This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The ‘Persian Lamb Koobideh’, made of spiced lamb mince skewers, served on flat bread with an Iranian dip
Once upon a time, I led a confined life, in an office, with all the 9-5ishness that came with it. Well, later hours, but you get the drift. Luckily for me, the old workplace was very fortuitously placed; right across the street from the ‘Vivanta by Taj’ property in Panjim. This doubtlessly meant that I was there more often than I had any business being, but that’s not complaint in any form. I’m no longer working right across the road, and yet, that hasn’t stopped me returning to the hotel whenever I can. I have long since been waxing lyrical about ‘Tamari’, the property’s oriental restaurant, and all that it stands for. However, my latest trip with friends involved an evening at ‘Latitude’, the all-day-dining outlet, which we heard had recently revamped its menu, and was calling to us most fervently. I had read a couple of reviews about the place in the papers, but to be honest, hardly anyone seemed to have scratched the surface of the menu, with everyone trying the safe bets like a ‘Chicken Ghee Roast’, when there was far more to explore.
We started the meal on the most positive of notes, with two starters that impressed us in equal measure. The first was the ‘Mexican Chicken Strips’, comprising farm-fed chicken strips, accompanied by house-made spicy smoked sauce and fries. The second dish on our plates was the ‘Persian Lamb Koobideh’, made of spiced lamb mince skewers, which were served on flat bread and Iranian dip. The dishes vanished in no time, and have plenty of appeal, when it comes to being a great opener, over conversation and nibbles.
Next up, to freshen the senses and palate, as well as an attempt to convince us that our eating habits weren’t all bad (an effort in vain, if I may say so) came the ‘Prawn, Tamarind and Chilli Salad’ – a light citrus salad, with fresh mint leaves and crispy peanuts. The tamarind dressing, quite frankly, wowed us. It was what we were looking forward to: light, refreshing and with just the right amount of sweetness and tanginess. I wouldn’t exaggerating if I said that we squabbled over who got to finish what was left of the dish.
‘The Italian Job’ is what the collective rumblings of our stomachs called for next, so after quickly perusing the menu we dove into the ‘Deep Sea Prawn and Iranian Saffron Risotto’. This dish is one that I would gladly recommend to people looking at a fresh and vibrant risotto, with Mediterranean influences coming through the flavours. The cook on the risotto, which often goes askew, was right on point, as was the perfectly cooked prawn that added still more flavour to the mix; spectacular across the board.
Next up on our order was a main that I thought only nailed half the brief, to be honest. The ‘Grilled Tenderloin’, which is served with fondant potatoes, spring vegetables and bean cassoulet, is a dish which is good, but also simultaneously flawed. The cook on the meat I ordered was perfect. I always eat my tenderloin medium-rare, and this part was executed to perfection; but the reduction it was served with was not appealing, and I would like perhaps a choice of sauce, the next time around.
Personally, I love it when chefs get innovative; when they take a classic that is safe and loved and put a spin on it, for the better. That, in a nutshell, is my experience with our next dish, the ‘Dal Khichdi with Chicken Tikka’. At Latitude, the old school rice and lentil dish can either be ordered plain or with a choice of vegetables or chicken tikka. For obvious reasons, we opted for the tikka, and it is, as things stand, my current favourite when it comes to Indian cuisine, not just at Latitude, but across restaurants. It’s where comfort food meets everyone’s favourite kebab, with little orange bits of chicken tikka melting into a thick, beautiful mess of golden-yellow.
Eventually, of course, we got to that course of the meal which I love: dessert. We’d been sold on one particular dish by two chefs across the course of the evening – ‘The Old Monk Mousse’. Old Monk, is arguably one of Goa’s most popular brands of liquor, with the rum being one of the most sought after in the country. This mousse is made with rum, dark chocolate, cookie crumble and pastry cream. However, while it looks stellar on the plate, it’s a dish that hasn’t completely won me over. I find that the mousse is a little too set, and I get why it is so, given that it is most likely set in a silicone mould to give it that stunning presentation. However, I’d be happier to have a little less attention to looks, and a little more focus on taste, because with that, I think that ‘Latitude’ would honestly have a signature dish that people could/would/should travel for.
I remain impressed with the drive that Jaikant Shroff, the General Manager of the property has, when it comes to F&B over the last year, with several festivals truly making their mark. The new menu at ‘Latitude’ still has things on it that I want to try out, namely their breakfast section, which seems just as promising as my meal was; but that is a story for another time, once I’m done sampling the goods.
When it comes to this menu, the more offbeat you go with your meal selection, the more you will be pleased, in my opinion.
There's a little something for everyone on the new menu, so it's fine to head over with a mixed bunch of folks.
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations) would be an approximate of ₹2,000 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Off D. B. Bandodkar Road, Santa Inez, Panjim, Goa 403001
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.