September 25, 2012


A very nice dinner last night at Teej, a Rajahstani restaurant in Russell Street (which, like many streets in Kolkata, is no longer called Russell Street, but is apparently known as Russell Street). A thali with lots of tasty dahl.

One frequent annoyance I find when I travel is that helpful waiters are so eager to give you whatever you want that you cannot discover what you ought to want. I’m sure that, “what’s good?” gets old fast, but sometimes we really do want to know. And despite friendly and attentive (and lavishly staffed service — at least a dozen people in front of the house for a restaurant that probably seats sixty — Teej was not very forthcoming on this point

I once asked a waiter in Stockholm which wine I ought to have with my tournedos. He replied sensibly that I should have whichever wine I thought would be pleasing, and he was not wrong. But he was not right, either, because these were clarets and burgundies I had never seen before; how was I to know?

This has been a particular problem for me here in Kolkata because I don't really know how to eat — how to order a satisfying dish, how many dishes make a meal, or even what decent table manners are.

There’s a lot to be said for a restaurant where you just walk in and they give you dinner. Sure, Kolkota is going to require some choice, because there are so many kinds of kashrut. Still, that could be managed with a word or two.