Like many Bangaloreans, I’ve recently returned rejuvenated from a quick post New Year break in our very own land of sun and sand — Goa. Besides relaxation, most people in Goa are happy to drift from one indulgent meal to the next, in quaint little seasonal restaurants run by expats, Goan shacks and eateries serving fresh seafood. Here are some places worthy of a visit…
Sunday brunch at Villa Blanche bistro, Assagao: In the shady bylanes of the town Assagao, a tiny bistro run by German lady Elizabeth Yogini offers long, leisurely Sunday brunches. From homemade muesli, salads, waffles, quiches, bakes, yummy chocolate mud pies and raspberry tiramisus. Try the organic fresh pressed juices or Hugo — a wine spritzer. At mosaic-topped tables under leafy trees, expats relax with families, all day. Details: 09822155099
Sunday evening at Go With The Flow: Live South American jazz and rock outdoors makes for a fun evening with gourmet style food by Brazilian chef Guto Souza. Try a stunning fresh goat’s cheese terrine and perfectly done fillets of beef and pork belly. Around you, the upscale crowd relaxes with Caipirinhas. Details: 07507771556
Japanese at Sakana, Chapora: Home-style Japanese with memorable tuna teriyaki, beef yakiniku and sushi, this is a must-do Japanese fix for us. Very popular with discerning diners. Details: 09890135502
La Plage, Ashwem: Our favourite place for its beetroot and mango carpaccio, chocolate fondant and steaks. Go early to this French-run beachside restaurant just to walk on the sand and watch the sunset. Then sit with your toes curled into the powder-soft sand and dine. Goan dining at its best, this is well worth the trek. Details: 09822121712
Thalassa, Vagator: Catch the sunset from the cliffs of Little Vagator, sip on wine and tuck into the inimitable Mariketty’s moussaka, kleftiko and souvlakis. If you’re lucky, there will be an impromptu display of sirtaki, the slow, sensuous traditional Greek dance. Details: 09850033537
Amigos, Nerul: Sabita Aunty makes delicious homely butter garlic crab and snapper recheado in a tiny no-frills shed overlooking the river. Call ahead to book your crab. Details: 09822104920.
There are also downsides. There’s been talk of ‘selling out’ to cheaper tourist demands (a famous South Goa shack serving buffets of fried rice and palak paneer!) but by and large, the cosmopolitan residents of Goa bravely hang on to their individuality. Goan designer Wendell Rodricks recently took to social media to express outrage at the cabarets that were held at some Baga’s beach shacks over the New Year. It would ruin Goa and create a reputation for sex tourism, he said, appealing to the Goa chief minister to step in. Designer Manoviraj Khosla, a Goa regular, agrees that you get your share of odd-bods. “But one or two johnnies holding cabarets can’t tarnish Goa’s image – this is the same place with legendary music festivals like Sunburn and Supersonic, and still has the most wonderful beaches, restaurants and parties. In Goa, you can spend the day at beach shacks like Calamari, Zeebop or Rock Fish, go sailing, eat at La Plage and party at Marbela. Agreed, lots of people come to Goa for the wrong reasons, but in the long run, these are inconsequential to the larger picture.”
I’m saying a prayer for Goa for 2015. May it always prosper for the right reasons.