For the love of good food….
Goa… The one word, the one place that most Indians look towards for relaxation and rejuvenation. The sea breeze all around, the party music, the beautiful bikini-clad girls, the beach shacks and the quirks in different aspects of life. Goa is an interesting mix of the most luxurious prime property hotels and the smallest of hotels with rundown rooms, fine-dining restaurants with cuisines from around the world and tiny “multi-cuisine” shacks and restaurants serving their versions of food suited to the Indian palate. In some ways, Goa is like an onion with many layers to peel off. The Bohemian Foodies were in Goa recently for a short 4-day trip. In that period, we did our research and decided to visit a small place called Bob’s Inn on the main Candolim road. Of whatever little we had read about it, it looked like a place with a lot of stories to tell. When we reached there, the tiny place didn’t disappoint.
If you are driving down the Candolim-Calangute road, you could easily end up missing Bob’s Inn, denoted by a small circular signage with a small entrance leading to the place. On entering you realise they have an outdoor area with about 5-6 tables and a slightly bigger indoor area with about 10-12 tables. At first look, the outdoor area might strike as a little rundown with a lot of dusty plants around and a huge tattered poster of Bob Marley (presumably the person behind the name), but that’s just part of the character of the place.
When you go inside, there’s a lot for your eyes to take in. Firstly, it is a dim place for the sunshine state of Goa. Then you realise all around there are some interesting artefacts be it the quirky lighting including mud lamps, jute lamps and cane lamps, striking paintings, worn out cloth banners or a cabinet holding some bottles. One thing you must do is give a visit to the small room in the main indoor eating area. That is the room of wonders – the room where the owner Pradeep Lawande sits proudly with his stack of bottles and awesome stories. He’s a guy happy to entertain you with a chat whenever you happen to just saunter into the room. And the room itself? At one end is a huge stack of empty bottles of alcohol from the 1960’s and a stack of bottles either full or half-full with alcohol of 1980’s! Around Mr. Lawande’s desk, all around were again interesting knick-knacks apart from the bottles. There was a small statue of Vasco Da Gama (the Goans still seem quite taken in by the legend http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasco_da_Gama ) and there was also a statue of an 18th-century hypnotist with a lady as his subject (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abb%C3%A9_Faria ). Just for saying hi to Mr. Lawande, we got a complimentary mini Papad! 🙂
Once we had ordered, we realised this is not a place to come to if you have a timeline in mind. It is a typically Goan place with the pace slow and life chilled out. The best thing to do here is to order a couple of King’s beers (the local favourite brand of beer), listen to unheard of interesting fusion music and not keep time as to when your food might arrive at the table. So unabashedly slow are they with the service that we were coolly told that the order was taking time as the gravy had gotten over with the huge inflow of customers.
When the food did come, it was worth the wait. So, we ordered Butter Garlic Mushroom for myself for the starter and Calamari chilly fry for the husband. Calamari is a type of squid, so popular in Goa that one of the bigger famous beach shacks is called Calamari. The dish itself was done in a Goan gravy – spicy and brown in colour with a hint of tanginess to it which went well with the Calamari which is tasteless in itself. The squid was well done and the chunks of capsicum added to the dish giving a crunchiness alien to the Calamari.
The butter garlic mushrooms were delicately flavoured with evident pieces of garlic and small green hints of coriander. The mushrooms were presented in a sauce more liquidy than we have usually had but it was yum! So full of taste was the sauce, that we ensured we finished till the last drop once we were finished gobbling up the squishy mushrooms.
The main course was a usual thoroughfare and nothing out of the ordinary. My husband ordered a beef steak which was done well and served toppled with the brown barbeque sauce and a side order of fries and boiled vegetables. The fries though were literally finger chip as they were the crispiest we have ever eaten with no soft part in it at all. I decided to be brave and go for the Paneer Chilly which was done in Goan gravy and admittedly the same gravy as the Calamari chilly fry. Surprisingly the paneer was softer than expected, slightly fried and the dish went well with the chapattis that I opted for as a side dish.
But the highlight of our trip was the dessert. On the menu was a dish called “Bob’s Banana Special” (yeah yeah, laugh all you want…. we have had our share of giggles over the name). The dish was described as “Banana tossed in butter with grated coconut and brown sugar finished with honey”. That I thought was as quirky as it gets. We decided to go for it and the gooey golden dessert was served to us warm in a white ceramic dish. My husband was the guinea pig and he went for the first bite. When he with the extracted sweet tooth gave it a thumbs up, I knew I could risk it. I took a bite and only after 2-3 bites did I get my head around the taste and really start to enjoy it. It was a soft mini banana split into half vertically and fried, crowded with fried sweet grated coconut and swimming in a sauce of honey, butter and brown sugar. In all fairness, my description will not do justice to it and what really will is when you taste it. I am generally wary of the non-chocolatey desserts. This dish though ensured I will want to experiment some more in the future to discover such hidden gems. Bob’s Inn is a place with fantastic value for money food. For 2 beers, 2 starters, 2 main course and a dessert, we ended up paying Rs. 1,230. Try doing that in Mumbai! If you are looking for a place to eat in Goa, slightly different from the innumerable shacks and fine-dining, a place with it’s own character and quirks, then Bob’s Inn is a must-visit.
Name: Bob’s Inn
Specialties: Bob’s banana special, Butter garlic mushroom, Calamari chilly fry
Address: Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, Goa. Landmark: Next to Le Seasons Resort
Ratings: Variety: 4/5
Veg/Non Veg: Both
Value for Money: 4/5
Food quality: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5