Thursday, June 19, 2014

Having dinner with a Goan Family

There are highly promoted eateries at flashy destinations where on a weekend you are sure to spot a few known faces as well. The food there is good, so is the ambience and d├ęcor. You come away feeling 'arrived'.

And then there are small little places with ho hum furniture, clean but not fancy crockery and an old friend’s home sort of ambience. Typically it would have a restricted menu, no alcohol, no nonsense owners and a small but loyal and frequent clientele. These are places you will frequent again and again to savor that unnamed pleasure of eating a good meal in peace without having to dress up for the occasion and remembering to not slouch over your plate while you try to lick up the last bit.

One such place on my list has been Bernado’s the little Goan restaurant in Gurgaon which everyone from tripadvisor to zomato will tell you is a must visit and which over the years has shifted location many a time. With the faithful always sniffing them out and walking in for yet another date with the awesome vindaloh or the sexy xacuti.

In her spare time between visits to the kitchen Aunty is on social media

Uncle and Aunty who run the tiny place at DLF Supermart 1 give you a polite smile when you walk in. If you are a new customer you adjust to the low height, less space scenario and wonder what is the fuss your friends have been making about the place. On the other hand if you are frequent visitors you share a few pleasantries with the couple, ask what is fresh today and then you settle down in the tiny space. 

He served us our food with a smile and then asked in Bangla if we enjoyed it :)
One of the boys in the brightly colored flowery shirts will ask you for your order and relay the same to Aunty who will nod and then head to the kitchen to execute the order.

As you become accustomed to the idea of the people sitting at the next table being able to hear everything you say (yes the space is that small) you tune in to the music playing in the background and find that its usually Portuguese and Konkani. The beats such that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in Goa.  If you were to ask you will find that the singer is a daughter of the family.

And instead if you were to look around you would find loads of b&w pictures of family holidays and  
occasions on the walls.

Get acquainted with family
Look closely and you will recognize Uncle and Aunty from their wedding portrait as well.

Even before you finish looking through all the pictures your food would arrive. Fresh, wholesome food with zero pretenses and 100% flavors.
On my latest visit to Bernados I had the partner with me, who had heard a lot about the place from me but never visited. So I let him order whatever he felt he could be comfortable with. Since he is not a fish eater the choice of course got a little limited.
Here is what we ate:

Mutton Croquettes

Arroz de Chourico (Goan sausage Pulao) 

Caldinho De Camarao ( prawns cooked in a mild yellow curry)

As always the food was well made and we ate in silence looking up only to make faces at the little girl at the
next table who (unlike our own little devil) was a sweetheart and kept sitting next to her dad and eating peacefully. Looking up only to smile at us from time to time.

Once done with the meal we asked what could we order for desserts and were told only Bebinca was available. The partner was thrilled as that’s one dessert he really loves.

The meal for two costed us about Rs. 1000/-.

We walked out satiated and happy. Bernados does that to you. It’s like visiting the home of an old school friend you have grown up with while the friend is away. You say hello to the parents, you ask after their health, you eat some amazing food and you come away feeling thrilled having relived some very happy memories. In our case the partner had proposed marriage in Goa so the place is forever special J

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