Located in a residential hub of South Kolkata, lies a new gastropub by the name of Hola, which means “hello” in Spanish. While the area has seen quite a number of cafes springing up beyond the established restaurants, there isn’t much global cuisine on offer.
Started by the young couple Ankit and Aarunima Dhawan, Hola aims to change that by bringing in oriental, continental, Italian, Indonesian and north Indian cuisines.
Walking up the stairs, one’s eyes fall on the bicycle on the wall and the wheels with bulbs on the centre of the ceiling. This theme continues into the restaurant, where an entire row of individual stools are bicycle seats, with a pedal acting as a foothold.
The fine dining space boasts of six separate cubicles with televisions attached, a long table and a honey-combed ceiling. A small stage is set in the middle where music performances are held on weekends.
The first item served was the vegetarian Manchow Soup made Peking style, along with fried noodles and a magic dumpling floating on top. Thick and creamy in texture, the noodles added a crunch to the delicious, hot soup.
The Barbeque Cottage Cheese Bao was plated rather unusually in an open-ended wooden enclave. The bao itself was made of lotus flour and the cottage cheese, broken into tiny blocks, just melted in the mouth as the barbeque and teriyaki sauces added their own flavours.
Two mocktails — Kolkata Magic and Spicy Twist — were brought to wet the palette. While the former is a green, tangy, tongue twister that leaves behind a refreshing and delicious aftertaste, the latter hits the throat instantly! The chilli lends the fire while the masala is in just the right tantalising amount, leaving one wanting more. Then again, this is recommended only for the chilli tolerant folk!
However, the dish that will leave one’s mouth dripping with saliva is the Hola Special Chicken Kebab. The tandoor kebab is marinated in a continental manner, giving the dish its fusion identity. The slight gravy drizzled on top adds a creamy undercurrent to the grilled flavour of the kebabs. It is served with salad and fried papad on the side.
Chicken Risotto with Tomato Cheese Sauce is, in one word, mushy! The slightly teasing hard texture of the Arborio rice adds a crunch to the melt-in-your-mouth cheesy heaven. When taken with the freshly baked garlic bread, one will not be willing to share it with others. Grilled Fish on a bed of Pea Puree was a sight to look at. Lying on a green bed, the crispy exterior of the fish gave in to reveal the soft, chewy delicious interiors.
The Chocolate Salami is a must try for all dessert lovers. The salami shaped blocks are made out of dark chocolate, almonds and cashew nuts, while garnished with a thick dollop of chocolate sauce and caramelised pralines. A hard bite reveals delicious chocolaty insides, with a nutty, crunchy edge —absolutely sinful!
While the focus of a restaurant is mainly food, in today’s changing times, more thought is being put into the decor and plating, and Hola is a shining example of this emerging trend. With plates coming in diverse shapes and sizes, a multitude of colours, and even varying material, they allow for a different sort of eating experience!