Comics is an interesting new theme restaurant that has come up in the heart of south Calcutta, near Menoka Cinema. Fifteen years ago this would have been a most unlikely place for Charlie Brown, Jughead Jones, Tintin, Asterix and Obelix and all our other favourite characters to be presiding over a strictly Continental and trans-Atlantic menu, but times have changed in matters culinary and definitely for the better.
Bright colours and the company of all these charming people who are on every wall and nook and cranny give the restaurant a cheerful feel. The tables are made of slate and there is a box of chalk on each. Guests can doodle or play noughts and crosses on the table tops while waiting to be served. A quick wipe when the food arrives and you’re all set.
The beverage menu takes the theme even further. The Popeye Drink is spinach juice (of course) plus mint, lemonade and ice cream. There is Jughead’s Fruit Overload (a thick and creamy fruit drink with peaches and nuts), Magic of the Gauls (Mountain Dew, grenadine, orange juice, lime juice and other secret ingredients) and Captain Haddock’s Choice (non-alcoholic lager with tomato juice and lots of ice). A bit of a stretch, this, because I never knew that grand old seafarer to prefer anything non-alcoholic.
Once you get to the food menu, the kidstuff ends. There is no attempt to elaborate on the restaurant’s theme here — either in the names or nature of the dishes, and this is of course a wise move because once the serious business of eating begins, there must be no kidding.
| The spread at Comics. Picture by Rashbehari Das
It is a well-crafted menu, keeping traditional favourites side by side with newer trends. Mexican items, along with items from Creole and New Orleans cuisine and lesser exposed Mediterranean regions are the more contemporary trends in Calcutta’s restaurants and these have been well represented, at the same time keeping time-tested favourites such as Fish and Chips, Mixed Grill, Fish Florentine, Chicken a la Kiev and Lamb Chops. The menu sections are starters (veg and non veg), soups and salads, pastas, veg entrees, seafood, sizzlers, meat and chicken entrees, good classifications. Practical and easy to find your way around.
Signature dishes at Comics include the Spicy Corn and Sundried Tomato Tart (a vegetarian starter), which is a freshly baked short-crust tart stuffed with corn kernels sauteed in olive oil with garlic, pimento and sundried tomatoes. It is served with Tomato Coulis — slowly baked tomatoes mixed with fresh oregano, seasoning and olive oil. Prawn cocktail has emerged as another favourite in Comics. They do it the classic way — blanched tiger prawns mixed with the cocktail sauce used for various seafood salads (mayonnaise, Tabasco, ketchup, a dash of brandy and seasoning). Served in a margarita glass and garnished with olives, they do this really well and personally it is among the best I have had.
The Barbecued Pork Chop has a Mexican slant to it. Pork chops are marinated in red wine, herbs, seasoning and pineapple paste. It is grilled, placed on a bed of grilled potatoes, onions and served with pineapple salsa (chopped pineapple, chillies, coriander, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, saffron and olive oil).
The mixed grill at Comics is served as a sizzler and is probably the heartiest you will ever have. I could not finish it and that is a rarity! Lamb and pork chops, bacon, sausage, chicken breast, fish fillet and, as with all their sizzlers, served with corn scramble and vegetables. Other interesting items on the menu are Creole Fish, Meat Fingers with Spicy Massaman Sabayon (a starter), Crabmeat Bisque (a soup), Lebanese Fatoush and Crepe a La Portuguese (a vegetable entree). Among the desserts, Apple Pie with Ice Cream and Date and Almond Tart are items that would have anyone feeling suitably guilty.
45 S.R. Das Road is the exact address of Comics and if you pass Menoka Cinema on your right, it is the third or fourth lane to the right.