What would be your ‘pick’ at a particular time of the year? Now this term could be used by designers, colors and many creative ‘norms’ that one could decide upon. But in this case I am talking about ‘l Orange’…..no, not a color but a restaurant that is well established to blow away the heat and rain in what is termed as ‘off season’ in our tiny state.
So we decided to let our hair down and enjoy a night off in this sweltering heat. The restaurant is cozy, with a small sizzling grill right at the entrance. We walked in to a rich voice singing ‘Killing me softly…’ ‘It’s retro night,’ says Ashwin Lobo the proprietor of the place. He is the man behind the ‘food’…. We were joined shortly with his smiling partner Joe Dias...his specialty? The ‘mixes’ that go into his famous drinks! What a combo. ‘So what is it going to be this time?’ My Joe asks Partner Joe. Trust him to focus on starters. ‘A change from the last time,’ smiles partner Joe. I must take care not to get the wires crossed. ‘Sunset? Lady Monroe?’ was the query. The names sounded sizzling like the BBQ grill. I decided to check out the drinks menu to find out what ‘sizzled’ in these concoctions.
Now while we were in the ‘sizzling’ mode Ashwin briefed us about his ‘off season’, perhaps ‘season’ for us locals with everything returning back to normalcy to enjoy ourselves. ‘This is the time where we have an elaborate BBQ menu besides our old Goan favorite one,’ he states. I looked back at the potatoes dressed in their silver jackets and the rich red beetroot salad all tossed up and ready to be served as accompaniments with the grill. ‘Those accompaniments change everyday,’ Ashwin explains as we set about deciding on the starters.
‘Partner Joe’ brings about a tall glass of ‘chilled’ Orange Sunset. No punning on the word. The golden orange frosted drink seemed just right for a summer evening. My Joe takes a refreshing sip and nods his approval, that melodious voice…I am told that the singer is Richard..and he was singing ‘the House of the Rising Sun. The restaurant was filling up, local families and the singer got a huge round of applause as his last note died down.
And the starters had arrived. Waiters dressed in funky, trendy uniforms had placed the Honey ginger prawns (prawns cooked with an Oriental fusion touch) and spiced chicken wings peri peri. Now this dish needs no introduction. Remember I told you that Ashwin has a vast ‘repertoire’ of Goan preparations up his sleeve. ‘Learned them from my mother,’ he confesses as we ‘dig’ into those delicacies. For the ‘local’ flavor he has a ‘simply out of this world’ preparation of roast pigling chilli fry. Out of this world because I have yet to see many establishments feature this on their regular menu. Yum…Yum…Yum.
But the ‘piece de resistance’…the BBQ which we had ordered was now approaching the table. BBQ chicken and Baby Rack ribs (the underbelly) was our order. Of course there is a wide variety of seafood...the fisherman’s catch of the day (snapper, prawns, calamari, pomfret…) you take your pick available too.
The BBQ chicken was a thick wedge of boneless chicken steak served with that promised jacket potato and beetroot salad. The hot potato had a dressing of herb butter, while the sauce served with the steak was a rich garlic mayo. The beetroot salad had its own tangy vinaigrette dressing. Now you can imagine the combo of flavors your taste buds are subjected to. ‘My mouth goes boom…bang a bang....boom bang a bang…’ was that another retro number? NO! My mind was echoing the feelings of delight. And the Baby rack rib? If you are a true lover of pork fat…which I am…remember the story of Jack Sprat and his wife? I eat no ‘lean’. Yummy…yummy …yummy I got love in my tummy…simply delicious.
Partner Joe had brought in another one of his ‘special’ concoctions. They seemed to be going well with the food, because ‘my Joe’ was in a state of bliss. Guess the music and the drinks besides the food adds ‘zest’ (no pun on the Orange), to the evening. I mentioned this to Ashwin who agreed. ‘We have Wednesdays with Jazz and Blues, Fridays is dance night...salsa and rock, while Sundays is the ‘retro’ evening.’
But he had not stopped killing us with his food. Meat ball in the ‘home mode’ recipe … with sausage pulao…. Those minced balls in that green gravy…mind blowing. ‘It’s just the jirem miren mix,’ he says modestly.
Can one eat more? There was the dessert still to come and Ashwin had recommended the brownie with ice cream. A definite plus to end the meal…but for those who like to linger on through the night, Partner Joe has a special mix…’a perfect breakfast because it contains all four adult food groups…fat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.. says the menu.’ And if you think it is a breakfast item you got to be joking. It is Irish Coffee for people who want to relax and chill , till it is time to take 40 winks before breakfast.
There is no pick when it comes to a choice of ‘Oranges and Apples’. L’Orange is definitely the choice to make.