Lazy lunches & Sexy Sundowners

Planet Goa goes exploring from Ashvem to Rajbagh! Here are a few of our favourite places to hang out and chill in style this season…

‘There’s never a dull moment in Goa’, said a wise man once. There is just so much to do here, so much to experience and so much still left when you’re on your way back home that you just have to come back! We felt similar pangs as we embarked on a most exciting journey across the coastal belt looking for chic and elegant seaside eateries where you can fashionably kick off the Jimmy Choos and put up your manicured feet, enjoy the sun and the breeze with a sexy drink, Kindle, splash on oodles of sun-block and of course don the Ferragamos.

Our tryst with style began in northern most Ashvem beach where we stepped into the uber chic Our Shack, a labour of love for model/ actor Isaiah who is a goaphile to the core. Our Shack at Ashvem is a sister concern of Our Shack at Ozran beach (little Vagator) that was quite the rage a couple of seasons ago. At Ashvem, Isaiah decided to bring to his loyal clients the same hip style and delicious food that the Ozran place was famous for. So you have delicious thin crust pizzas coming out of the wood fired oven, lovely Mediterranean cuisine to nibble on, large sofas to lounge on and of course a wide variety of tipple to choose from as you lie back and enjoy the gentle breeze. Our Shack also has cottages for those of us who’d rather just stay here than drive around town.

Our next stop was the erstwhile Yoga resort at Ashvem beach that has now transformed into the stylishly comfortable Anahata. This beach front wonder is run by Angela and Rishal Sawhney who bring with them a unique blend of western and eastern design. Angela who belongs to Geneva and Rishal, a lawyer from Delhi, decided to give up the stresses of big city life and create Anahata which is really a space of absolute bliss and relaxation. Surrounded by lush greens all around and the sun kissed beach right in front, the property has sea view cottages and beach front huts, an open air yoga space and our favorite – L’atelier, their fusion Al fresco restaurant. L’atelier is quietly making its presence felt in culinary circles as the ‘it’ place for a different kind of gourmand experience. Angela describes the fare here a ‘French cuisine with Indian accents’. Chef Nicolas Fontrier designs each dish to be a perfect combination of fresh local produce, Indian flavours and French techniques thereby creating unique dishes that are truly unique. The menu here keeps changing depending on what’s freshly available in the market so don’t go with your heart set on anything but rather with an open mind to try the unexpected!

From L’atelier we moved just a few blocks up to the very large La Cabana Beach & Spa. The long winding walk through the stunning property takes you directly to the large restaurant, Palasha, that sits pretty overlooking Ashvem beach. A multicuisine joint, Palasha bar & Restaurant has something for everyone. The menu is wide and the choice seemingly unlimited with Mediterranean, Sea food, Indian, Tandoori, Western and Goan dishes to choose from. Those in the know claim that their tandoori food is to die for. We however settled for a chat over coffee at Palasha as the waves crashed and the kite surfers played havoc on the Arabian Sea right before us. A nice chill out joint for those who are staying at La Cabana, that has luxury tents, wooden cottages, beach facing villas and even Portuguese villas on offer. A favourite amongst wedding crowds, La Cabana and Palasha have had their fair share of nuptials by the beach.

We moved further up the road to a restaurant that is probably one that is most written about in this coastal belt. La Plage, the French restaurant, perhaps has the distinction of being one of the oldest and most talked about places this side of Goa. If you are not a native Frenchman then you will find reading the menu a bit challenging and like us are most likely to skip the French name and go straight to the English translation and point to the number instead. The food may be difficult to pronounce but it’s the exact opposite on the palate. Fresh smooth flavours, that quite literally transport you to foodie heaven once you take a bite of the succulent meats and vegetables, are what give La Plage a must visit status amongst the culinary circles. Their signature Tuna Fillet with wasabi and mashed potatoes deserve a verse or two as do their desserts. The restaurant has a very relaxed chic vibe, a favourite among the fashionable Mumbai crowd, it is not unusual to run into a few stars dining away with their Ferragamos firmly in place. Head here if you are in for an artsy, sophisticated fine dining experience and you can indulge on a bit of retail therapy on the way out at Le Souk, a space for designers from all over Goa and beyond.

Our tryst with Ashvem beach came to an end with La Plage as we drove away leaving behind the gleaming sands of the quieter side of Chapora River to a more bustling side – Baga. The last few seasons haven’t been kind to Baga, the beach has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and prominent people have written scathing pieces on Baga beach and its unruly underbelly. And while all may not be right with the most popular beach in Goa, we have to admit that all is also not wrong. Before the fashionable crowds write it off as a ‘common’ destination, a trip to Rockfish might just turn the tide for them. Rockfish Beach Lounge & Grill sits languidly at the northern edge of Baga beach right next to Paes resort. With plush white interiors, interesting art and an overall designer appeal, Rockfish stands out as an island of luxe pleasures at Baga beach. The menu features an exquisite choice of drinks that range from coolers, to boozy slushes and blingy bubblies that is an absolute wonderland for the thirsty soul. Chef Ankur Gulati has designed the food menu with care and includes favourites from Italy, Spain, and the Mediteranean. While we would sell our soul for the Chicken Shavarma and Lamb Tagine, their signature Tiramisu in a pot (an award winning dish) is a trip to paradise in every bite. Rockfish with its sophisticated cuisine and interiors attracts a refined high society crowd. Certainly a place that would give most five star fine dining restaurants a serious run for their money, Rockfish stands out for its superb balance of luxe fine dining in not-so-fine Baga. And that’s how a perfect diet plan crumbles throw caution to the wind when you step out for a lazy lunch this Sunday

