The writing's on the wall

March 31, 2016

This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series

Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

The beef steak, stuffed with ham and cheese, with all the trimmings

 

 

At age eighteen, one finds new found freedom in many ways; the right to vote, get one’s own passport and of course, a driving license. Using said liberty, I set out to discover more of my home state and in the process, discovered one of my favourite places to just ‘be’, for culinary reasons and otherwise; Hospedaria Venite on Rua 31 de Janeiro in São Tomé in Panjim.

 

While my discovering the eatery was through the age old tourist’s handbook, Lonely Planet, I have discovered over the past 12 years that this place isn’t your average tourist attraction. In here, one does not find the average domestic tourist clad in boxer shorts and a ‘banyaan’. It is a meeting place for many a local that knows of the secret delights the venue houses and the tourist that chooses to tread off the beaten path. For some, including yours truly, it is a place that ensures in the words of Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, ‘mischief managed’ (thank you, JK Rowling).

 

 

Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

A look at Venite's old school bar and graffitied walls in the background; old, warm and welcoming

 

 

Venite has always served as an example of a very satisfactory gastronomic end product. From their pork chops prepped in one’s Goan masala of choice, to their prawn balchão that is just perfectly tempered atop a mound of steamed basmati rice, the food that is dished out by proprietor Luis de Souza and his merry band of helping hands always hits the spot. Luis is the man who makes the restaurant however, and if one is really fortunate, during the sweltering heat of the mango season, one can share a seat with him in the restaurants quaint window seats and partake of a Mango Melba. It is difficult to tell what is more tantalising; the little chunks of mango surrounding a vanilla ice-cream island, perfect for beating the heat, or Luis’ banter about all affairs Goan, ranging from politics to local good-to-know gossip.

 

 

Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

The unique, homemade lamp/fan that adorns the ceiling at Venite

 

 

However, while the food is excellent, great dining experiences are made of so much more than merely good food. Excellent entertainment is the very hallmark of a good restaurant. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a musical performer or a stage art tucked away in a corner, but merely something that captures the attention and then retains it in a hypnotic trance. Does Venite deliver just that? Most assuredly, yes. They boast the exact same act that has enthralled it’s diners for years: their walls. Often we hear the phrase ‘if only these walls could talk’. However, this quaint little restaurant, the walls are the diners’ canvas, and as such, they do speak and have many tales to share.

 

 

Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

On a hot day, the freshly brewed iced tea, sipped slowly in one of the window seats at Venite, is pure bliss

 

 

For most who dare to leave behind their sentiments, these walls serve as a little piece of history, a recording of a certain moment in time, that immortalises the given state of a writer and the time he yielded his weapon of choice, be it marker, paintbrush, pen or my personally preferred choice, colour pencil. It is a place where many a broken heart has wept, where many an inebriated drawl has converted itself into a scribble, where many an aspiring author has phrased the vilest of limericks, where brushes and paint turn into murals and where a few star-crossed lovers may leave a note to their significant other to eventually meet there on a given date, once done bridging the distance that separates them.

 

All this and more, is precisely why dining here is not about the food. There are memories and flashbacks that paper over every crack in the paint that has been laboriously hand-crafted by diners looking to set that moment in stone (or paint). Whilst newer, more clinically professional and perhaps (dare I say it) better restaurants emerge that are state-of-the-art in every aspect, the Luis’ and Venites of the world will remain immortalised in my memory. Once again, not for merely standing the test of time, not for being just another landmark restaurant, but primarily, for being a place of true Goan nature, where one does not go purely for a repast of the stomach, but rather, of the soul.

 

 

Fernando's Findings

#1
Hospedaria Venite is one of Panjim's well kept secrets, and doesn't draw the run of the mill crowd. If off-beat is your thing, this is an absolute 'must-stop'.

#2
The proprietor, Luis is an institution in his own right. Polite and charming, he is beyond happy to sit and chat with anyone who crosses the threshold.

#3
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations) would be an approximate of ₹2,500 (at the time of publishing this review).

 

 

How to get there

The address

Rua 31 de Janeiro, Panjim, Goa 403001

The directions

 

 

 

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.

 

Please reload

#1 

 

The views here are completely my own, and may not reflect those of any other members of the human population, which is why it is 'my blog'.

 

 

 

#2

 

I will always do my best to not be offensive, but sometimes, just sometimes, there are things that annoy me. So if I'm writing about one of them (and if anyone involved is reading this), I apologise for any hurt sentiments in advance.

 

 

 

#3

 

Try not to be overly sensitive and take offense to things like beef, bikinis, sex scenes in movies, Donald Trump's inability to be an effective president and so on. The world is happier with unicorns in it.

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© 2015 by Fernando Monte da Silva