Wanderlust…. A strong desire or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world…. So true and aptly applies to the interiors, menu and food of Café Wanderlust….Whiff of the place excited me the moment I entered the Café… I was sure that I can look forward to some great food… and I must say I was not wrong at all…

Now let me take you through my gastronomical journey in detail…..
I was a little late at the venue but I ensured I didn’t miss any of the food…

I started with the “Puchkas”… Pani puris stuffed with potato, black gram with mint jaljeera by the side. Honestly I have not had authentic puchkas of Kolkata so would not be able to comment about how close they were with the original ones… But since I am typical north Indian at heart I love my Panipuris spicy, tangy and with a little meethi chutney by the side… So as per my expectations the Jaljeera was a little bland and could have been more spicy, tangy and chatpata….

It gains more importance as the puris where stuffed with both potato and chana so they require spicier jaljeera to balance the textures..  I would suggest they could keep two or three different kind of jaljeera to suit different palates. On the whole I did like it but puchkas could definitely be better.

Next in line was the Benarsi Samosa Chaat….. Cute small samosas stuffed with tangy potato mix served as chaat with chole, sweet chutney, tangy green chutney, curd and loads of chopped onion for the crunch…

I still have a very clear impression of the explosion of flavours in my first bite.. Waao.. one of the best dishes and a must try at this place. Perfect balance of flavours and textures… I have had samosa chaat earlier too,  but unlike this one they tasted predominantly of samosas served with two or three chutneys and not like a chaat.. which is a right melange of few basic but essential ingredients and that is where this Benarsi samosa chaat has a hands down win…

Next was Poha matar Chaat.. a very simple yet flavourful dish. It was essentially mix of fried poha (beaten rice flakes) with soft succulent green peas mixed with plain bhujiya and onions with very basic spices. For me the best part and which made me liked the dish was the soft green peas unlike regular places where the peas are boiled and used but in this dish the peas where cooked with very minimal spices  and then used so the peas where soft juicy but also had a flavour.. which was very interesting.

In the mean while Thandai were served to us… again very flavourful … One could get easily get the flavour of black pepper, almonds, cardamom, pistachios and saffron. The good thing was that ingredients were not grinded to a very fine paste but had a bite which gave a great texture to the drink..

Now comes the food the Kachori platter.. I think for me the usp of the platter was the dip platter. The dips were awesome.. whether shredded apple and cinnamon golden thick chutney or amrud and amla green tangy chutney  or the white garlicky peanut dip, or the chatakedaar cranberry rather ber ki chutney which made me remember the churanwala outside my school selling different neon coloured tangy, sweet, sour churans with amrak and imli…or the methi chutney which was very close to the original chutney served with kachoris in Benaras. All the dips were fresh and you can easily make that out from the very first spoon you have it. Along with dips aloo tamatar ki subzi very authentic and tasty and it complimented the kachoris well. The sitaphal or pethe ki subzi did not suit my palate as I prefer and it a little sweet, spicy and sour all flavours together which was missing from it. The kachoris were fresh, crisp golden brown hot and just perfect. You could feel the mother’s touch in every bite. A very comforting dish which made me feel nostalgic.

Now is the Mushroom and Cheese Crepe.. I think it was an instant hit with everyone… soft luscious creamy  cheesy crepe stuffed with mushrooms was to die for. Plain simple no nonsense salt and black pepper being the only spices being used along with perfectly grilled veggies and two dips made it a complete meal by itself. Again a must try at this place.

Now another favourite at this place the “Vada Pao” typical Bambiya vada pao with a very authentic red garlic chutney was very nice. Although the pao could have been softer but I still would love to have it again. It was rightly spiced tangy and hot. After having it I realised why was it loved by so many people and why is it such a rage. Now I agree it was not overhyped it deserves the accolades it got. Nothing but awesome!!!!!!!!!!

Then I tasted the special adrak ki chai which I was craving for long…… served in a typical roadside kaanch ka gilaas and aluminium kettle… was nothing but the best.. adrak brewed perfectly with the right amount of sugar and right mix of milk and water was just the best. I personally felt it was better than the chai I had at chayos… The chai is to die for for a teaholic like me…. I wud go there again just to have their chai… for sure

By this time I was full so I just tasted what came next the deep dish pizza, American giant burger and desserts.
 The deep dish pizza in spite of being vegetarian was very interesting as it was not a regular cheese capsicum onion tomato pizza. It had a great crust along with rightly sautéed chopped vegetables with great flavours and cheese. Although honestly I prefer the authentic Indian food over the pizza having said that it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the pizza was just that I loved Indian food much more. The American giant burger was a whooping huge burger looked very heavy and sufficient for one person. It was juicy succulent and very nice.

Now is the final leg the desserts. The dessert platter had Red velvet cake, Pineapple cake, Matka rabri, Banarsi launglata, Pain au chocolat and cinnamon tea cake. I personally loved the red velvet cake it was soft creamy and with right amount of sugar… one of the best Red velvet cakes I have had.  I didn’t like the pineapple pastry much as I found it a little dry… The banarsi launglata was gud as it was warm and not over sweet.. but for me the best dessert was the matka rabri..thick luscious  chilled served in small matka was delicious..

To sum up my entire experience I wud say the hassile mehfil for me on this trip was Banarsi samosa chaat, Vada pao, andrak ki chai and Kachori platter. The entire feel at the café was very relaxed laid back, where one can just sit let go himself talk their heart out and feel eased out.. for the silent ones like me there is a good collection of books just catch hold of a book and sit back just unwind with simple yet great food. In all a great experience and a must try place…

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Review by Chhavi Krishna 

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