Updated this week
A 'Beach n Dine' Experience
Angela and Rishal Sawney's L'Atelier (workshop) adds a novel feel to dining. Rustic, natural, unique yet simplistic-these would be some of the adjectives that come into play. Their place is a chef's workshop, the preparations uncommon yet with local familiarity.
Away from the hustle and bustle, walk down a rugged flight of steps (shoes or sandals to be practical preferably beach wear). Let those toes curl into soft white sand. Below coconut trees and circled by thatched huts are scrubbed wooden benches with tables with black place mats, wine glasses and cutlery. Strung hammocks sway temptingly in the breeze. The kitchen is open to all to converse with the chef as per their meal requirements and an overhead deck provides a bird’s eye view of sand and sea. In harmony with the overhead sky, at dusk the Edison filament bulbs come on as the sun goes o bed.
The menu is balanced, 9 Les Entrees, 9 Les Plats and 6 Les Desserts. Near the kitchen the blackboard proclaims the chef's availability for the day maybe another 5-8 preparations based on produce availability. The barman makes an excellent mix. Try the Manjito or Grape Mint slush (sans spirit). One realizes that here the preparations depend on fresh fruits available seasonally. Start with the Marinated Fish Cerviche, citrus, olive oil and fresh coriander Rs 400. This Peruvian specialty as explained by Angela- (the fish is cooked in citric juice), will definitely appeal to our local palate especially as it is spiced to perfection and served with our crusty poie. Another 'fav' is the Warm black grapes and camembert cheese. The sweet black grapes warm to the bite is tossed in vinaigrette balsamic. Take a bite from that thick slice of cheese on top. You will be saying cheese all the while. For mains the famous Crumbed chicken chakli at Rs 500. Served in a bowl the fingers of chicken breasts are crumbed to perfection and served on a bed of rice and tossed vegetables accompanied with horse radish sauce. Fish lovers this is for you - the Grilled Filet of kingfish garnished with a chunky slice of papaya and served with ginger butter sauce.
Plus and Minus
The chef's workshop yields innovations - chicken chakli, chicken with spicy gulab jamun, Toffee banana (deconstructed banoffie styled dessert). The food is interesting. Moreover one can walk up to the kitchen and discuss what’s on offer. The deck promises an unadulterated view of the horizon, a great vantage to order coffee and desserts. It’s a 'back to Goa of yore' where the ambience matters, and the workshop gives you preparations in a new avatar from the workshop – L'Atelier.
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Updated last week
She is rocking…come the wee hours of the morning and one will find the tables crowded, voices raised in fun and laughter. There were many Aunty Maria's during the 60s, and now in the heart of Panaji is everybody's Aunty…AUNTY MARIA. She bakes, takes care of your needs, she is there any time of the day or night with 'Coffee and Bites'. She is a landmark as she is one of the only outlets which remains open even past midnight at Hotel Fidalgo. The ambience is warm and casual; a picture on the wall showing a well endowed Aunty Maria with her bright red apron carrying a birthday cake while another one shows her busy at work cooking up a treat. The display cases in the restaurant showcase her tasty wares fresh home-made breads, cakes, chocolates and cookies and varieties of teas, coffees and shakes. Open 24x7 one can meet up over coffee or partake in Aunty Maria's Breakfast. Omelettes — made With Your Choice of Three Eggs or Egg Whites — your choice of a Turbo (grilled chicken, baby spinach and fresh mozzarella) or perhaps an Ionian Omelette (spinach, feta cheese with diced onions). Go sweet for a sweet breakfast — Griddle Originals like Buttermilk Pancakes or Challah French toast or perhaps Granola Pancake served with banana slices, Try the Belgian Waffles or perhaps the Plain Waffles…don't waffle around about your choice. For elevenses try her Pizzas or Burgers — the Vegetable or the Filet of fish burger, BBQ chicken Pizza or the three pepper and American Corn Pizza. Or perchance a Hangover Salad (Grilled Romaine, Crouton, Parmesan with stir fried vegetable and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette) or a Bi Bim Bop (this name will sure give you a vocabulary hangover (Squids, Mushrooms, Squash Zucchini, Green Curry Vinaigrette, Fried Tofu, Sunny Egg, Sesame Chili Sauce) the preparation is quite a mouthful. A quicker bite? Then have a sandwich or the chicken sausage roll or the quiche with cheese, mushroom and spinach. Aunty Maria is always ready to oblige. Its 3pm and are you at loose end? Aunty Maria's oven has been working overtime. Choose a slice of Gateaux…feast your sense on black forest, you will be bombarded by chocolate…truffle, choco walnut and even Death (Death by chocolate). But don't you worry — there are sugar free pastries too to keep illness at bay. Her team of chefs has worked tirelessly and the counters are filled with Tiramisu, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, cheesecake etc…etc…etc. Phew! Aunty Maria offers a special 30% discount from 7pm till midnight. And then she goes full steam ahead with the Midnight Express, a choice of different biryanis for the late night peckish crowd. All time of the day or night, where one can drop in for a Cold Coffee, Almond Frappe or even a Milk Shake? Aunty Maria's beverage counter gets 'energized' even in the wee hours of the morning — from the Coffee Bar Dark Roast Arabica, Espresso, steaming hot cappucino's, hot chocolate. 21'ers don't you despair beers and breezers are available even after midnight till 5am…so breeze in after the witching hour with everybody's favourite aunt. You might even find her in person.