| Anand Puri samples the fare at BB’s in Salt Lake; a band in performance at Trincas. Pictures by Rashbehari Das and Amit Datta
In 1959, Mr Ellis Joshua and Mr Om Prakash Puri became business partners when they bought a property by the name of Trincas on Park Street. They were familiar with the hospitality industry having met up while working for the Oberoi’s and through the 60s mid into the early 70s when Park Street was in its prime, Trincas was arguably the most happening place on this incredible thoroughfare, setting enviable standards of entertainment and becoming a Mecca for musicians from all over the country.
Apart from music there was cabaret, ventriloquism and comedy. There were magicians and fire eaters and one guy who actually ate stuff like ball bearings, car tyres, glass bulbs and other nutritious substances right there on stage while people wined and dined in an ambience that was elegant and cultured.
Sunday afternoons were for the teen brigade. From 4 pm to 7 pm, there was just about enough room to breathe. The music of The Beatles, The Monkees, Dave Clark Five, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Sam the Sham, Herman’s Hermits, The 1910 Fruitgum Company and many others was our staple diet and the band that had the longest and most successful run during these “jam sessions” or “Gaylord’s sessions” as they were called was the Flinstones.
Several people who performed in Trincas in those days went on to win national and international acclaim and the names of Usha Uthup (then Iyer) and Biddu Appaya come most readily to mind. Biddu came with a band called The Trojans and later returned to Trincas as a solo performer calling himself the Lone Trojan. He made headlines when he produced the worldwide hit by Carl Douglas called Kung-fu Fighting, and in late the 70s came again to Trincas when a documentary film on him was being shot.
When nightlife on Park Street ' entertainment wise ' came to a virtual standstill, Trincas was the only place that never stopped playing live music. Not for a single day. Things are picking up again and although the magic of the 60s cannot be recaptured, one never knows what the future holds.
In terms of food, we were too busy soaking up the atmosphere to remember much, but their sizzlers were a trademark, as was a seriously fiery dish called Chimoo Aunty Curry and Rice, which I think was a lunchtime special.
Forty-six years down the line the grandson of Mr Om Prakash Puri, Anand Puri, has set up a place in Salt Lake called BB’s. Like many restaurants in our part of the world, BB’s offers different styles of cuisine, but is unique because of the combination they have chosen. North Indian, Oriental, Italian and South Indian has to be a first for the city.
Situated on the ground floor of the Millennium City Building, DN 52 Sector V Salt Lake, BB’s is a well and practically designed place with interesting posters on the walls, a glass-fronted kitchen where guests can see the Italian, South Indian and North Indian fare being cooked up (the Oriental kitchen is in a separate area) and, true to tradition, a small stage at the far end of the restaurant where there is bound to be some live entertainment sooner rather than later.
The menu is extensive and diners are spoilt for choice. I have tried items from the Italian and Oriental selection and the food is wholesome and positively good to eat. Konjee Crispy lamb, a popular starter in many Calcutta restaurants, is done well here. Finely shredded mutton is seasoned with salt and pepper and marinated in the egg-corn flour batter with which it will be coated when fried. It is fried and kept and when an order is placed it is fried again to make it extra crisp.
The light Thai soup ' Tom Yam (I had the one with prawns) is also clean-tasting and goes down well, though it could do with a bit more body. The Satay Chicken served with peanut sauce and the flat Pad Thai noodles with seafood, chicken and whole peanuts were other enjoyable items. Pizzas and pastas constitute the main part of the Continental menu, and there are some nice temptations under Starters, Salads and Light Bites such as Potato Corn Salad, Cheesy Corn on Bread, Mixed Mediterranean Vegetables and Spanish Rice. I tried the pizza topped with jalapeno chillies and olives and it was light and tasty, not at all doughy, with a good blend of cheeses that they do.
The north Indian selection is also extensive, with many items over and above what one would normally expect such as Chicken Cheese Kabab, Saag Corn, Prawn Malai Curry (the lone Bengali item) and Fish Achari.
The most compact selection is the south Indian one with about half a dozen dosas, three or four kinds of uttapam, idlis, vadas and uppama. The attractive feature of BB’s is the pricing. For the quality that you get and the understanding of food that they have, which is not surprising given Anand Puri’s lineage, the prices are reasonable indeed.