When Late Jiban Krishna Saha became the owner of Mr. Allen’s restaurant in the late 19th century, had he any idea that more than 130 years later this place would be one of the favorite drooling dens for the food lovers of the city? Well, that we will never know. But we can always visit Allen Kitchen to taste the finest fries which made them what they are today 🙂 The current address, which started as a branch more than 50 years ago (in the year 1958 to be precise), is now their only outlet serving delicious Prawn, Fish and Chicken items.
Allen Kitchen got its name from the Scot Mr. Allen, but the Sahas made it what it is today. The Special Prawn Cutlet, which, according to the foodies, is the best in the city, was invented by Jiban Krishna Saha and is a hot favorite still today! I was sitting with Mr. Goutam Saha, the great grandson of the founder and the fourth generation at Allen Kitchen as he was sharing some info about the place. The eatery is currently run by Manicklal, Hiralal and Biren Saha, three grandsons of Jiban Krishna, Hiralal’s son Dipak and Biren’s son Goutam.
Without hesitation I started my journey with the famous Prawn Cutlet. Inside the Ghee fried covering the juicy prawns and the soft filling actually melts in the mouth. Pure delight! What I liked best, it was really very juicy, appropriate for a prawn dish. While enjoying the cutlet I started reading their menu card.
Compared to millions of small eateries in the town, the menu at Allen is quite short. But you will have a tough time deciding what to order. Of course the Prawn Cutlet is the all time favorite, but the Fish Cutlet, Fish Roll, Chicken Stack or Devil are nothing less satisfying. Most of their special items are fried in Ghee (clarified butter) and not oil, which adds to the taste. Ask for a recipe and you will hit dead end instantly. They are well kept secrets and the main tasks are handled by the family members only.
Allen Kitchen is a favorite name among Kolkata foodies but the family behind it is not very keen for publicity. They know their job very well and they prefer to do that only. But surely they have become synonymous with food and restaurant. Goutam Saha started his career as a chef in a five star Mumbai hotel and Manicklal’s son Debabrata is a successful restaurateur in Toronto, Canada (Popular as Debu Saha, he owns Debu’s Nouvelle Indian Cuisine and The Biryani House). Goutam Saha have also started a multicuisine catering service and we can hope to enjoy some Allen specialties at our private parties too 🙂
Next it was turn for yet another Ghee fried specialty. The Fish Cutlet! Great taste, good size and fat filling. Boy! I loved it 😛 Just look at the image and you can have an idea of how fat the fish fillet is. It is not the regular fry or cutlet where the fillet is slim and the remaining portion filled up with keema masala.
The restaurant was initially in Allen Market on Chitpur. The current address (40/1, Jatindra Mohan Avenue) started as a branch. The old shop in the meantime was shifted to a new place nearby and finally closed down early 1992. For the seasoned Calcutta foodies Allen Kitchen needs no introduction. But for the new gang let’s see how we can reach this place.
From the Sovabazar Metro / Grey Street (now Aurobinda Sarani) four point crossing start walking towards Girish Park taking the left side footpath. Leaving three narrow lanes to the left and walking for about 3 minutes will take you in front of a green colored gate with the Allen Kitchen board hanging from it. It’s a small place with the outer room serving as the kitchen and a inner dining room. Do not expect anything flashy. Just order some great food which are served cleanly and enjoy the heavenly taste. The place remains open from 4pm to 9pm, but try to reach before seven if you don’t want to hear out of stock while ordering anything.
Six pieces of ghee fried fish pakoras were what I was attacking next 😛 I just wanted to try all the items in the menu. But both the pocket and my stomach refused to support me. They were moving in the opposite directions and I was forced to order the last dish 🙁
I was asking Goutam da about the new additions in the menu and he advised Chicken Stack. I liked the name and liked the dish more as it arrived. Minced chicken fried and then cooked on a light, sweet gravy with onions. It looked like a lighter version of Chicken Afgani, though was quite different in taste mainly because of the gravy. A must try 🙂
I will be back very soon to taste the other items in the menu and write about them. Meanwhile try the delicacies yourself and let me know what you think about them. I am sure you will just love them. Happy eating 🙂
They have renovated the dining area. So its cleaner now.
Also going through the new menu card I found they have renamed Chicken Stack as Chicken Steak and I understood it was not a new name as I thought earlier, but was misspelled 🙂 Not the common steak, it was made with minced meat. Anyway what’s in the name? Enjoy it 🙂