Sunday, May 18, 2008

The East meets West experience

‘East is East and West is West…and never the twain shall meet.’ Perhaps that saying was appropriate in the years of yore, but today fashion, music and even food has crossed the barriers, to create a new experience for the consumer.

So the name ‘East meets West ’ caught our fancy as we drove past the busy Tito’s junction on Baga Road. A well lit driveway, (yes on that crowded road the restaurant has thoughtfully provided a limited parking venue), and then we were into a haven for fine dining. Fine Dining in Baga ? Yes, I can see those raised eyebrows. But Jenny May has got her combination right….Continental and Indian food served in the precise Table d’hote manner to give you a fantastic experience.

The big courtyard is reminiscent of the days when one was invited to the local aristocrat’s manor for a meal. Tables set between tastefully decorated foliage, a small stage in the middle of the floor. The area is big…200 people can be seated comfortably. To one side is the well stocked bar, believe me it’s worth a drink. We sat nursing a Pimms No 1 and a Harvey Wallbanger….old favorites of our time. Have the youth of today drenched with Margaritas and Tequila or Vodka shots ever nursed these drinks? All I can say is that they are missing something. The ice tinkled in the tall glasses as I sipped on the Pimms, anticipating the strawberry and watermelon bits and the sweet lime wedge as they teased my upper lip on every sip taken.

The attractively laid table, with the comfortable (and I mean comfortable) wrought iron chairs was a pleasure to be seated on. The full cover for a three course meal stood mute testimony of what was to come. We had decided that Continental was the flavor of the evening, although we are informed that an Indian cook does full justice to the authenticity of that cuisine.

We order a cold Prawn and avocado salad and a hot Prawn Cassoulet. The starters arrive. When I speak of precise, believe me it is a fact. The cold prawn salad is served cold…and the prawn in cheese sauce gratinated in an oyster shaped dish on an underliner bearing the name of the restaurant is served piping hot…. and delicious. Uum. I mean it. The starters are sensational.

Jenny had warned us that if anyone came to her restaurant which she runs with her partner Vish, one should come for the experience... to dine at a leisurely pace. So don’t just drop in to gobble a dish and hop onto another area. So we decided to relax and soak in the atmosphere. The band played old retro numbers which compelled one to hop onto the dance floor to shake a leg. By the way it is also a good way to digest ones meal. We did just that.

When the band took a break, we embarked on our second course…the main course. Joe decided to have the Kingfish in Banana leaf BBQ, while I decided to go for something more substantial…..the dancing really helps in digestion, so it was the Tournedos Rossini with glazed mushroom sauce served medium rare for me.

The tables nearby were filling rapidly. I am given to understand that she does a full seating every night and weekends are a blast. Looking around I can well believe that.

The fish was heavenly, attractively placed with the baked potato on the embossed plates, the steak soft and juicy. By the way one can have a choice of that potato preparation…fries or jacket.

But let me tell you about that fish. I know that most cuisines use the banana leaf for the fish preparation…even in our Goan cuisine. Patra ni Machi is another well known preparation. But one would only experience it during feasts or special occasions. East meets West has it regularly on its menu. So if you are there look out for it. Besides that one can order the King Prawn Kebab or the lamb kebab (this is marinated in wine and dotted with pepper and tomatoes).

And now for the Sweet Sensation…..I am talking tongue in cheek. You see every Thursday the band, Sweet Sensation plays retro music. Are they good? Both are terrific! I am also referring to the Banofi Pie placed in front of me. Pastry, caramel, banana and fresh cream…from bottom up. Jenny makes her own desserts and this is her secret recipe. I have not had a dessert like this in the whole of Goa. She should patent this recipe. And the Panacotta…..not for the calorie conscious….fresh cream with a strawberry coulis.

We finally left the restaurant well after eleven, after spending a full three hours there. Did we feel the time? No siree. At the East meets West, one gets the whole experience…music, food and fashion…you don’t believe me, just look at how the tourists dress… to kill. What an experience! Joe will definitely vouch for that.

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