This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The 'Grilled Vietnamese Prawn Cakes' with a coconut lime dressing is a definitely interesting dish'
There are little stories that are seldom told, which have a lot of bearing on the way things play out over the course of time. Take this next anecdote for instance. For over 20 years, a little spot called 'Amigos' shone under the Nerul Bridge. My memory generally serves me well, and in this case, unless I'm very much mistaken, it was a case of the wife, Sabita immortalising her husband, Joe's efforts out fishing for the catch of the day. Once upon a time, the ‘Full Goan’, which I believe was inspired by the ‘Full English Breakfast’, was a force to be reckoned with in this kitchen. Sometimes, if you timed your arrival just right, you could hop into the canoe, as it set off into the river, catch your own fish, and have it cooked for you, upon your return.
It’s been a while since the trips I then made, and ‘Amigos’ is no more. In its stead, lie the recently rechristened premises, which now go by the moniker, 'The Lazy Goose'…and make no mistake, the setup at this restaurant is spectacular. It’s a proper boat-house/quayside grill, and it couldn’t have asked for a better location to launch such a venture. There are a couple of partners involved in the endeavour, including renowned chef, Rohan D’Souza. However, over the course of my meal, I met another one of the restaurant’s driving forces, who goes by the name of Dean, who gave me the low down on everything in their veritable nest by the water.
But let’s get to the food, for that is, at the end of the day, the basis of this conversation (and most other good ones). The meal began with three starters, in the form of ‘Vietnamese Pork Spring Rolls’, which are crispy parcels stuffed with minced pork, glass noodles, crab meat and mushrooms, served with a sweet chilli sauce; ‘Steamed French Style Mussels’, cooked in white wine, garlic, butter, herbs and a dash of cream; and ‘Grilled Vietnamese Prawn Cakes’ with a coconut lime dressing on top, like a layer of foam, is definitely a unique touch that's very contrasting to the other flavours in the dish, balancing it all out nicely. I loved the way that the prawn cakes were presented, with the tails having been left on top of little patties, to serve a faux purpose. The mussels too, were cooked in a beautiful sauce (which can be soaked up in the warm poie it’s served with), but sadly, our order was a little gritty, and we cleared our plates away in anticipation of the mains that were about to arrive.
The ‘Lazy Goose Surf & Turf’, I would have to say, was the best dish from our selection of dishes for our main course. I’m a stickler when it comes to my steak being a perfect medium-rare, and the cook on the meat was spot on, while the prawn that accompanied it was absolutely succulent. The char-grilled medallion and its seafaring companion were served with a truffle béarnaise sauce, beef pepper jus, truffle mash and market veggies. I would definitely put that dish down as one of the highlights of the evening.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The ‘Lazy Goose Surf & Turf’, I would have to say, was the best dish from our selection of dishes for our main course
I had a small niggle with the use of the truffle in my first main, but I’ll point that out in greater detail, while discussing the next dish: the ‘Wild Mushroom & Truffle Risotto’, served with goat cheese and local spinach. To be fair, in both dishes, I would love a hint of more truffle flavour. Maybe a drop of truffle oil may do the trick, because I know that with the ridiculous cost of produce in India, expecting to have it shaved at your table is completely unrealistic. P.S: The portion size of this dish is MASSIVE.
Our final main was the ‘Grilled White Pomfret’, which is stuffed with spicy prawn-meat, and served with a Burmese yellow curry sauce; full marks for the sauce, which can sometimes let an entire dish down; full marks to the fish holding in all its flavours, which were fabulous. The spicy prawn-meat though, was pasty in consistency, and needed a little more heat to swim its way into the spicy category. Perhaps it’s just me that looks for a little more chunkiness for texture in the filling, but in terms of a well-cooked fish, full marks.
It eventually came to that part of the meal which I love best: dessert. We decided to dive into the ‘Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse’ and the ‘Caramelised Apple Crème Brûlée’. The mousse for me, was brilliant. It had the perfect blend of hazelnut and dense milky chocolate (not unlike Nutella, which I adore), and is set on a crunchy nutty base. Much like the risotto, this serving is a whopper. The crème brûlée, if I’m being honest, paled alongside its partner, but perhaps that’s because from the name I expected more. The crème in itself was lovely, but the roasted apple that topped the dessert, I wasn’t completely sold on, as it felt just a tad grainy. That mousse though, I’m still thinking of very (perhaps too) longingly.
On a side note, adding a touch of absolute class, the new chefs and owners have added the most popular dishes from the 'Amigos' menu, and devoted a section to the former premises that were ever so legendary. Dean says that that’s largely down to the fact that the current crop of owners (himself included) used to be regulars at the place in its previous avatar; and as such, paying homage to it was but natural. The section is called ’20-Year-Old Goan Classics By Amigos’, and features some of the former place’s absolute belters, such as the ‘Amigos Signature Baby Red Snapper Stuffed With Recheado Masala’.
The ‘Amigos’ ship may have sailed, but there is plenty of promise for ‘The Lazy Goose’ to be so much more than its predecessor, with just minimal tweaking. I absolutely loved how they took all critique in their stride and laid the onus for all shortcomings on themselves as well as asked for suggestions for improvement, as opposed to an attitude that I come across very often, which involves a statement of “this is how we do it”. I think that this one could well be a huge attraction for both tourists and locals, in the times to come, and I do hope that it plays out that way.
The view and setting in itself make 'The Lazy Goose' an outstanding location, be it for date night.
The Tasmanian Scallops are the dish I had driven for, but were unavailable at the time. If you have better luck with their availability than I do, they seem a worthy dining option.
The average cost of a meal for two, minus the libations, is ₹2,000 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Under the Nerul Bridge, Nerul Goa 403114
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.