Another prolific Indian restaurant group will make its London debut this October, having originally planned to do so in 2020. Speciality Restaurants Ltd will open Chourangi at 3 Old Quebec Street — a restaurant named for an historic district of Kolkata that will serve the food of that city. It follows New Delhi company Azure Hospitality’s opening Banjarah on the former Gaylord site in Fitzrovia.
The group operates 19 brands and 130 restaurants across 5 countries, largely clustered in Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. A menu for another of its restaurants explicitly inspired by the city, Oh! Calcutta, offers fish fry, clay pot-cooked Bengali carp, maacher jol fish stew; and Awadhi biryani. There are very few explicitly Kolkatan restaurants in London, with Sejal Sukhadwala writing in her introduction to London’s best Eastern Indian restaurants:
The first thing to know about London’s Eastern Indian restaurants is that… there are not many. The second, that ‘Eastern Indian’ should not be confused with ‘East Indian’, which is a Catholic community little known outside Mumbai. Eastern India, for the purposes of this map, is Western Bengal, specifically Kolkata (formerly Calcutta); the other regional cuisines of West Bengal, and indeed other states in Eastern India, are not currently found in London.
The city is best represented in London by a clutch of Desi-Chinese restaurants, borne out of the assimilation of Hakka Chinese cuisine into the traditions of West Bengal. This tangra cuisine, is the most prominent expression of Kolkatan culinary identity in the city, with Chourangi offering the potential of something genuinely new to the city, at least since the closure of Calcutta Notebook; Little Kolkata also opened in Covent Garden last year, evolving from a popular supper club.
For property nerds, it’s the third, seemingly high-end chasing restaurant to announce an opening in this small quarter of Marylebone in recent times — Santiago Lastra’s hotly anticipated Kol will open on Seymour Place, with kaiseki specialist Roketsu heading to New Quebec Street. The Portman Estate owns much of the commercial space in the area, with an express mission to add restaurants along Quebec Street and around — will it be the first landlord-engineered dining hotspot of the late-stage pandemic era?