Destination One at Calangute Beach is a sight for sore eyes. The blue and white interiors here reflect the azure calm of the Arabian Sea and gives you a dining experience that combines many in just one location. For a hip meal by the sea there is Escapade – Al fresco dining by the beach, for a more soul stirring experience one can enjoy the luxurious hospitality of Panacea their Lounge Bar and if you want to throw a party that is talked about for its elegance and panache then the Sea Lawns at Destination One is the place to be. Truly a destination that packs a whole lot into one refined package, Destination One is the place to head to when you need serious pampering and pleasure.

The Park Calangute has been instrumental in redefining the hip and the sexy party scene in Goa. A designer’s delight, this uber chic hotel is home to two stunning beach front hangouts – Love & Peace. Love restaurant overlooks the quiet stretch of Calangute and plays host to some of Goa’s hottest fashion events. They recently held the Coastal Seafood Festival that showcased the very best of Indian coastal cuisine curated by the chef that had a special emphasis on fresh ingredients put together with style and flair. Peace bar that sits right above Love is a sexy hangout for the hardcore party crowd. Sundowners at either Love or Peace are perfect for those who like to end the day on a sexy note.

Our last stop in the north was La Brise in Candolim. Part of the Novotel Goa Shrem resort, La Brise is quickly evolving into the new ‘it’ place for the young and the restless. Host to the Supersonic after parties, La Brise tends to draw in the sassier crowd in the hip Candolim beach area. The food is simply divine featuring the best of beachy nibbles and tapas to go with fiery cocktails and champagne sunsets. A great place to relax and watch the world go by in style, La Brise scores high on its overall chilled yet chic ambience.

Crossing three rivers for the love of fine food and wine is a commitment worth the miles. We continued our search for Goa’s hottest hangouts by the beach as we crossed Chapora, Mandovi and Zuari rivers to land on the almost, virgin expanse of south Goa. Old habits die hard, so without much research we landed up at Zeebop by the Sea, a restaurant that has quite literally stood the test of time. Known for its delectable seafood, Zeebop is one of those places that you can never go wrong at. The sun feels right here, the sand is softer, the beach shimmerier and the food…oh the food… if orgasmic is an inappropriate term then well, mea culpa. Fresh off the nets catch accompanied with your favourite beer watching the sun go down at Utorda beach, life can’t get better than this, and really it shouldn’t have to.

From the silvery sands of Utorda we made our way to the stunning Cavelossim beach where the waves are gentle and the people ever so friendly. Home to some of South Goa’s biggest hotels, Cavelossim is the go-to place for some much needed R&R activities. South End Ocean Club & Grill which is part of the Champions Beach Club is the newest property on the beach. Park at the main road and walk through the lush garden that has a portion dedicated to caravans and you arrive at this chic dining destination. Serving a host of cuisines ranging from Continental, Italian, and a bit of Indian as well, South End manages to draw you in with its stylish interiors and the promise of a hip evening. Having opened in November 2014, they have successfully established themselves as the Friday party destination of South Goa. While they are still coping with teething issues, South End Ocean Club & Grill has the trappings of a potential winner.

Fisherman’s Wharf by the river Sal is our cheat entry into this list of seaside dining destinations. While there may not be any silvery sands here or lashing waves, Fisherman’s Wharf on the pier at River Sal is a dreamy culinary stop that one simply can’t miss out on in south Goa. A restaurant that wins awards year after year for seafood, Fisherman’s Wharf is the go-to place for fish lovers. With a distinct old world Goa charm, this cozy little restaurant has carved a niche for itself as a romantic seafood specialty restaurant. A definite must-do on our list of south Goa restaurants, Fisherman’s Wharf is open throughout the year so drop in anytime.

Our last stop in the quest for fi nding the best seaside restaurants in Goa was at The Lalit in Rajbagh. The Lalit Golf Resort & Spa is a favourite destination for golfers in the state and wedding groups from all over. Their best kept secret however is their seaside shack, Corta’s. An award winning restaurant, Corta’s is known for its fresh seafood preparations, grills and easy going vibe. With an enviable location, Corta’s overlooks the vast expanse of unspoilt Rajbagh beach. The restaurant which is named after aunty Corta, who used to sell her home-cooked meals at the shack, is a seasonal treat open only from October to May.

As we walked out of Corta’s licking our fingers and watched the sunset we realised that our quest for seaside dining restaurants may be done for now but there is still so much left to do, to see, to eat, and to experience in Goa.

Text & Pics: Amina Mahfooz Azad

For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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