My first tryst with “pub” dates back to one of the many book fairs in Maidan Calcutta .Now the venue of the book fair has shifted to a concrete park opposite to Science City. Kolkata was then known as Calcutta and Book Fairs happened in Maidan, the sprawling greenscape of city of joy where people go for picnics, walk, horse rides and of course romance. During one such Book fairs in Maidan, a group of friends were disgusted with the thought that I had not visited Oly. According to one of them, “If you are eighteen and you have not visited Oly you have committed a blasphemy”. Well I was eighteen; and more than that and had not visited Oly. So, they decided on a special day to take me to Oly.
There I was waiting in Parkstreet “Fulurys” bus- stop ( most of the bus conductors call out Fulury’s Parkstreet once it hits the main junction of Parkstreet with Asiatic Society on one side and a Big Bazaar on the other. Alternatively you can take a cab to reach Parkstreet but considering this is the breathing, eating and drinking place of the city the city police have decided to do a little bit of traffic policing by making the street one- way at various times. Please check with Kolkata Police traffic before you venture out with your vehicle or you can brave a walk in the winters down Park street.
Once you cross the Park hotel you have to walk down a little further and you will find the famous Oly Pub. A man sits at a desk and smiles at the regular customers guarding the groundfloor which is not meant for “Ladies”. You have to walk upstairs and hit the floor which at first sight will look like a class room with tables and benches. Once you turn behind you will see bottles of various shapes and sizes guarding the person who manages it and the waiters dressed in ceremonial white with red head gears greeting you and throwing the menu card at your face. People love it that way I suppose. Well so five of sat like school boys and girls waiting for our teacher to come and guide us through the food and menu. Without looking at the menu the waiter all in his mid-40s placed a small steel plate of Kolkata chanachur( savouries found in Kolkata) and rattled all that is available. From my friend’s cacophony I could hear two things Beef steak and Chicken Ala Kiev. Assuming that I was God fearing and abstained from beef a plate of Chicken Ala Kiev was placed in front of my eyes with a tumbler of 30 ml Vodka and a small tumbler almost equivalent to what we get in tea shops in Kolkata full of lime cordial. My friends I gathered were regulars as they exchanged pleasantries with the waiter. Those were the days when smoking was not banned.
As I attacked the Chicken Ala Kiev with my knife the butter came oozing out and flowed over the beautifully done mashed potatoes with the exact amount of green peas and boiled carrots and created an aroma to die for. The scoop of butter inside the chicken breast neatly wrapped on a bone and deep fried was not only heavenly but visually refreshing after a long tiring day. The fact that you have to scream out to each other if you want to hear even your friend’s heart break makes Oly an adorable place. Another dish that Oly regulars die out for is their Beef steak. They always get it right. And it remains a miracle. The mystery and charm of Oly is that you are left to enjoy your drink and food as it is. And you will never have a bad day. Oly does not care about decor but their food touches your heart with the same affection that their ambience will create once you can appreciate the place. They don’t play music. People through their conversations, debates create new notations and you hear music. And if you become friends over Oly you are bound to stay friends. Oly reproduces a magic of food and drink full of raw emotions, love and pain. Next time when you are in Kolkata, stop by Oly, for that utterly butterly Oly experience with no frills attached.