This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture Courtesy: Grand Hyatt Goa
Chef Mark Anthony Long-chilling while grilling
Okay, I’m going to make a confession; I love chefs. I mean, they love food (brownie point number 1), they are usually well disposed (brownie point number 2), they are always clean (brownie point number 3) and they love food (brownie point number 4). I know that I’m repeating that last one, but hey, a love for food definitely deserves double the amount of brownie points. However, there is the odd instance when a chef that makes his mark on the industry (just like any other celebrity in any other field) begins to buy into his own hype. Now that’s never a good thing, and can be tad off-putting. But as much as I love chefs, I also love to talk, or for that matter, write. This is a tale of how a love for one married the love for the other.
I had heard much talk of the new Executive Chef at Grand Hyatt Goa; a certain Mark Anthony Long. I mean, with a name like that, he certainly sounded suspicious (and he wielded a meat cleaver to boot). However, within five seconds of meeting him, all my fears were allayed, and for me, he was right at the top of the interesting chefs to meet list.
First off, here is a man who has over the course of his illustrious career, catered for the likes of the former US Vice President Al Gore, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher and golf legend, Tiger Woods. Yet, he is a happy camper who is thrilled to sit and chat at your table, as though you were both simultaneously raised together in the British countryside. Having worked across pretty much all of South-East Asia, the good chef has a plethora of oriental experience. However, where his expertise truly comes into play is the area of Modern-Australian Cuisine; or as I like to think of it, a live demonstration of an episode of Masterchef Australia.
I personally quite like the direction that Grand Hyatt Goa has taken with the new chef. The branding for the restaurant that he represents, ‘The Verandah’, reflects his image more than that of the property. It’s a module that has worked wonders in the past. Just look at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Opal at the St Regis in Doha as proof of that statement. This takes things a step further, because the chef being advertised is actually present on the premises.
Now to the important part: the food. I won’t go into too much depth here, but just drop hints of what is on offer. First up, is my personal favourite; Crispy Potato Shrimps, with a Pickled Green Papaya Salad and Nam Jim Dressing. You could have an array of other things to pick from.
What I went with from the list included the likes of a Mushroom Cappuccino which had a touch of Mushroom Dust, Truffle Oil and a came along with a tiny croissant designed for Snow White’s seven dwarves. As the next course of Peanut Crusted Basa, with Mustard Creamed Leeks, and Tomato - Chilli Compote made its way to the table, my ever-expanding waistline led me to realise how much the restaurants new policy aids often-single-diners like myself.
The new concept that Grand Hyatt Goa has introduced, is that of having single serving as well as sharing plates. This means that you could pick the elements of your own tasting menu, should you wish to sample a cross section of offerings.
However, Grand Hyatt Goa’s biggest selling point, its location, is also its Achilles heel. For most, it’s considered ‘out of the way’, even though it’s on the fringes of the capital city. There is then the conundrum that presents itself, of how one could possibly dine at a five starred-property, fully aware of the fact that they would charge you an arm and a leg. Well, to put a simple myth to rest, these upper-end properties, anywhere else in the world, are considered to be a step down from standalone restaurants, especially cost-wise. Granted, it may not quite be the same case as India; however, it’s a little bit more in terms of monetary value, for an experience and a level of service and dedication that you just cannot beat. Dispel these notions, and you’re in for a treat. Because I can guarantee that even if by some miracle you’re not sold on the food (which is to die for), you’ll be sold on Mark Anthony Long, and that’s close enough.
Chef Mark Anthony Long is worth the trip alone. His food and personality are quite the experience.
The perception of Grand Hyatt Goa being a five star property and the fact that it is remote will definitely come into play, and not for the better. This is a shame because it is worth visiting.
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations) would be an approximate of ₹4,000 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Opposite Aldeia de Goa, Off Goa University Road, North Goa, Bambolim, Goa 403206
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.