Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aqua…. go with the flow

There is a spanking new place in town open 24x7.Its vantage height gives you a feeling of déjà vu, as you watch the Mandovi River meander its way slowly into the sea. You could stand there for hours soaking in the sun and the water, but one would definitely recommend a brief sojourn into the coffee shop…Aqua.

A deep blue mural of fishing boats on the wall is a reflection of those anchored on the opposite side of the river in Betim. ‘So who is Sandra?’ I ask the soft spoken General Manager Nikhil Brid. The name was painted onto the boat, but Joe who was looking at the wide expanse of water just outside the restaurant…the pool, gave a guilty start and murmured self-consciously... ’Oh, just a girl I knew in Bandra.’ I gave him a steely stare, but he was saved for the moment by Nikhil’s comment…’we are part of the same sister concern of the original Sun-n-sand at Juhu, Mumbai.’

The menu has a variety of items…Indian, Goan and Italian. The Mutton Roganjosh and the kebabs are soft and succulent…definitely something to be recommended.

We are introduced to the Chef. ‘So Chef,’ we ask, ‘what is special on the menu today.’
Chef Rizwan is apparently known what we term as an innovative chef. ‘Try something different,’ he says, ‘although if you would like to have something from the menu, I could do so.’ Having already eaten the Indian food…which I strongly recommend…we decided to try the chef’s recommendations that afternoon.

Nibbling on soft rolls liberally spread with butter….that is one of the main causes of my add-on calories; we waited for the ‘innovative repast’ as promised by the chef. A group of 20 odd ladies were helping themselves liberally to the buffet. I dared Joe to comment on the butter which I had spread on my roll…you see looking at some of my counter parts indulging on their meal, gave me a feel good factor.

But before he could say anything, the starters had arrived. The delicately flavored smoked Chicken Salad was crisp and crunchy, the Prawn Reichade that the chef had decided to serve as a starter also good.

Then came the main course…the corn and cheese stuffed chicken, the herb grilled chicken and the grilled assorted vegetable to accompany it. The chatter of the group of ladies against the clatter of their forks as they replenished their plates time and again spoke volumes of the treats nestling in those chaffing dishes.

The Sun n sand after its spellbinding success in Mumbai and then in Pune has now reached Goa. ‘We are planning to open a Kebab and grill section by the poolside in the season,’ Nikhil adds. By now we are stuffed…just like that chicken. ‘It becomes more and more difficult to partake in a three course meal as age catches with you, I comment when the offer of dessert comes up.

‘No way,’ contradicts Joe, ‘we do not grow old…only wiser.’ Well wise guy, he has just given me the reason to splurge on what I love most…desserts.

‘Try our chocolate mousse and our Kiwi dessert,’ offers the Chef. ‘Tell me chef,’ I ask him, as we wait for the sweet finale, ‘are these items that you have served available to the regular guests.’ He nods emphatically. ‘I like to be known for my innovations,’ he confesses, ‘so if I get an advance order, I will definitely oblige.’ Kudos to him.

‘Well,’ remarks Joe, determined to have the last word, ‘you do not say item…it reminds me of an ‘item number,’ he laughs. Well that reminds me…I am definitely going to ask him about his item number, ‘Sandra’, when we reach home. He catches the glint in my eye.

The desserts were mind blowing…no two ways about it. The chocolate mousse was soft and melting, the kiwi dessert divine. Joe pushes both the plates in front of me. ‘Have fun,’ he says, but deep down I know that he is hoping that the Sandra episode will fade into oblivion.

Well, I always live for the moment…especially when it comes to desserts. A word of caution…if any of the girls names on the boats coincide with the women in your past…bite your tongue hard. At Aqua, just go with the flow.

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