I was to meet two friends for lunch, and one of them had suggested The Coastal Macha, a relatively new restaurant that offers cuisine from coastal India. I had readily agreed as I wanted to further my experiences of tasting the delicacies that our nature-nourished western and southern coastal regions offer. There was a time when I used to think Indian food below the belt was dosa and idli. But then I grew up. So on the auspicious day of 23rd January, I reached the destination a little after 1 in the afternoon. The restaurant is aptly located in Southern Avenue, just next to KMC’s Swimming Pool, to give us a nice Coastal feeling. The man guarding the entrance jumped to attention and opened the door for me. So I understood at least one of my friends had already arrived. Both being revered food critics in the Kolkata culinary circle and beyond, they receive ishpecial attention from the staff. A short flight of stairs decorated with colourful paper boats led me to the sitting area. Not very specious, but can accommodate 30 diners. A little dark for my comfort. I blame that on my ‘declining with age’ eyesight. Okay decor. Nice coastal touch with wicker basket lamp shades and faux sand beaches under the glass top of the tables. I tried to spot any of the baywatch men in little red swim trunks. There was none.
As I had rightly guessed, one of my friends was already there. Soon, the other friend also joined. All three of us used our Jedi mind power to make the hapless couple and their little kid occupying the bestest table finish their meals in a hurry and leave. So we moved there. Nice sunlit corner overlooking the road. Low-powered winter sun streaming in through a huge L-shaped glass sheet window. Couches and cushions. We were ready for our food and ‘jomiye adda on food’ session.
The drinks we had ordered were buttermilk, sol kadhi and sweet lime water. The last two were slightly off-balance. Sol kadhi was too thick and lime water was too sweet. Clearly not prepared by expert hands.
The Coastal Macha had just introduced pork in their menu and we were excited about that. So starter was pork pepper fry. Tender bites of fatty pork marinated in a simple blend of spices and stir fried with ground black pepper. We greatly enjoyed the medley of flavours in this dish. The pepper powder was deliciously hot and the spices added an aromatic and delightful roundness to the tender meat.
For the main course, we had ordered prawn butter garlic, bhetky malabar curry, pork pandi curry and mutton ghee roast with appam and egg appams. Prawn butter garlic and bhetky Malabar curry scored high on out taste test. The latter is a signature dish in Kerala where fish chunks are cooked in a creamy gravy of coconut and tangy tamarind pulp. Only difference was instead of mackerel, easier-to-find-in-local-market becty was used.
Next, we turned our attention to the meaty part of our lunch. The pandi curry or Coorgi style pork curry is essentially cooked with kachampuli or coorgi vinegar, a rich dark liquid extract from a fruit called kodampuli. It is also known as black vinegar and gives the dish its dark rich colour and flavour. Coastal Macha had got the dish almost right. A bit more pepper power and a bit going easy with the vinegar would have done justice to the superb quality meat. The red chilli part of the mutton ghee roast was over cooked which made the dish slightly bitter. Good quality meat though.
We got a chance to chat with young Piyush Menon, the owner of the place, over some filter coffee. He has admirable quality of being open to feedbacks. His being present in the restaurant also meant that he remains observant which is a very good thing.
If I need to sum up, I would say, very impressive array of coastal dishes that are reasonably authentic in taste, prepared with good quality ingredients, and available in a stand-alone restaurant in a good location. Definitely gets a thumbs up from me. Will I go back to taste some more pork dishes? Oh, yes!
The Coastal Macha
Address: 55, Southern Avenue, Kolkata 700029 Location Map
Phone number: +91-7059694240
Type of Cuisine: Goan, Maharashtrian, Kerala, Konkan, Mangalorean, Malwan
Liquor: Not Available
Air-Conditioned : Yes
Parking: On the road outside
Pocket pinch: Rs1200 for two (approximately)