In India there are two types of vegetarian food. One, which does not use any animal protein, and the second, which is stricter, and does not even allow onions or garlic. If you follow the second system, finding a good vegetarian restaurant is always a tough job. But, if you are in a city which have an ISKCON temple, you can blindly visit their restaurants for some delicious, pure veg dishes. In Calcutta, the temple and its restaurant, Govinda’s, is situated in Albert Road, near Minto Park.
From AJC Bose Road you will have to enter Camac Street. Moving towards Theatre Road / Shakespeare Sarani, take the second lane to your right. The temple will be on your left after a minute or two. Govinda’s is on the ground floor of the building.
Right after entering, the first room hosts their bakery and sweets section. Take the door to your right to enter the restaurant section. There are three dining halls. The ambiance is basic with paintings of Lord Shree Krishna adorning the walls. Seating is basic but comfortable.
On our latest visit, we started our dinner with the Tandoori Aloo. Quartered potatoes scooped in the middle and stuffed with a spicy paneer mash with a layer of tikka masala on the outside. It was a good looking as well as lip smacking dish. The quality of paneer was excellent. Soft and tasty, it dominated the flavours in spite of the spices. A great dish to start your dinner with.
Next we ordered a plate of Hariyali Kofta, and what a dish it turned out to be! Two super soft pieces of Koftas in a rich and creamy spinach gravy. Looked good and tasted great. The koftas were made with soft and crumbling paneer mixed with nuts. Here too the taste of the paneer was excellent.
We wiped off the spinach gravy with Gobi Kulcha, Missi Roti and Alu Paratha. The Missi Roti was thick and flavourful. The Gobi Kulcha and the Alu Paratha had tasty fillings of dry gobi bhaji and alu bhaji respectively.
Apart from the Indian dishes, they have also introduced a new Italian menu. It included focaccias, calzones and pizzas. Unfortunately the first two were not available, so we ordered a Giardino Pizza. The topping consisted of roasted pumpkins, sundried tomatoes, feta, mozzarella and fresh rockets. The pizzas are made on the new wood fired oven they have installed just outside the restaurant entrance. It was a perfect thin crust pizza and tasted good. However the price was really steep considering the ingredients and quantity.
We washed off our dinner with Soda Sikanjee and Pineapple Sunrise. While the former was refreshing, the later was superb. Made with Pineapple syrup, soda, vanilla ice cream and pineapple crush, it was so good that we ordered a second round. A must try drink here according to us.
It was a great and satisfying dinner. The service was friendly, attentive and fast. If you want to have pure veg food, this is definitely a great place to visit.
While coming out we packed some food from their bakery and sweets section. The service here is also good, but not as great as what you get in the restaurant. They lacked the attentiveness. The best part here was their packing. All the items were in perfect shape, including the garnishing when we opened the boxes after reaching home. A big plus for that.
The chocolate items here are great. Both the Choco Mousse and the Chocolate Self were excellent. Chocolaty but not too sweet. The laddus were good too. The dry fruit cake however was very basic. Not bad, but not even something you would remember.
The only thing which hugely disappointed us here was the Paneer Pakcashia (according to the bill). To us it looked like a Paneer Stuffed Focaccia. The bread did not taste good, and, surprisingly, not even the paneer. We ordered it keeping in mind the excellent paneer items we had in the restaurant. But the stuffing here was made with a completely different quality. It was stiff, rubbery and tasteless. We struggled to finish this item.
In all a great place for veggies which, we think, the non vegetarians like us should also visit once in a while atleast. After all it is the taste that matters, and not the ingredients. And Govinda’s was successful in delivering a Higher Taste.