In the three and a half years since it first opened its doors, Sienna Cafe, with its cosy rustic interiors and free WiFi (the city has a real dearth of places that offer WiFi) has made a mark for itself in Kolkata. Unlike most of the bigger places that have an impersonal vibe, what set Sienna apart from the start was that it was brimming with character. Forever championing causes close to their heart, from banning plastic straws to hosting intimate gigs and poetry readings, they quickly became the hub of the city’s indie scene.
Starting out with a menu focussed on locally sourced ingredients, their dishes changed with the seasons to incorporate the freshest produce available. Over the years they kept adding to their repertoire, baking their own bread and whipping up delicious strawberry crumble cakes (so popular that not a crumb would be left by the evening; regulars call and reserve their slices).
This month, they opened a new space in the heart of the city’s commercial and tourist hub, Park Street. The space is roomy and can accommodate around 80 people, quite a change from the tiny original Sienna Cafe. They have retained their characteristic whimsical feel with a sea of upturned umbrella lights covering the ceiling, and a book tree like in their flagship cafe, adding a built-in nook to cozy up in once you select your read.
The menu has had quite a makeover. “We would like to look at it as growth,” says cafe owner Shuli Ghosh. “The large and well equipped kitchen has given us an opportunity to experiment with a wide range of ingredients, flavours and textures, which enabled us to create a more extensive menu, while retaining the Sienna style. We have a new kitchen family as well, who have brought in many new elements to our food. Their experience in other parts of the world and varied skill sets allow us to be more ambitious with our choices.”
The enhanced menu did not disappoint, and I walked away with some new house favourites. The Soft Shell Crab had a crispy fried shell that gave way to tender meaty goodness, offset beautifully by the side of fresh salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. The Roast Pork Sandwich is not to be missed. The pork is slow cooked, and the bread is a soft brioche. It has a red cabbage slaw in a spicy mayo dressing and is served alongside chunky house fries.
For a light lunch I would recommend the Kale salad with Burrata. A sprinkle of sweet pomegranate balances the slight bitterness of the kale with a hint of crunchy pine nuts. I ended my meal with pure indulgence: Chocolate Cloud cake, a dense dark chocolate flourless cake topped with espresso cream and walnut crumbles.
“We want to offer something for everyone – quick lunch options for the office going crowd, salads for moms waiting to pick up their kids from school, healthy protein packed bowls for those coming back from the gym, Sunday brunch specials – and to provide wholesome food options for people who have busy lives but do not have healthy options readily available,“ says Ghosh.
In addition, they offer a co-working space with a conference room, and soon will be proving printing and mailing facilities and hosting networking meets, opening them up to an even wider audience than before, while they continue to curate intimate events and gigs which draw in a varied crowd.
Where: Sienna Cafe Park Street, First Floor, Development House, 24 Park Street, Kolkata
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Recommended dishes: Soft Shell Crab, Kale Salad with Burrata, Cloud Cake
Price: Rs 1,200 – Rs 1,500 for two
Noise Level: Moderate
All images: Courtesy Sienna Cafe