Bodhi Tree Boutique Guest House
An oasis in the middle of chaos. That describes the Bodhi Tree Boutique Guesthouse. What a great place. It is in south Kolkata in Swiss Park. Off on a side street it is quiet in a city of constant noise. It is also an art gallery. There is a metro station within an easy walk that will take you into the center of Kolkata.
The room was well appointed, clean and had loads of personality. The room was filled with artwork and ornate furniture. The AC was a life saver after a very hot day walking around the city.
The hotel is really small, so you get to know the staff and other guests almost immediately. The young man that is the manager, Santu Dutta, has been nothing but polite and helpful every time we have talked. The two fellows that seem to be in attendance 24/7 and do the breakfast have been most accommodating while trying to help out finding food that is within Debbie’s dietary repertoire.
The one downside to the hotel is that the front gate/door is padlocked all the time. We understand the necessity of this practice, but if there happened to be a fire, getting out the front door may be an issue.
We have been lucky the last few trips we have made and found a couple of ‘funky’ places to stay. The Bondi Tree definitely qualifies as one of those ‘funky’ places.
Blue Sky Cafe
The Blue Sky is located on Sutter Street, the epicentre of the tourist area in Kolkata. It is easily located. There is a constant turnover of patrons and it does not seem to ever be empty. Most of the guests are tourists. It has a relaxed atmosphere. The menu is varied with a lot of standard western and Indian dishes. Our experience was that the Indian food was very good and it came to the table hot. The prices were pretty standard. It is worth a visit and would make a good fallback eatery.
It was lunch time and we were wandering around Kolkata, we looked at our photo copied pages of a travel guide to see what restaurant possibilities were in the area. The Amber was only a few blocks away so we thought we would give it a try. We knew the place was a bit fancy for our needs when a door man met us and let us in. Oh well, we’re hungry and here now, so let’s give it a try.
First, the AC temperature was set really low and we damn near froze while our shirts dried, but after a while we acclimatized and it was no colder than a fall day in Canada. The staff was very attentive, we had at least 2 waiters at our beck and call. They took care of our every need and in a prompt manner – it was almost too much.
We ordered one of our stock lunches and it came to the table hot. The food was pretty average. It was not presented in any fancy fashion and was quite ordinary in taste. The staff again got points as they did serve us from the hot dishes.
In the end we ended up paying about twice what we had been paying in less fancier restaurants. We do not think the extra attention by the staff and the ordinary food was worth the premium we paid.
The restaurant itself was not too busy. It seemed to have a big take out business. The whole time we were at our seats only one other couple sat down, but several people dropped in, picked up food, paid and left.
The biggest problem we had was that we looked at the menu written on the chalkboard, chosen what we wanted to order and when the waiter came to take the order he had to explain that only the items that had a check mark beside them were available that day. We presume the available items changed on a daily basis and it was easier to leave the entire list of possibilities on the chalk board and add ticks for what they had rather than redo the board each day. Minor inconvenience and lesson learned.
Anyway, once we matched our requests with what was available the food was cooked as we waited. It arrived at our table piping hot and was tasty, if not abit too spicy. The prices were slightly less than average. The decor left a little to be desired, it was rather tattered actually, but we were there to eat and we accomplished our goal.
When we travel, we usually eat at the restaurants recommended in travel books. In a big city where the number of choices is overwhelming, it takes away some of the guess work. We had our photocopied list with us and had chosen a restaurant close to where we were. We were not far from the Dustarkhwan restaurant; it looked good so we thought we would give it a try.
It was a very good gamble. It is located in a slightly sketchy neighbourhood but the restaurant is great. The time was about 12:30, and it had just opened for the day. The place already had a few customers. The room had AC and was a good reprieve from the sweltering heat. We were greeted by a very congenial waiter that was efficient but not at all pushy. Between his marginal English and our less that marginal use of the few words we had learned in India we got a very good meal – fried dal, tikka chicken kabobs, and rice. The meal was very tasty, hot and one of the best meals we had in Kolkata. The price was about the average we had been paying.
We had eaten at the Amber/Essence earlier and noticed the Bayleaf. It looked like an interesting place, so when our path took us near we decided to eat lunch there.
We liked the eatery. It was in reasonably good repair and was air conditioned. The staff was nice and attentive. The waiter went across the street to purchase a Coke Zero for Debbie. The menu is varied. The food arrived hot and was very good. The prices are average for food in Kolkata.
Port Lounge (Kolkata Airport, International Terminal)
With a 10 hour layover and no desire to brave the downtown crowds or heat, we decided to hang out at the airport. Not much to do there and we were trying to vary our experiences, so we ate dinner at the dining lounge on the second floor of the international terminal.
We were the only ones in the restaurant so the waiter had lots of time to attend to us. The menu was Indian and Chinese food. Several of the items on the menu were not available so we had to alter our order a couple of times. When the food arrived it was hot, but was quite ordinary and definitely not in the running for the best meal we ate in Kolkata.
The waiter was good and he did his best to work with what he had. I think the restaurant was trying to be a bit upscale – when the waiter delivered the food he served it. For an airport restaurant, that seemed a bit of overkill.
The cost of the food, on the menu, was not out of line but when the bill came there was tax and some other charge (maybe a service charge) added so the final cost of the meal was by far the most expensive meal we ate in India, and was definitely not worth the extra.
We would not go back, and would suggest that unless you are in dire straights, you would do better to frequent the kiosks on the lower level of the terminal.