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Kolkata Local: Have You Been To This Auto Themed Food Hub Yet?

Coffee, food and love for motor sports are the three pillars on which Caffeine ‘n’ Carburetors stand

This automotive themed eatery also holds live telecasts of Formula One champioships
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Are you a petrolhead and keen to meet others of your ilk in Kolkata? Then you must head to Caffeine ‘n’ Carburetors, located near Minto Park, on a Sunday. This is when C'n'C's Paddock Club operates with exclusive live screening of Formula One championships, gourmet cuisines and an open bar. For a city known for its affinity with football and cricket, it may come as a surprise to find that Kolkata has a fair share of motor racing fans too.

Said Raghav Khullar, chef and owner of Caffeine ‘n’ Carburetors, “This is a passion project that stemmed from my family's travels to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England, where we found ourselves surrounded by great conversation and the smell of unburnt fuel. Upon our return, we would spend the afternoon procaffeinating at the Ace Café in London, with crisp black coffee and croque monsieur.” For the uninitiated, London’s Ace Café is a renowned motor café, founded in 1938.

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The decor is a blend of retro and contemporary details

But that does not mean you will bypass Caffeine ‘n’ Carburetors if you are not a motor racing fan. We were there on a weekday and to our delight discovered that it is a pleasant dining spot, a food hall with six live kitchens, each serving a specialty cuisine. Sprawling across 7,000 square feet, Caffeine ‘N’ Carburetors consists of a 120-seater food hall on the first of the two-level hall and a ‘shisha’ lounge on the second. 

Opening distinct restaurants runs in Khullar’s family with his grandfather (Rajpal Khullar) opening Amber and his father (Deepak Khullar) opening Zaranj, two well-known restaurants in Kolkata. So when it was his turn, young Raghav Khullar, who had gathered experience working as a cook for Michelin-star restaurants like Belon and New Punjab Club in Hong Kong, and as a stagiaire for kitchens in Europe, wanted to create a space that adapts to the ever developing palate of consumers.

“I aspired to create an experiential dining space,” said Khullar. “Caffeine n Carburetors as the name goes is a food-hub which blends my passion for gastronomy and my father’s passion for automobiles.”

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The most popular photo corner

It is impossible to avoid the huge Shelby Cobra parked to one side of the entrance and guests could be seen stopping to take pictures right away upon entering. The hall was spacious and airy, with a festoon of racing flags adding colour to the otherwise monotone colour palette. A long glass wall running along one side of the hall offered a look at the Kolkata street scene while the live kitchens occupied the other end. 

The six live kitchens consisted of Columbia-based Cafe De Columbia (sandwiches, hot dogs, sliders, etc. and a wide range of coffees), a South African brand called The Toad (serving a range of European dishes), The Afghan (north-western frontier cuisine, north Indian dishes), Karnataka’s Iyengar’s Tiffins (a variety of south Indian cuisine), SOI (serving south Asian street food and mains), and Wonka’s (coolers and freak shakes).

And we were spoiled for choice. Probably a freak shake would help us keep our cool and decide on the dishes? So Captain Crunch it was from Wonka’s. A wholesome blend of strawberry, popcorn and cereal.

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Poh Pia Tod from SOI

We started with Poh Pia Tod (rice paper and pak choy wrapped spring rolls stuffed with seasonal vegetables) and Kai Hor Bai Toey (chicken steamed in a paste of bird eye chillies, galangal, lemongrass and red Thai curry wrapped in pandan leaves). 

We found the Hasselback Potatoes (served with brown butter, sour cream and parsley) quite convenient to ease from Oriental to European, which consisted of Herbed Cheese Rolls (a traditional cheese roll with jalapeno and pimentos served with a mayo dip) and Tacos de Pollo (shredded smoked chicken, black bean, pico de gallo, crema).

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Philly Chicken Sliders from Cafe De Columbia

The large eaters among us decided to have a round of Chicken Hot Brown Sandwich (steamed chicken tossed in Espagnole sauce, topped with honey mustard and pimentos) and Philly Chicken Sliders (BBQ chicken patties with cheddar cheese, rocket leaves and herbs).

The rest of us nibbled on Murgh Angar Tikka (chicken marinated in yoghurt, degi mirch and earthy spices finished off cooked in a charcoal pit).

As we travelled between the food counters and our table, we gleaned some interesting motoring trivia from the framed posters. The pool table at one end of the hall was a popular hangout for the young office crowd.

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Framed posters feed the fans with motor racing trivia

Promising ourselves that we would be returning soon to sample some of the other dishes, we decided to conclude our meal with Colombian coffee. While the tried and tested Cappuccino (espresso with a perfect blend of steamed milk and foam enhancing the light and flowery taste of the coffee) was my choice, others opted for Spanish Latte (espresso, scalded milk and caramalised condensed milk) and Affogato (scoop of vanilla gelato drowned with an espresso).

And if you want to work from a relaxed setting, they also have a micro co-working space equipped with a printer and a coffee vending machine.

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Address: Caffeine n Carburetors , 6 Hungerford Street (Opposite Birla High School), Kolkata -700017; open between 12.50pm and 10pm.

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