F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe, Kolkata
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is one such show which most of us have obsessed over for many many years and this obsession is the kind that doesn’t really seem to settle. I always dreamt of a cafe just like Central Perk all my life and hoped badly that someday I have a gang of such crazy but adorable friends who make life all the more livable. In the words of Phoebe, the show is indeed ‘Light-years ahead of its time.’ The show that was aired from 1994 to 2004 portrayed almost everything that a twenty-something goes through in his/her course of life. The indecisiveness, the crazy saga of hook-ups, breakups, patch-ups, dates, fights, memorable moments, hilarious sarcastic jokes are all relatable. Above all the fact that we all have a family away from our homes who gradually become our support system and help us survive the brutal realities of life are just a few things that anyone would identify with the show. The more you look into these characters’ lives the more you realize that you probably have a little bit of everyone in you.
So, when Kolkata embraced the new Friends Cafe in Deshopriyo Park, somewhere in the deep concrete abysses of Gurgaon a 20-something Travel blogger jotted it down in her bucket list. Kolkata being especially very close to my heart, this news came up as a pleasant surprise followed by a sense of pride. I mean, it’s Kolkata which has a swanky new Friends cafe and not any other metro city, isn’t it awesome?
The cafe was started by Mahima Bachhawat and her brother Aditya and mind you Mahima is just 19 years old. My! My! What all these kids achieve these days, at her age I was not even sure of what course should I take up for higher studies. May God bless such wonderful people who make dreams of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fanatics like me turn into reality.
So, where is this F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe?
Located in Deshopriyo Park, in Southern Kolkata, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. cafe is very near to the iconic Priya Cinema Hall. If you have been to Priya Cinema Hall, then locating the cafe is a cakewalk. Simply walk along the road next to the hall to the very end and Voila! Your destination is right before your eyes and it is bound to take your breath away.
The massive wall mural of the silhouettes of Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica is something you just cannot miss. My heart almost skipped a beat when I saw that!
What is so great about the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe?
Huh! How do you even ask that question? Everything about the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe is a dream come true (of course, if you have watched the show.) The ambience somehow gives the impression of the hallway between the apartments No. 19 and 20. On the right side is the iconic green door of Apartment No. 19 and on the left is the door of Apartment No. 20. However, the first door to catch your attention would be Monica’s purple door with the yellow frame around the eye-hole. I know, the purple door completely steals the thunder of Joey and Chandler’s door, the white one with a reminder board.
There’s also the dog sculpture, Pat, the one Joey bought in his new flat once he became the famous Drake Ramoray on Days of our Lives. The walls are adorned with cool trivia from the show as well as cool Friends posters on display. The counter has the legendary glowing logo of the cup and saucer of Central Perk. The orange couch which invariably belonged to the gang of six on the show is one of the major attractions and is something everyone wants to sit on. Though my personal favourite was the yellow couch from Joey and Chandler’s apartment, this orange one is the show-stopper here.
Plus they kinda have a secret Hookah Lounge across the purple door and that is where you will find Phoebe’s pink cycle mounted on top of the wall (Just so that no crazy Friends fan ends up rummaging the space trying to ride that thing!). So what if you can’t ride Phoebe’s’cycle here, you can always pose with the numerous placards kept on the shelves. These are fun too.
Enough talking, what do they really serve apart from Purple Doors?
In the words of Rachel and for the people who haven’t watched the show, ‘No show, No opinion.’ Okay?
These people have made the impossible possible. I mean, when Ross describes his leftover Thanksgiving sandwich with the moist-maker (the extra piece of bread soaked in gravy) I just couldn’t stop drooling. I wondered where would I ever find such a Sandwich and guess what, they have it here.
They also have Monica’s special Lasagna, minus her blue fingernail and Rachel’s wedding ring of course. There’s the Mac and Cheese she made for Chandler on her worst Thanksgiving too. How can Joey be left out? With his penchant for pizzas and more, they have the Smokin Joey Pizza. If you order that you may just hear it hitting on you with Joey’s legendary “How you doin’?”
Remember, Rachel’s disastrous English Trifle with all sorts of layers and beef, well they have it too minus the beef of course. How can you forget that Phoebe was a staunch vegetarian and did not even don a fur coat (except the fabulous orange mink coat that one time!) Mahima and her brother Aditya have pretty much kept that in mind so you won’t really find any meat in here but the menu is all sorts of drool-some.
The coffee is worth a try, after all, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. always drank coffee. So I tried the Cafe Latte, and I think it was pretty awesome. After being drenched in a sudden downpour on my way to this place, that coffee was exactly what I needed.
Revisiting Kolkata is always awesome, there is so much to this city that cannot be found elsewhere and visiting this cafe was a wish I had decided to fulfil as soon as I had first heard of it. Deshopriyo Park is the first place I stayed at after leaving my home in Sikkim, back in 2007, so this locality is inadvertently my favourite in the whole of Kolkata and the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe has made it even more special. Mahima made it all the more amazing for me with a very precious gift, the Smelly Cat badge.
Even if you haven’t watched the show, I would still urge you to visit this place you surely will not be disappointed and who knows you may start watching this wonderful series? If you have watched the show and been a fan, then come on buy that next ticket to Kolkata and rush in here. Have you been to the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Cafe in Kolkata or anywhere in other parts of the world? If yes, then leave me a comment about your experiences of such a cafe. I am all ears! Until then keep watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and keep exploring!