Kolkata’s iconic Peter Cat is on a list of the 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World. Here’s what to order

The familiar and comforting interiors at Peter Cat

The familiar and comforting interiors at Peter Cat

Over the weekend, Siddharth Kothari woke up to a message that made him smile. Iconic Peter Cat, one of the restaurants owned by his family, made it to a list of the 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World.

The establishment, which opened its doors in Calcutta in 1975, ranks at number 17 on the list curated by Taste Atlas, an experiential travel and food guide based out of Zagreb, Croatia. There are just seven Indian restaurants on the list, the others being Calicut’s Paragon at number 11, Lucknow’s Tunday Kababi at 12, Murthal’s Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba comes in at number 23 followed by Mavali Tiffin Rooms, Bengaluru, at 39, Karim’s (Delhi) at 87 and Ram Ashraya at the 112th spot.

A plate of chelo kebab

A plate of chelo kebab

Each of the restaurants mentioned also has the name of a dish that is a ‘must-try’ there. From Peter Cat’s menu, not surprisingly their chelo kebab is the chosen one. 

Soon after launching, Nitin Kothari, the founder of Peter Cat noticed that the kebabs at his restaurant were a customer favourite. The chelo kebabs especially had a cult following, which continues even today, 48 years on.

“Hundred-plus plates of chelo kebab are ordered everyday,” says Siddharth Kothari, Nitin’s son. “There are three tandoors that are on pretty much all day,” adds Siddharth, who started Peter Hu? an Asian fine dining in 2021.

It is a dish that Nitin discovered during one of his travels to Iran. At Peter Cat they make it with mutton or chicken, and it is served with an egg (sunny side up), and rice topped with a generous dollop of butter. There is a paneer kebab and vegetable sheekh for the non-meat eaters.

“It is the same heritage menu from 1975, with the same number of dishes,” says Siddharth. Post pandemic there has been a significant increase in business and more staff has been hired. Waiters hurry past with noisy, smoky but fragrant sizzlers; their Indian dishes are popular too.

Despite new restaurants and bars dotting the city, and novel food trends perforating the market, not much has changed at Peter Cat. The grand dame of Park Street still holds her own. Her facade is the same, and the interiors have the familiar low hanging lampshades, printed wall to wall carpets and red seats that generations of families have made themselves comfortable on.

The 195-seater restaurant still has queues outside — on weekends and sometimes on weekdays too. If you manage to snag a table without any waiting, then today is your lucky day.

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