Sunday, May 18, 2008

The ‘Lob n Stir’ Shack

The dragonflies hovered around the sunset, the sun a huge ball of golden fire sinking slowly in the horizon….its dying embers glowing against the purple streaks of dusk. Hey, it’s me again, and no, its not Joe at his romantic best that is taking me into this frame of mind. Where on earth will you get grass, sand, sea and fire all blending in a straight line. Where does ones emotions get stirred with the dance of the dragonflies and the sizzling aroma of freshly grilled fish.

At the Lobster Shack of course, the Shack at the Taj Exotica that can lob and stir your emotions to a dizzying height…a ‘fine dining’ shack to entertain Uncle Edward from Canada and Aunty Carole from UK…or maybe cousin Shetty from Bangalore and Arminder Pal Singh your business associate from Chandigarh.

But first let me tell you about our experience. If you want ‘style’ then go for it. From the Lobby of this 5 star hotel, the buggy takes you on a tour, through the croquet lawn, the golf course and then parks on a green lawn which has elegantly designed chairs and tables overlooking the sands. No trudging along the pathway, no slog overs on the sand. WOW!

We were seated in comfort talking to the Executive Chef Arun and the chef of the restaurant Chef Amit. Chef Arun has just come in from the Mumbai Taj, and he explains a novel concept that is operational for dinner. ‘We believe in a blend of international flavors,’ he explains, ‘unlike what you get in most shacks. Moreover you just pay for the main course,’ he says, ‘you will get a soup of the day, eight salads, five desserts plus an ice-cream absolutely free.’ Well I have heard of the one for one free concept, but a one for eleven plus, free takes the cake…literally.

So we looked up the menu to check and see what was on offer. True to its name it had Lobster or if one wanted you could order fresh water scampi or jumbo prawns. Now here is the interesting part. While the seafood is grilled…recommended by the chef so that the seafood flavor is not lost, one can choose from the nine different sauces to accompany the treat.

So while the fish is cooked, we savor the steaming hot broth and munch on leafy greens and organic salads as we take in natures beauty. I looked at the different accompaniments listed on the menu. True to chef’s boast there was, the different influences creeping in. You could have the roasted shrimp cappuccino (Continental), the lime and ginger cream (a fusion of East meets West),the Soya chilli (Asian), or the Cafreal (we cannot leave our Goa out of the picture). There were some more listed there...but before I could run down my eyes through the list, the waiter had placed the Lobster, the scampi and the Grilled Snapper right in front of us. Under John’s supervision…he is the Restaurant manager; the service is discreet and unobtrusive. Besides the accompaniments…today the Chef’s special is… the pineapple and the basil relish.

Crusty slices of fresh bread buttered liberally added to the joie de vie, as darkness settled and the lanterns came on. The soft band played in the background, its soothing melody adding to the euphoria as morsels of the tasty fish melted in my palate. The lime and ginger cream was a perfect blend to the snapper, I managed to pull a small piece off Joe’s plate when he was communing with nature, while the roasted shrimp cappuccino…I am given to understand that it is a shrimp broth that is aerated like a cappuccino, kudos to these chefs of today, was mind boggling.

Oh, by the way, there are different main courses listed on the menu. Pork spare ribs in apricot and mustard sauce, Tenderloin wrapped in bacon served with béarnaise sauce, braised baby lamb shoulders which were lamb shanks in rosemary jus and roasted garlic. That was the western influence. The Indian...Tandoor Clay oven charred chicken and our very own Goan favorites cooked to your choice.

And then the dessert! I find it difficult to pen down my feelings. The saliva just gathers up as I relive that evening. Tiramisu, Passion fruit in cognac slice, Chocolate and walnut, Linzer torte and Beri beri icecream.

Chef Arun was telling me about the international chef Gordon Ramsey of the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ fame stating that in today’s world everyone had competition. All I can say, after that excellent repast, we had reached ‘Heaven’s Kitchen of Shack Dining’, done in style, and for that concept I feel there will be very little competition.

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