This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The starter called Octa, comprising smoked salmon layered with cream cheese and chives, and drizzled with sweet mustard sauce
I am not one to heap lavish praise where it’s undeserved, and let me start right off by saying this, this place deserves it. One cannot give any establishment full marks, purely for the sake of argument, or else I would have gladly given Arthur’s Theme in Candolim a gob-smacking rating. They have everything running like a smoothly oiled machine. Great service with immensely friendly staff, great ambience, supremely good food and most importantly, transparency on their menu. Let’s come back to that last bit for a second. I was impressed by this, primarily because the moment you walk into a restaurant and see the magical words ‘ask your server the price of the catch of the day’, you are filled with a feeling of dread about burning a hole in your pocket. At Arthur’s Theme, there is no such catch. From baby lobster to a variety of seafood, everything here is priced in fixed numbers, and you know exactly what you’re getting into.
The restaurant is the brainchild of its chef and founder, Navtej Sawhney. His first foray into the Arthur’s Theme space was in Koregaon Park, in Pune, in 1997. Based on a medieval concept that paid homage to King Arthur (with every dish named after a famous stately individual from days of yore) the restaurant ran incredibly well and became a fan favourite; so much so, that he opened a second restaurant within the city, in the locale of Baner, not 14 months ago. The Goa chapter is smaller, he admits, with a less expanse menu, but one that he has many hopes pinned on. But enough about the background of the place; let us get on to what really matters: the food.
Navtej recommended a series of starters, beginning with the Don Quixote. This isn’t your regular run to the windmill variety of starter, but it certainly had me running back for more. Shaped more like a patty than the usual cylindrical form that Goa is accustomed to, these cheese croquettes are deep fried and served with a dipping sauce. They are crisp on the outside, yet perfectly gooey and cheesy on the inside. But the only problem with the dish was that it was served alongside the Queen Marchell; broiled mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese and herbs, cooked in an oven and accompanied with Santa Monica salsa. You can’t blame the good don for bowing out of the competition, really. The other starters included the likes of Octa, comprising smoked salmon layered with cream cheese and chives, and drizzled with sweet mustard sauce; and my personal favourite of the round, Alexia, which contained marinated prawns wrapped in chicken, which were then grilled and tossed in a spicy sauce. Think bacon wrapped prawns, but with the succulent nature of chicken on the outside. To…die…for.
While we waited for our main course to arrive, we were presented with a Pollo Pizza. It had a generous topping of barbecued chicken, caramelised onions and mozzarella, but here’s my only issue with the dish. A pizza, is a pizza, is a pizza. The crust was fine, the toppings were fine. It was just fine. And that can at times be an Achilles heel. When you serve outstanding food, the dishes which are good, can look average. If you’re a pizza lover, you’ll love it, but it’s more of an add-on for me than a mainstay.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The tale of a steak called Fabian
The main course finally arrived, and our first serving was that of the Zola. Comprising grilled fish fillets accompanied with softened Indonesian curry sauce and potato croquettes, there was a little bit of the orient in a dish that could well be on any European menu. Vying for its attention was a lovely lady called Heidi, who came in the form of a flame-grilled breast of chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar and pink pepper corns, served with sauce Espagnole and accompanied with French fries. Also a great dish, but still not at the top of my list, which was the final main: Fabian. This was a barbecued steak topped with creamy garlic sauce, served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. But here’s the impressive bit about the dish: the cook on it. It was a perfect medium rare, as ordered. It wasn’t under or over. Like the little bear in the tale of Goldilocks, it was just right.
Speaking of an Achilles heel, mine has always been dessert. It’s a course I cannot skip, and often quip that I have a different stomach for just dessert. And was I glad that I could manage the space. The stuffed crepes with chocolate cream sauce and honey are to die for. Delicate with evenly distributed lines of cream and chocolate on the inside, it was outstanding. As was the lemon soufflé, served ina little jar, and garnished with lemon zest. I believe that the latter is a firm favourite of Navtej’s.
I normally talk about places that I firmly believe people should go to. But for the first time in a long time, I find myself questioning why I haven’t returned there yet. Definitely something that needs fixing.
Arthur's Theme, apart from great food, has impressed me in terms of their transparency.
Order at will, and have no reservations; for Arthur's Theme doesn't know how to cook food badly.
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
Acacia Hotel & Spa, H. No. 586/A, Sequeira Vaddo, Main Candolim Road,, Candolim, Goa 4035151
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.