Being a foodie and food writer, I have my own dogmas when it comes to writing on culinary themes. For example, whenever I visit the iconic restaurants or eateries in the country, I always make it a point to jot down my experiences in my diary and fasten the bill alongside it. I believe, together they make for some fond and bountiful memories about my culinary adventures. This tale is about the Best Bakery in Kolkata and one of those really fond memories…
I distinctly remember the first time I heard about Flurys. Fourteen years ago, in 2004, while watching ‘Parineeta,’ adapted from its 1914 namesake novella by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, I got to know about this famous patisserie located at the busy junction of Park Street, Kolkata. The name, Flurys, seemed to convey a sense of exclusivity to me, as if it had some distinctness attached to it.
Well, I didn’t get to experience that exclusivity until the summers of 2013, when on a hot and humid day of June I set out to explore Kolkata, in its rich flavours and authentic culinary heritage. But by then I’d already forgotten about Flurys, which was somewhere tucked away in the far corners of my mind, ready to come alive at a mere passing mention of it. Passing by the nooks and corners of the city, I discovered many good eatery joints in and around the old Calcuttan suburbs like Shakespeare Sarani, Chowringhee, Elgin Road, Camac Street, etc. The smell of those freshly baked loaf of breads, scones, cakes, and other oven fresh goods were a treat to my senses, as I passed though Britannia’s manufacturing plant located on the Hungerford Street. Certainly, the old neighbourhoods of Kolkata are a foodie’s dream delight, with much to explore and savour.
Trotting around the city, I suddenly found myself at the crossroads of Park Street, Calcutta’s most famous neighbourhood, where my eyes were held in attention by the pink-and-white calligraphy, emanating from a signboard tucked on an old mansion, announcing that I have arrived at the doorstep to Flurys, the best bakery in Kolkata. I was overwhelmed by the suddenness of finding Flurys amidst my wanderings in the city. The same scene from the movie played in my mind, wherein I felt like a character myself, out to explore the patisserie and its distinctness.
One of the four best iconic bakeries of Calcutta, Flurys was opened in 1927 by a Swiss couple, Joseph and Frieda Flury, as a tearoom and confectionary shop, later on expanding to become a trendy restaurant in the heart of the city. In those days, British families and affluent Indians congregated to have their breakfasts at Flurys, especially the Sunday breakfast. It is known for serving the best Swiss and international delicacies, including exotic cakes, creamy pastries, rice puddings, and the best hand-made Swiss chocolates.
While talking to the head waiter, I got to know that Satyajit Ray used to turn up at Flurys chucking his favourite adda – The Coffee House at College Street – for the gooey bite of a pastry or cake. He is also rumoured to have maintained a credit account at Flurys during his college years at St. Xavier’s College. One of his colleagues from the same college was LN Mittal, the steel magnate, who was a regular visitor at Flurys during his college days. Many famous film stars from the Bollywood set used to visit Flurys at least once during their trip to Kolkata. Flurys was no less a favourite with Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor, with both of them frequenting it on their trips to the hallowed city of sweetmeats.
Over time, Flurys has played the role of a perfect cupid by being the most hangout-friendly jaunt of Xavier boys and Loreto girls, where many love stories blossomed or withered, many written and many erased. Till date, Flurys remains a safe haven for love-smitten couples.
Scanning the menu, I remember ordering an Earl Grey tea along with chicken puff patties. Followed by, a cheese chicken sandwich and a few of their hotshot chocolate cakes and pastries. The cheese chicken sandwich was everything that I had expected! Creamy filling in the sandwich with loads of chicken shreds and the break was done perfectly, to my liking. I liked the lightly toasted breads, not too chewy – not to crunchy! Next, I found Red Velvet cake really delicious, though it was quite pricey. Some of the must-haves at this dainty place include English Breakfast, Chocolate Mousse, Tea & Coffee, Apple Pie, Cinnamon Roll, Chicken Patty, Swiss Sandwich, Coronation Chicken Filled Croissant, and Peach Melba.
So, whenever you’re in Kolkata do head out to Flurys for a refreshing breakfast and some of those oven fresh baked goodies, and give your day a fresh start!! The sweet aroma of those freshly baked goodies, hot from the oven, is something that would keep calling you back to Flurys, the best bakery in Kolkata.
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