Featured Restaurants in Goa

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While Delhi Darbar at Panjim remains the main focus of Mughlai cuisine, the Nayyar brothers have expanded towards Miramar to ensure that even though the head office is packed to capacity every night, the same fare is available at a ‘unique styled Darbar hall’ where lofty ceilings and elegant rusts make you feel that the emperor might walk in any moment to sit on his throne.

Décor/Ambience

One does not need more than a quick glance to realize that the focus is on elegance. The pastel décor, the full length curtains, paper chandeliers suspended from a lofty ceiling its mellow lighting encompasses, the hanging chains moving gently with the air conditioning draft – a combination that give it a perfect ambience of regal comfort. The banques (sofas) are comfortable, the striped brown cross cloth across the beige table cloths reminiscent of the brocaded sashes of the Mogul emperors of yore. The single rose placed on the table makes one reflect….a remembrance of old portraits where the emperor would gently wave a rose near his nostrils….yes the place envelops and sets you in the mood. Open the menu and the graphics of the past…a small write up of the marble throne where the emperor would meet his ambassadors, it was time to indulge in the cuisine where exotic spices played an important role….Mughlai.

Food

Three fourths of the menu promotes favorites of the old Delhi Durbar…Murg malai tikka, mutton seekh kebab. But we were lucky. It was a weekday and the kitchen was not hard-pressed to churn out food. The chef delighted with a new specialty….chicken jeera kebab. The boneless breasts of chicken were marinated to perfection, soft and succulent and mixed with the Delhi Darbar preparation of cuchumber and pickled onions….a delight to the taste buds. Another great preparation is the Fish Amritsari.

Don’t imagine fried fingers of fish. On the platter are four big chunks of fish ….delicately marinated and tandoor’ied’. Don’t know if that word exists….but the flaky feel of the fish leaves one worried’ as to whether the meal should end on this note. However, emboldened we requested the chef to showcase more of his specialties. Ashwini Nayyar did confess that he had five sections in his kitchen taking it beyond just ‘Mughlai’ preparations. Chicken skewers BBQ style. One might be forgiven if we think of a satay….but the chicken is grilled and served on a skewer with a grilled cherry tomato with the chef’s own home preparation of BBQ sauce. Accompanied by Tzatsiki sauce (maid of strained yoghurt) and garnished with fried rice noodles, the combo is unique and tasty. We learned later that he had trained under the Executive chef of Leda and Malts and wines fame.

What does one order for the mains? Mutton Roganjosh, Onion kulcha- crisp to the bite, you can also order it as a snack. But if the family is with you, the kids would love the al dente Penne Alfredo.the pasta was cooked to perfection, the sauce creamy, and the vegetables crunchy. One might miss the pepper mill and the extra grated cheese on the side, but this sure is a great order to suit the local taste buds. There are sections like Goan (the rawa fried prawns make an excellent snack) and Chinese too.

Plus and Minus

Attached to a hotel, the Veranda do Mar, the restaurant is conceptualized as a multi cuisine, but they sure have some winners like the Mughlai and the European preparations. Parking is no issue here, the place is designed as a family styled restaurant and we are given to understand that the weekends are busy. While specialties are ‘on order’ the food takes about 20-25 minutes after ordering…..and while alcohol will shortly reach the bar, the ‘soft’ beverages are served in attractive gold rimmed glasses. With just a few months of being in operation, pick up take aways for TV dinners and home parties are popular for the people living in that area. The desserts are age old favorites- matka kulfi, gulab jamun…but the few flavors of Baskin Robbins especially the pineapple and papaya are a delight. This restaurant with the added facets of a good ambience is a mirrored extension of the Panjim restaurant, with a few specialties thrown in. Did not the durbars in days of yore work in that way where the ‘throne’ and special courtiers added value to the occasion? Check out for a royal treat.

Updated this week

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  • Service
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  • Decor
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An ‘Inspired global’ experience

It’s supposed to bring out for Avinash ‘the best in you’, yes that is the Spanish translation of Cavatina- Cuchina-grill-bar. Avinash Martins the young chef at the helm and wife Tiz have opened out this unique fine dine place that will for foodies- definitely bring out the ‘best in you’.

