavenly. Chicken sticks fits well with Bell pepper Mary which got served in a hollowed out bell pepper. ‘Bell pepper Mary’ was just another version of Bloody Mary, perfect vodka cocktail to change your taste buds with a little hint of bell pepper and to be served in a specially made bell pepper mug.
Next cocktail to amaze my mind was ‘Vodka Grape Crush’ – a refreshing vodka cocktail with black grape and hint of basil. This place flows with creative drinks, both literally and figuratively, as their seasoned mixologists stand ever-ready to cater to every aspect of your cocktail needs by customising your drink.
‘Spritzer’ was served in cup, with sliced green apples and garnishing done by slice of ripe mango and an orchid, simply gorgeous. A white wine cocktail with a touch of watermelon and gandhraj lemon, felt bland as vodka grape crush was still occupying my taste buds.
My next drink was ‘Sangria’, typically from Spain and Portugal but now very popular party drink around the world. It’s a red wine cocktail with seasonal fruits and a little twist of brandy.
‘Vietnamese PHO Soup’ – rice noodles served in an aromatic broth, topped with onions, scallions, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, chillies and lime wedges with red chilli vinegar, chicken cubes, Lemongrass soy, and Galangal sticks. PHO Soup tasted awesome and will pinch your sensation with its mild spiciness, really helped in increasing my appetite. Decent flavours and there were plenty of chicken chunks.
If you need a drink to quell the spiciness, their vodka orange crush will do the trick. Funny thing was when I asked for another vodka grape crush, waiter suggest me to try out something different and I got ‘Vodka Orange Crush’ in place of grape crush, it’s a refreshing vodka cocktail with fresh orange juice and a hint of basil.
One sip and I thought ‘Apple Martini’ (Appletini) was fantastic; this 90’s surviving drink was still popular with young generation but OMG I was absolutely wrong, this Martini look alike drink was actually ‘Green Apple and Rose Margarita’. Thanks to chef Sandip, who rectified my mistake on the spot. Margarita – lovers take note! With that drink in hand, just try out their famous grilled vetki with mango pickled and it will definitely give you a very pleasant experience.
In main course, I started with seafood special, ‘Tiger Prawn & Grilled Vetki’ with mango pickled ginger green chilli dressing, served with crushed baby potatoes, greek salad sticks & stack of asparagus – baby carrot glaced with roundels of flavoured lavosh. I really liked the presentation and that they served the carrots and veggies on the side so you could mix it to your pleasing or leave out something you don’t like. Tiger prawn & grilled vetki was not only exquisitely presented but scrumptious to boot.
Next dish I tried was ‘Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Chicken’ with baked garlic and pan-fried mushroom. The chicken was great – truly a measure of excellence, flavour was unexpected and utterly delicious. The rosemary and roasted garlic chicken was a crowd pleaser as well, succulent pieces of chicken stir-fried in mild, flavourful sauce with hints of lime and garlic.
I had two more drinks before the desserts arrive, ‘Mango Daiquiri’ and ‘Winetini’. Mango Daiquiri was superb, blending of mango with rum & vodka was too good to resists. The rich mango flavour was balanced by vodka and dark rum gives it an edge. Winetini was pretty simple and straight forward mix, vodka, martini & white wine mixed with your choice of fruits and it gives a nice after kick. If you want to get High, then definitely consider giving this one a try!
In desserts we were served trio of ‘Chocolate Jalapeno Mud cake’, ‘Mascarpone quenelles’ with ‘Orange Basil ice cream’. The texture and taste of the Chocolate Jalapeno Mud cake was beautiful and definitely made a lovely dessert to finish off the meal. Orange Basil ice cream was like a couple strolling down the beach, it was sweet, appropriate for anytime of the day, a surprisingly delicious combination of flavours and melts as the temperature rises. It’s accompanied with edible chocolate cup; I ate mine after finishing the ice cream.
Thanks again Zomato for this complementary treat, an unforgettable evening with food, drinks and new friends.
N.B. – Zomato kindly invited me to their event ‘Foodies Meet’ at Afraa, City Centre.