When an extended weekend is what lies ahead of you, a quick trip to Goa is what you should plan. It’s okay if you’ve been there before, splashed around in the sea and done it all. Just go back one more time and spend three long lazy days spread across five restaurants in and around Calungate.
You could start the day with eggs and toast. A simple breakfast, nothing too fancy. Reserve the taste buds for later. Relax in the guest house, let the essence of Goa sink in.
After a steamy day roaming around Calungate beach, your stomach will start rumbling. It’s just strange how your appetite peps up in the coastal areas. And in heart of the market is Rock Cafe Steakhouse.
Characterised by flags on display, there are tables lined up outside beneath the large beach umbrellas. An easy meal for two in INR 500, you should know what to avoid here. The baguettes are yum and filling and the egg – mayo baguette is a must try. However give the Banana Split a miss. Quoted at INR 80, the bananas are raw with the dollops of ice cream dropped haphazardly all over. Not to mention, the absence of toasted garnishing.
After spending the evening walking down Baga beach, getting your feet wet and spotting an occasional crab with fluorescent pincers, slip into Walk Inn. A shanty looking place compared to the mammoth Britto’s just next to it, wait till you dig in. The owner is quite friendly and if asked nicely he will let you add extra chocolate in your hot chocolate drink. The chicken curry here is lightly spiced and way different for the Puneite palate. These flavours are further enhanced if you down it with feni. Strong and pungent, the feni is paired best with Goan dishes. The prices are absolutely reasonable and you can spend time listening to old songs and even see people breaking into an occasional twist.
To enjoy the nightlife a little more, stroll into Britto’s just for desserts. It’s worth the wait since this restaurant is always so crowded. If you would like to try something different this time, then try the Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake. Affordable at INR 75, you wouldn’t want to share your dessert. Skip the regulars like Chocolate Mousse, try something new.
Take a cue from the Goans and wake up to a slow and lazy morning. Stroll into Electric Cats, not far from Calungate beach. With large windows and airy appeal, it promises you the best cocktails in town. There is also a board perched on its roof that claims being recommended by ‘Lonely Planet’. Give it a shot and order a full English breakfast and then get busy for the next 45 minutes as you wait for it. A platter of baked beans, eggs (made to order), bacon, ham, grilled tomatoes and fried mushrooms. Quite a mouthful, it is just enough for you to skip lunch as you go church hopping and sight-seeing. Perfect for INR 250, you could try the chocolate pancakes too. You will find yourself thinking about it even when you’re back home!
Dinner must be nowhere but only at Britto’s but it is safer to stick to the Indian cuisine and Italian. Don’t even think of wasting INR 320 over a seafood platter. The steamed crab is insipid, the baked fish – nothing spectacular, the promised mussels were absent and the fried fish and salad filled the stomach instead. It was only the chilled prawn cocktail that lived up to its expectations, succulent and flavoursome.
On the last day in Goa, it’s better you decide for a brunch before you hurry to catch the afternoon train back. Souza Lobo’s is the place to be. Right on Calungate beach, it has a slightly crowded atmosphere even at noon. The furniture is old and the thatched roof just adds to the interiors. The pale yellow walls with the watercolour paintings are enough to inspire the writer in anyone. The windows face the sea and the saline breeze whets the appetite.
Prawn cheese macaroni. Learn it, commit it to memory because if you are here, you must try this. Lightly flavoured, the delicious tender prawns take brilliantly to the cheese. Warm and creamy, its priced within INR 200. The Fish cafreal on the other hand is just not enough for your stomach. Try the Goan sausage rice. Yum as it is, it will shock your taste buds in the beginning. A few more bites and the peculiarity gives way and you will be lost in its taste.
Three days, five restaurants. From the best to shanty looking areas, the variety will excite your taste buds.
This article was featured in a Pune-based food, travel and lifestyle website ‘The Tossed Salad’, recounting my impromptu college trip with friends back in September 2010. I have edited the article, a little, because frankly, I couldn’t help myself.