Décor/Ambience

In the rural by lanes of Benaulim, en route to Taj exotica, is a place called Mesmeric Sunsets. Yes it begins like this. The drive (during monsoons) past green fields lush with the paddy crop, the simplicity of the surroundings and then you are there. Enter the restaurant- shades of beige and black with vibrant picturesque art work on the walls…the chef’s creativity at work and you are enveloped with a feeling of ‘great expectation’. Nope no Ms Havisham around the place, with these young proprietors one can but ‘picture’ a new style emerging. But let’s hark back to the interiors. Elegant crockery and cutlery on placemats, its contemporary fine dining with a see through glassed kitchen …and you are ready for the experience.

Food

Avinash’s global trotting has garnished a ‘sack full’ of creative preparations. Now one might wonder why the words ‘garnished’ – minimalistic and sack full – fulfilling are used to describe his presentations. The minimalistic appeal is in his creative dressings and presentations, the fulfilling experience is that you have felt it all- mind, body and soul. Moreover his unique ‘mixes’ of ingredients in his creations have perhaps created dishes not seen along this side of Goa. Let’s start at the very beginning…the starters. Take the Ahi (Hawaaian) tuna Tataki (Japanese). Sashimi (thin slices) of grade tuna spiced with wasabi, crusted with pepper and spice served with an avocado salad. Sashimi translates into ‘pierced body’…the flavors of the spice and sweetness pierces through the running saliva and bodily transports you to another realm. Another ‘hot’ favorite is the a la Mexicana prawns. The tempura crumb fried prawns are stuffed with avocado and cheese. Served with prawn wafers…every bite of the prawn dipped in the salsa, and pacified and satisfied with a crisp potato wedge. Did they invent the dance salsa by this movement? Foot…maybe food tapping ‘ly’ great. Take time out to sample the Pork Gyoza. There used to be an old ‘Goan’ styled recipe like this. Avinash has the minced pork dumpling with sambal olek (spicy), crisp fried in a wrapping and served with a bacon cream reduction. Forget about reducing those calories. The crisp, spiced bite in that rich dressing…..the trainer in your gym will give you a ‘dressing down’, but it’s worth the experience. ‘Bhajjia’ styled- just using the local jargon but a far cry from this, the Caribbean shrimp and calamari fritters served with a roasted tomato and chili sauce, the English herbs…flavor of rosemary, adds to the mystery. Let’s go east to Vietnam…an inspired Vietnamese honey chili beef skewer, the sweet and spicy aftermath will keep you skewered in place, it’s time to move on to the mains.

Plus and Minus

That we have a creative, up market entrepreneur here, is a definite boon. He has sourced out his crockery to compliment his preparations. Avinash says, ‘my plates are my canvas to present.’ Half moon shapes, rectangular, oval….. and even the hanging appeal. The Cavatina’s surf and turf skewer…it’s an inspired derivative of the original popular surf and turf steak. The fish and meats (surf and turf) comes hanging on a skewer over a plate of seafood pilaf. To one side a seafood mash is served as an accompaniment, on the other a shot glass of salad. But what is unique is the balance of the tenderloin, chicken breast and tiger prawn suspended above. Like a diving board? Perhaps! Avinash’s preparations do bring out a creative spurt in the diner. The Steak on stone….don’t forget to sprinkle rock salt on the heated stone…steak lovers this will be your ‘waterloo’. With the brandy and pepper cream sauce…no battle can be won, especially with the generous helping of French fries accompanying the dish. But your own inner battle of ‘what’ do I order? That is a sure test for the diner. But hold on….off the menu but available on order…it is the stuffed chicken breasts with olives and ricotta. Heaven on earth…or perhaps you will see mesmeric sunsets even after the sun has set……this preparation is one to ‘die’ for. On the desserts – the Italian seduction is a creative composition of tiramisu with a caramel walnut torte and vanilla ice cream. Come season there is a promise of more to follow. With just a little over a year in operation, this young chef has worked his magic with the ingredients, sure to bring out ‘the best in you’.

Must try

Ahi tuna tataki, a la Mexicana prawns, Vietnamese honey chili beef skewers, Cavatina surf and turf skewers.

Critic reviews are anonymous and all bills are paid by TimesCity.

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