1658: a trib­ute to the by­gone Euro­pean era


The space uses in­no­va­tive light fix­tures made from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als apart from the el­e­gant chan­de­liers. Rawla adds, “Rusty char­coal grills which are seen on spi­ral stair­cases and old bal­conies in Ben­gali houses have been crafted into lamps with tung­sten bulbs. The dress-cir­cle seats fac­ing the restau­rant are lit-up with de-sil­vered jar lamps. We have also used cy­cle wheels by re­mov­ing the spokes and in­stalled them in one of the cor­ners.” She adds, “The space comes with a great ceil­ing height of 40 feet by 30 feet and huge ex­panse. I have de­mar­cated it with char­coal grey in terms of colour and used the de-sil­vered glass which makes the whole space even more stun­ning.” Bring­ing in the chef’s per­spec­tive on the in­te­ri­ors, Shaun Ken­wor­thy says, “The decor is all about the ‘by­gone era’ but at the same time it is ‘mod­ern cel­e­bra­tion’. The gas­tro­nomic map of Kolkata is fast chang­ing and as I com­plete twenty-nine years in this in­dus­try to­day, I see a new crowd in ev­ery new din­ing space which is open­ing in the city. Here we are serv­ing the mod­ern Euro­pean menu.” On a con­clud­ing note Rawla shares, “As a de­signer I would love to open more such spa­ces and with the chang­ing con­cepts of the F&B in­dus­try it is re­ally more chal­leng­ing to build such ex­pe­ri­en­tial projects.”

Named after the gor­geous time of dusk which is fa­mously known as “god­huli lagno” in Ben­gali, is 1658 Bar+Kitchen, a newly launched 60-seater fine din­ing restau­rant at Chowringhee, Kolkata. Spread over 1,500 sq ft area, this artis­tic space, re­ally comes into its el­e­ments after dark as de­scribed by the in­te­rior ar­chi­tect, aes­thete and Co-owner Sheena Rawla who en­tirely con­cep­tu­alised, de­signed and ex­e­cuted the project within two months. The or­nate baroque like in­te­ri­ors are lit up with the golden glow of tung­sten bulbs, while a flick­er­ing pro­jec­tor shows Charlie Chap­lin danc­ing on the grey walls. Rem­i­nis­cent of Kolkata's vin­tage cul­ture, the space re­calls ar­chi­tec­ture which is unique and still stands the test of time. While speak­ing to VM&RD on the theme of the eatery, Rawla men­tions, “1658 Bar + Kitchen re­flect the baroque past and all its drama, ten­sion, ex­u­ber­ance and grandeur. It was ‘Euro­pean’ that was on top of my mind for the decor and as we part­nered with fa­mous Bri­tish chef Shaun Ken­wor­thy for the project. I knew that a great Euro­pean cui­sine needed a grand vin­tage set­ting.” The in­te­ri­ors use grey and char­coal tones to evoke the charm of a by­gone era. Rawla in­forms, “The mono­chrome colours match the con­crete back­ground and the yel­low light­ing ex­ud­ing warmth in this el­e­gant set­ting not only takes you back to a cul­ture that was glam­orous, glit­ter­ing and grounded in his­tory, but em­braces ev­ery­thing chic and con­tem­po­rary. Also all the shades are kept neu­tral be­cause Shaun’s food has a great colour pal­ette.” 1658 is a metic­u­lously de­signed space to bring alive a past that was gra­cious. Po­si­tioned in the heart of the city and the her­itage zone of Kolkata, the decor com­pletely com­pli­ments the Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture of the build­ing that has got an amal­ga­ma­tion of neo-gothic, baroque and neo­clas­si­cal style. Rawla fur­ther men­tions, “The whole set­ting is very still, stark and quite, adding warmth that any­one would love while en­joy­ing a hearty meal. All the fur­ni­ture and the props are in­tri­cately picked up and cus­tomised to set the decor. For the seat­ing ar­range­ments, an­tique beds have been used to give a very cosy feel.”

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