Monday, 30th October 2017

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browse, buy, sip and bite — at Sienna Cafe

  • Published 17.12.15
Tanusree Shankar checks out the scarves on display. 

What: Sienna Store and Cafe
Where: 49/1 Hindusthan Park
Open: 11.30am to 8pm; the cafe operates till 10pm. Monday closed

Hindusthan Park has long become a hub for the urban shopper with a taste in traditional wear. After Fabindia, Byloom, Khadder, Tia Pakhi, Bunkari and Bhumisuta in the neighbourhood, here comes Sienna. The third outlet of the retail label (the two earlier ones being in Jodhpur Park and Salt Lake), spread over 800sq ft, adds a delicious excuse to drop by — a 20-seater cafe that serves fusion food. 

Madeleines and Financiers from the bakery of Shuktara Cakes, the French confectioners, at Sienna. Eggless variants are also available. 

The retail brand of Confetti, a ceramic workshop near Santiniketan, Sienna was conceived by the mother-daughter duo of Shanta and Sulagna Ghosh in 2000 with a vision to revive the art of handmade ceramics and handloom textiles. It stocks artisanal products with a contemporary look and use, using traditional materials and methods. “My mother runs the workshop in Daronda village, 13km from Santiniketan, where clay, cane and dokra products are made, other than glazed ceramic. We have also started a block-printing textile unit there,” says Sulagna, the young owner of Sienna Store and Cafe in Hindusthan Park. The decor has an earthy chic feel with exposed brick walls covered in places with hand-painted ceramic tiles.

An eye-catching exposed brick wall dotted with wooden photo frames at Sienna Cafe and Store; Rita Bhimani strikes a pose.

The food has a high-on-health, home-made vibe. The reason is not far to seek. The menu has been drawn up by Sulagna’s mother Shanta, described as “a fabulous cook” by the guests who dropped by on the inaugural evening. “We bake our own bread. Our peanut butter is made at home too. The vegetables are sourced from the farm Organic Mandi. We will change the menu seasonally so that the vegetables are fresh all the time,” promises Sulagna.

Full-length ties and bow ties created from left-over garment pieces add a casual and colourful touch to formalwear. For Rs 250 and Rs 45 respectively. 
Be it the Hummus on Toasted Bread, Capsicum with Mutton Keema Stuffing, Cranberry and Walnut Bread or Clear Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, Carrot, Baby Corn and Mushroom — each item, cooked following Shanta Ghosh’s recipe, makes you want more.
The mother-daughter duo of Shanta and Sulagna Ghosh serve musician and food critic Nondon Bagchi at the unveiling.

Sudeshna Banerjee
Pictures: Shuvo Roychaudhury


Ahead of the festive season, French consul-general Damien Syed (picture right) lent a hand at Shuktara Cakes, which trains young adults with disabilities in preparing French bakery items. It was his first visit to the facility in Behala, set up by French restaurateur Alain Cojean who runs the foundation Nourrir Aimer Donner (Eat Love Give), and David Earp, a British textile dealer who had founded Shuktara Home in 1999. “The consulate-general is keen to support the NGO. My predecessor launched it. There is no other authentic French bakery here. Their orders are increasing. I could see the high standards of patisserie they follow,” said Syed. The cakes, madeleines and financiers  sell for about Rs 550 a kilo. Orders are taken over phone (9874349175) and home-delivered.

Syed spoke in Hindi with the five boys — Pinku, Sanjay and Bapi are deaf-mute while Ashok and Raju suffer from cerebral palsy — who were trained. He also tasted the products. “Getting to eat madeleines in Calcutta was unexpected. It is a traditional preparation associated with sweet memories for us,” said Syed, who used to get madeleines as snacks while spending the summers in his grandmother’s house in Brittany. 

Picture: Anindya Shankar Ray


What: Highway Dhaba Food Festival
Where: First Innings, The Stadel
When: December 19-31, 12.30pm-3.30pm

On the menu: There’s nothing like dhaba fare to warm you up at this time of the year. If you can’t hit the highway, head to The Stadel for everything from kebab platters to lassi. On the menu for vegetarians are Punjabi specials like Ambarsari Paneer, Paneer Da Butter Masala and Chana Masala Chatpata. For non-vegetarians, Prawn De Golden Fry, Kukkad Kalmi Kabab, Meat Di Biryani will do the trick. From Gajjarela to Gur De Rasgulle, there is enough to bring it all to a sweet ending.
Pocket pinch: Rs 841-plus per person on weekdays and Rs 961-plus per person on weekends.