Combining the essence of a retro café and bar, Burnt Garlic is a fun place where food is unique, music is live and design that recalls quintessential flavours of a Bengali home. Scenographer Swarup Dutta creates a space that is vibrant, brimming with ethn
Burnt Garlic, the retro café bar, recently opened its door for gourmands and food enthusiasts of Kolkata. Spanning over 2200 Sq. Ft. area, the décor, the concept and the artistic ambiance of the place is a mix and match with a twist of quintessential “bangali gerostho bari” (Bengali Household Pattern). Esha Dutta, the owner had dreams about opening up a place that would be cosy, not restricted to the formal lunch or dinner set-up and no age bound margins. She then saw her dream come true as Burnt Garlic which happened at the ground floor of Priya Cinema building (a popular standalone theatre in South Kolkata). The whole scene at Burnt Garlic from curtains featuring rolling pins to haberdashery, from walls dotted with loins to barkosh (The circular wooden platters used in Bengali homes), every corner is pictorial and emanates pure sense of aesthetics. Scenographer Swarup Dutta is the man behind the interior artistry. He carefully managed the balance between the contrasts to the look and feel of Priya Cinema and blended in the character of the theatre when he ideated the décor concept for Burnt Garlic. From Bengal’s Kantha work to Gujrati mirror stitching, from Kashmiri aari to Lepcha textiles – the upholstery reflects embroidered fabric across the country and looks stunning.
Esha Dutta, Director, Burnt Garlic shares with VMRD, “With this space our aim is to diversify into the hospitality and f&b industry with various lounge/resto bars offering diversity in terms of ambience and cuisine. The space was available to us and is ideally located at the premises of a popular cinema. So, a cafe/dining option like this is getting hugely appreciated by the cine goers. The eclectic interiors as expected has become a conversation piece and is generating a lot of curiosity mainly due to its unique interior design.”
This place has seating arrangements for 50 people. On the platter it is a multicuisine fare including Indian, tandoor and continental dishes.
Swarup Dutta, Designer and Scenographer of Burnt of Garlic shares, “When I got the space it was flat and linear, so we decided to create dimensions by splitting them into levels. I was told to create an all-day bar and kitchen, which is bright and cheerful. I was also told to use a lot of colour if possible. Interestingly I discovered that perhaps it’s different the way men design spaces as compared to women. I feel that women when they design spaces bring a kind of softness. Also, the way they use colour is perhaps different. I feel when a man designs spaces, the approach perhaps is more graphic and less organic. I thought of addressing the concept of domesticity through the project. Also, my love for Indian handicrafts and textiles always comes out in choosing my materials.”
The special inspiration for Burnt Garlic came from old restaurants of Kolkata like Peter Cat, Barbeque and Magnolia, who have a distinct seventies feel to it. They are patch lit
with low pendent lights, high ceilings and split levels. Here it has three split levels - the ground level splits into a mezzanine and a step down basement.
Swarup adds, “For the exterior I have used full length louvered windows to emulate the old Calcutta feel. We used a distressed stain finish, which looks a bit like ‘gala-polish’ or English lacquer polish and the old theater style naked lamp signage has been used. For the interior in the ground floor we have used a continuous sofa with high raise back on one side and casual cafe style chairs on the other. The tables are colourful distressed finished wood on cast iron base. The cafe chairs have distressed wood for backrest and colourful Kantha quilt upholstery to bring in an element of fun and domesticity. Rolling pins are a symbol of domesticity and I wanted to glorify this humble domestic tool and the screen has an early 70’s feel to it. The rolling pins are suspended from the ceiling using steel cables and each rolling pin is hand stained and finished.”
Swarup adds further, “We have used furniture with a bit more organic lines in this zone. The mezzanine is meant for dining bigger groups, who can have their own private zone. This zone is lit by a light installation, which says ‘’Heart with Pepper, Soul with Garlic”, which is a Russian proverb. The light installation uses lighting systems from the past and the present to tell a vintage modern story. I have used neon, naked tungsten bulbs and LED signage lights together to create the collage.” Step Down zone houses the bar, a music deck and some cozy seating. This zone has low ceiling, perfect for a more intimate experience. The seating includes bar stools around a louvered old style bar counter. This zone also has colour blocked cafe chairs. A mix of embroidery frames and digital photo montage adorns this space. The canvases have been framed using photo frames made from big wooden platters, which are traditionally used for the sweet making process. “The digital photo montage was a collaboration between myself and Sumanta Chakravorty, who is a graphic artist. We have worked on the theme of domesticity and made it tad glamorous. We have also used embroidery frames mounted with fabrics for the extended décor,” mentions Swarup. On a concluding note Esha shares, “We are definitely looking to make a mark in the hospitality industry and would look to open several such cafe bars in the city and outside.”