From Global Cuisines to Indian Flavours – Milee Droog’s comeback gives a taste of everything best
In addition to its grand colonial architecture, vibrant cultural heritage and unique character, Calcutta is known for its diversity of flavours since countless eras cohabited and converged in the city. From mouth-watering street food to
In addition to its grand colonial architecture, vibrant cultural heritage and unique character, Calcutta is known for its diversity of flavours since countless eras cohabited and converged in the city. From mouth-watering street food to delectable sweets, Calcutta’s culinary feast tingles every taste bud exclusively. Calcutta, the capital of British India from 1858 to 1911, became a culinary melting pot of indigenous migrants, including Gujaratis, Punjabis, Marwaris, Sindhis, Oriyas, Biharis, and South Indians, as well as Iranian Armenians and Parsis, Russians, Jews, and Chinese refugees. The culinary culture in colonial times reflects a plethora of delicious traditional dishes from various regions. A Russian merchant and one of the earliest Europeans to travel to India, Afanasy Nikitin has described khichdi in his narrative – Khozheniye za tri moray (The Journey Beyond Three Seas). During the Mughal era, particularly under Jahangir, khichdi was a favourite dish. Seven different types of khichdi are mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari, by Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak. The meal is mentioned in Aurangzeb’s letters to his son Bahadur Shah I along with biryani.
Call it a gradual shift, if you will, but in the last couple of years, we have witnessed that food in the modern world has changed over the millennia, and we are unsure of where it will go in the future. Well, coming to the burgeoning café scene in Calcutta that is developing at a rapid clip! To satiate the constantly-evolving palates of gourmets, Calcutta’s food establishments are embroiled in bringing new flavours and cuisines from diverse regions. Besides, we wouldn’t lie if we said we didn’t enjoy the city’s lingering taste of the Soviet era’s gourmet cuisine. As foodies, we have always been delightfully impressed by the variety, flavours, and cooking techniques of Slavic cuisines. The dish called ‘Chicken Kiev’ is the most popular among Kolkatans who enjoy ‘continental’ food. It is believed to have originated in St. Petersburg in the early 1910s and was revived in Kiev in 1947 at a diplomats’ reception.
It was in 2016 Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro’s (formerly known as Milee Droog Cafe & Bistro) first outlet was opened inside the Russian Cultural Center, or Gorky Sadan as we Kolkatans know it, the fruit of Mr. Satyaki Manna’s and his Russian wife, Mrs. Irina Sergeyevna’s hard work. Milee Droog, which means ‘dear friend’ in Russian, was born as a result of Mr. Manna’s devotion to his wife, who yearned for the food she missed most from home. City-based entrepreneur Mr. Manna was once persuaded by the Russian Consulate to participate in the mega culinary event Ahare Bangla, a five-day food festival organised by the West Bengal government that features a variety of traditional and distinctive cuisines from various regions. The Russian Consulate in Ahare Bangla, in association with Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro, brought exquisite Russian dishes for Kolkata gourmands to enjoy. It was warmly received by the food connoisseurs of Kolkata, which inspired him to move forward and broaden their horizons culturally.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, put a stop to further growth prospects, compelling the outlet to temporarily close its doors. The pandemic didn’t deter Mr. Manna from considering growth strategies for his brand. In fact, the innovative mindset led to a new beginning and this time with the help of his business partners Mr. Rohan Sarkar, Mr Avik Mukherjee, Mr. Antik and Amit. With its revamped version at a completely new location, Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro has made a comeback.
Tucked in the streets of Kavi Sabitri Prasanna Chattopadhyay Road is a three-storey heritage building that has been standing for approximately 110 years, previously the site of a flag-hoisting ceremony. The owners of the house, Mrs. Rina Lahiri and Mr. Sushanta Lahiri, were formerly zamindars in the Pabna district, Bangladesh. The construction of the Howrah Bridge was spearheaded by Mr. Sushanta Lahiri’s elder brother, Mr. Sadhan Lahiri, who served as one of Martin Burn’s chief engineers. The history of Martin Burn Limited, more often known as Martin & Burn Co., can be traced back to 1890 when Sir Rajen Mookerjee and Sir Thomas Acquin Martin founded the company known as Martin Co.
The colonial-style heritage building is now home to Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro. Spread across three floors, part indoor and part outdoor, the sprawling bistro boasts a seating capacity of almost 210 people. The ground floor is dedicated to coffee aficionados who can choose from an extensive menu. It also has an outdoor area and a water fountain feature. The first floor is where the bar, an outdoor balcony area, and a glass-enclosed PDR are all located. For internal promotional movies, Russian documentaries, and videos, this area also boasts a huge screen built that is 70-80 square feet in size. A sizable dining room and a balcony are on the second floor. There are open seating areas and covered glass houses on the third floor, where the terrace is. The 110-year-old structure exhibits Romanian architecture, with large pillars holding the structure straight up in the air. The modern interpretation of the art deco culture has been given a twist by the new interior. The interior of the building features checkerboard floors, white floral designs, and pastel and lime-hued pastels. A substantial percentage of the ancient building’s flooring was restored. The colour combination of off-white and rose gold is prominent in the design elements.
Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro started off as a one-stop shop for all things Russian. This time, the debut will see progressive food items from around the world to delight the palates of gourmands. The menu of Milee Droog is carefully crafted from the “Slavic” regions, primarily Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Azerbaijan, Turkey, etc., with some Spanish and Mexican influences. It goes without saying that the two great nations of the globe, Russia and India, have an influence on the food you consume, displaying their cultures, heritage, and customs in a way that highlights their camaraderie and exhibits their relationship. In keeping with the ethos of the brand, “food to be carefully sourced and thoughtfully served,” Milee Droog is all set to enhance the experience of the guests in its 2.0 version. To suit the local palates, there is a section dedicated to the diverse flavours of India. Among their specialties are Russian Blinis, Borscht, Milee Droog’s Naan Pizza, Tuscan Grilled Polenta, Greek-style Courgette Lasagna, Coffee Licked Lamb Chops, Chettinad Chicken Keema, and Bengal’s Bhappa Bhetki, to name just a few. The commendable beverage selection boasts some of the finest collections of hot and cold coffees, brews, lattes, and whatnot, all curated by expert baristas and served with utter perfection. From Vietnamese Latte and Almond Toffee Milk Latte to Orange Cold Brew, Classic Hot Chocolate, Matcha Frappe, and specialty coffees, you will get almost anything and everything your heart desires. From the dessert section, the must-try items include Classical Tiramisu, Signature Chocolate Pot, Russian Neapolitan Cake Slice, and Berry Cheesecake.
The comeback of Milee Droog Coffee & Bistro has brought a revitalising experience to the City of Joy’s cafe scene. Milee Droog is the epitome of glitz and glamour, the place exudes unrivalled opulence. The brand’s philosophy is that fashion and food both express a story, are made with passion, and connect the customer to an artisan and an institution. Over time, a community of like-minded people has grown around Milee Droog, and for the brand, people from that community are what matter most. The cafe has been modernised to enable consumers to relate to the warmth of the brand. All in all, the brand intends to create a new benchmark for the cafe-going experience for the gastronomists in the city.
“We are serving not only our Russian cuisine but also modern Indian dishes and drinks. As we have a lot of open space, which makes the place more breathable , we will be hosting concerts, poetry sessions and many more to keep on the cultural vibe”managing partner Satyaki Manna
Price for two:Rs.1600 plus
Address:34 KAVI SABITRI PR CHATTOPADHYAY ROAD, 34, Lansdowne Ter, <kolkata, West Bengal 700026
Timings:Noon to 11:30pm