Shakespeare crept up into my mind immediately as soon as I entered Chapter 2. The setting resembled a micro-auditorium or a theatre, with a stage at one end of the room and tables arranged in random fashion at the front portion of this stage. It was Saturday night and quite late in the evening when we decided to hit “Chapter 2” to grab some bite. Inside a band of 5, musicians and singer combined, were belting out English numbers. It took some time for the eyes to get accustomed to the glare of light that kept swinging to the beat of the music and hitting us right on our pupils. Having settled down, I picked up the menu card and was immediately transported back into history!
Chapter 2 promises to give back to Calcuttans a sliver of what Park Street had once stood for in the forties and right through the sixties. For someone like me, who has not been witness to the heydays of Park Street it will probably be difficult for me to make a comparision and vouch for the level to which Chapter 2 reaches in comparison to the golden era of Park Street! However for those who love their music and want to satiate their souls with music this is probably one of the place that they would love. The band playing on this particular day was belting out English numbers, something for which I really have not much of an understanding. However, judging from the few diners who shook their torsos and beat a tune on the table, I realised that people were definitely enjoying the overall experience of music that Chapter 2 was serving along with the blend of food and drink. For the ones seriously inclined to listening their particular favourite, there are request slips on each table that can be used to make a request for one’s favourite song.
Sipping my old monk I glanced through the menu card and was enriched by the bits of knowledge about the heritage that Park Street had once stood for. It made me wonder as to what Calcutta has really lost by way of a rocking party place. Park Street today is only a shadow of its former self and I couldn’t but silently applaud the efforts that Chapter 2 has made in trying to rekindle the heritage that once was.
Food at Chapter 2 is, as is usually found in such places, more of continental variety and we were happy to order a Seafood Chowder and some English fish fingers to go with the soup. The Chowder however, was slightly disappointing because it lacked the distinct aroma and flavours typical to the sea foods. The consistency too, I thought, was a little thicker than normal. It was only later that I realized that the menu had clearly spelt out that the contents of the chowder would be limited to prawns and crab ; the absence of musky seafood flavour was therefore easily explained. It was too late however to do anything other than to blame the swinging stage lights for having come in the way of my vision from reading out the detailed contents of the dishes that appeared as disclaimers on any advertisement. The English fish fingers however were quite English, crisp on the outside with the chef ensuring thy the crispiness did not get overdone and the flakiness of the bhetki took control of the taste palates inside the mouth as soon as one bit into the stuff. With the gastronomic juices now flowing like a gurgling stream, I decided to order a Ham steak. What was offered to us, complete with sauteed veggies and dollop of mashed potato was quite delicious. The pieces of ham were succulent and filled me up to my gills making me happy as a lark!
So what is my advice to would be diners who wish to make a beeline for Chapter 2? Is it the only watering hole in Calcutta that dishes music as an add on feature to the food/drinks? Trincas on Park Street still carries on the tradition that was once the hallmark of Park Street and what Chapter 2 promises to bring back. Then there is my favourite, Kalash at HHI, which has a lady rendering ghazals that promise to sooth many a soul tired with the drudgery of daily routine work life. So Chapter 2 is not unique in any way. Besides, I have never had an ear for English rock and so found the place a little too loud for my taste. The space is small and music hangs heavy in the air inside the room making conversation a little difficult task to achieve. If you are the sort, like me, who wish to dine in peace and quiet with conversation with your fellow diners being the main aim, then Chapter 2 is certainly not the place you should be heading to.
As regards the food, I would like to go back once more to try out their juicy pork spare ribs and pork chops. Other than that I don’t think there’s much to attract someone like me to this place. Even the so called “sea food” here is all about Beckti and is as insipid in variety as a moat!