Now there is a place in Arpora….full of ‘fusion’ surprises. Aptly named Mix Bar Grill and More…it’s a venue that creates a platform for food, dance, screening of sports events, karaoke, live acts, and high spirits. Well I will give you a brief insight of the ‘happenings’, but as usual it is the ‘food’ that is of prime importance for me.
Meet Manav and Lovely Paul…the husband and wife duo behind this enterprise. Although Manav originally worked for an MNC, his passion for food and a love for Goa made him leave the ‘bustling metropolis’ Mumbai and anchor here.
‘So what is his fare?’ I wondered as we walked into the trendy open space. The psychedelic colors blue and orange, of the ‘Bar Zone’ warmed our spirits. The ambience is ‘young’ but still comfortable for the ‘traditional’ frame of mind.
Well he has a medley of cuisines… ‘His very own experimentations’ Lovely states! Casting a glance across the menu there is Indian, Asian and Continental favorites…..so what ‘experiments’ did that need? I wondered.
Anyway Joe was at home immediately with his ‘Classic Margarita’. ‘Mix is a labor of love,’ Lovely says, ‘Manav oversees the kitchen making sure that every ingredient is fresh and prepared ‘a la minute’, so we recommend a waiting time of 20-25 minutes,’ she states.
Well there was plenty to do…even though we had not gone on an ‘event’ night. ‘What happens on those nights,’ we ask. The salad had now reached the table. A tuna salad with a lime and basil dressing- simple was my first thought. And ‘special’ was my next as the molars began its activity. The lettuce was crunchy, the fish flavor modestly vying with the basil flavored lime. The peppers red, yellow, green giving you the ‘Go’ signal. Now although I am not one for the ‘ghas-pus’…you see my daily diet of the same at home makes me crave more exotic preparations at the restaurant. I would definitely recommend this. Joe hastily downed his drink as he took on an extra helping.
Now all this time I had addressed myself to the salad…so I decided to give Lovely my attention. Joe took this break to order a Long Island Iced Tea. Now this place apparently has four days of events in a week…and three days of full menu dining. During the ‘events’ a smaller more practical menu operates…be it the jam session with a live band, karaoke or movie screenings.
But as I remarked…the only event I was concerned with was the ‘food’ although the football match was being screened on a full screen. Goans would love this. The starters arrived. Southern Shrimp and Crackling Honey Vegetables, the Indian and Asian influence. Now let me share that this is ‘one’ great set of starters that will make you shout ‘GOAL’ with joy. Manav had got the ‘experimentation’ just right. Imagine the Kerala coastline…roasted coconut with south Indian spices….medium prawns marinated to perfection and grilled and topped with swollen and fried red chilies. The aroma of the coconut will give you the feeling of ‘ghar ka’ cooking and when nibbled with a bite of prawn? Your taste buds will be sizzling. Great preparation! And the Crackling Honey Vegetables? The very name inspires a host of feelings....the sweetness of honey, the spice of Szechwan sauce and the batter fried vegetables being tossed around in this concoction before crackling in the mouth.
Manav decided to give us his ‘Continental’ favorites as the main course. Now I always believe in the maxim…chef knows best. So it was Spicy Prawn in Tomato concasse, Blackened chicken and Sea bass in lime and dill sauce. Let me take it step by step. First the Spicy Prawns which were attractively arranged in a mud pot with herbed bread around it on the platter. To a normal concasse (tomato puree) Manav had added his blend of spice, with a thick layer of gratinated cheese on top. The prawns had taken in this blend and when taken in with a nibble of herbed bread….a good preparation for those who like a tomato base.
The ‘Blackened’ chicken is the restaurants signature dish. ‘Our guests started spreading the word about this chicken,’ Manav says. So what is the ‘blackened chicken’? Grilled chicken, soft and succulent marinated in his special ingredients...a fusion of sesame oil, soya, honey and orange. Mediterranean? Asian? Indian? A blend of flavors that have captured the ‘conti’ foodies.
The Sea Bass of fresh…on a bed of spinach delicately flavored with a lime and dill sauce. ‘Every preparation is different,’ Manav says with pride. On the screen a message flashed “Professionalism is an attitude.’ Perhaps the Steaks which he recommends and the fancy preparation of Beer Can chicken…well a chicken sits on a open beer can and is gently grilled as the juices from the can permeates it during the cooking…will activate your taste buds.
Whatever the cuisine, or the spirit it is a Heady Mix because Manav and Lovely are offering so much more.
Mix – Bar Grill & More
Address: Calangute-Arpora Road
Arpora Main Market.