Chorney-Booth: Calcutta Cricket Club enters a new era with bright new space and revolutionized menu

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Some restaurants just emerge ahead of their time. Take Calcutta Cricket Club, which opened on 17th Avenue S.W. in 2017 when a chic and fashionable Indian restaurant seemed like a bit of a novelty in this city. While the restaurant found a dedicated audience thanks to its extraordinary pastel-heavy design and delicious Bengali-style food, many Calgarians didn’t fully “get” why the city needed an Indian hotspot when there were already so many great, if not particularly “hip”, South Asian restaurants scattered around the city.

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In the past seven years, though, much has changed – both here in the city and around the world. Locally, a wider breadth of Indian cuisine has surfaced, reminding Calgarians of all cultural backgrounds that Indian cuisine offers a bounty of dishes beyond what has traditionally appeared on North American menus. On a wider scale, the idea that modern restaurants must stick to Western-informed food (or at best, “fusion”) has long gone out the window, with Japanese, Persian, Israeli, Korean, Filipino, Thai, and Indian cuisine dominating at some of the most buzzed-about restaurants in Canada and the United States.

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Calcutta
The interior of the Calcutta Cricket Club’s new location is bold and stylish. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

This means our beloved Calcutta Cricket Club has long been well ahead of the curve. When the team behind CCC (owners Maya Gohill, Cody Willis, Shovik Sengupta, and Amber Anderson) realized their run on 17th Avenue was short-lived (they knew their lease would never be long-term, which was driven home when the building next door was demolished last year), they decided to seize the opportunity to not only move into a larger, modernized space but to also overhaul its menu for a 2024 audience.

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The interior of the new Calcutta Cricket Club is darker and more subdued than before. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

CCC falls under the Thank You Hospitality umbrella. When the group decided to close its A1 Café (a great pandemic-era restaurant that sadly never found its footing) on the restaurant-rich row on 1st Street S.W., it made sense to fill the vacancy. Gohill, the artistic mind behind the restaurant’s décor, carried over much of the original CCC into the new almost 100-seat room – bold, checked floor tiles, a pastel green exterior, and Garry, the much-celebrated carousel leopard still has a place of distinction over top the bar – but the vibe is darker and more subdued, with deeper green seating, calming murals, and moody lighting. It’s still fun but signifies an evolution that reaches well beyond changing its address or the colour of the chairs.

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The Calcutta Cricket Club’s new location has a modern Indian feel. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

“We decided a long time ago that we didn’t really care about what other people thought was authentic,” says Sengupta. “We’re a Canadian restaurant as much as we are an Indian restaurant. Chef [Amit Bangar], Maya, and I are all born-and-raised Canadians with Indian backgrounds, and we looked at what that means to us and how that can translate to new dishes. It’s about doing what we want to do.”

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Many of the Calcutta Cricket Club’s menu items were dropped but favourites like butter chicken remain.Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

Sengupta says that somewhere between 70 and 80 per cent of the old menu has been swapped out. Fan favourites like Kati rolls, chips and curry, butter chicken, papri chaat, and chili chicken remain, though the recipe for the latter has been tweaked, resulting in a deeper and earthier flavour. Newer additions include a robust grilled section, with dishes like a lamb sirloin kebab served with a scoop of green herb chutney ($25), tender twice-marinated chicken served in a creamy white malai sauce ($18) and a knock-out charred cabbage in a milky Sri Lankan kiri hodi coconut gravy ($19).

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About 70 per cent of the menu items at Calcutta Cricket Club are new. But faves like papri chaat remain. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

New curry options are also available in the form of Gohill’s family’s malai prawns recipe ($20) and cod machh’er jhal, a Bengali curry featuring flavours of poppy seed and black mustard ($18). If a full family-style feast isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of small plates with new bites like a pepper-fry beef tartare served with jeera papad ($22) and kulcha bread stuffed with cheese and mushrooms ($19) for those looking for a casual meal to be paired with a few of CCC’s signature cocktails (yes, the Indian-spiced gin and tonics, old fashioned, and martinis are all still on the menu).

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Calcutta Cricket Club is located at 1213 1st St. S.W. and can be reached at 403-719-1555 or through calcuttacricketclub.com. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. A new bar called Para is slated to take over the old basement Tea House space soon.

Calcutta
The updated menu at Calcutta Cricket Club features new flavours like cabbage kiri hodi. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

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In other restaurant news, Thai Siam, the excellent Thai restaurant that opened in an unassuming location just off Edmonton Trail a little over a year ago also has a new home. After moving out of its original location last spring, Thai Siam initiated a series of pop-ups at the nearby Starr Distilling Co. The partnership has gone so well that the two businesses decided to make their union official: as of the beginning of January, Thai Siam is the full-time food provider at the distillery. Pop in for some extraordinary pork skewers or noodles along with a Thai-inspired cocktail using products from the distillery.

Thai Siam and the Starr Distilling Co. are located at 4127 6th St N.E. For reservations and more information visit thaitakeout.ca.

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Instagram at @elizabooth or sign up for her newsletter at hungrycalgary.substack.com.

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