Located on the first floor of Royal Garden Hotel in upscale Juhu, Chef Gracian de Souza’s new offering is a treat to the eyes at first glance. From classic Goan dishes such as Sorpotel and Reichad to Portuguese favourites like Feijoada and Arroz de Marisco, the menu offers variety that is perhaps unmatched in Mumbai, especially when it comes to Portuguese food. Let’s see how the dishes scored on our dineout.
We dived headfirst into the starters with Kellfulachi Bhaji along with black gram (INR 250), a truly unique find that we loved. We tried another vegetarian starter, Coriander and Roasted Peanut Cakes (INR 225) with green chilly ros that was surprisingly not as spicy as it sounded.
Since the national dish of Portugal is Bacalhau made with cods, we figured we’d try the Indian equivalent by replacing the cods with sardines (Portuguese style pan fried sardines with roasted red peppers and charred potatoes for INR 300). While Bacalhau masks the smell of cods beautifully, we couldn’t get the taste of sardines out of our nose and mouths with this one.
Next, we were left gobsmacked by the Prawn Balchao’s (INR 425) fiery pickle that went perfectly well with the soft Goan Poie bread. The poie itself comes fresh from Goa everyday and is served with two different pickles, one made with brinjal and another with Bombay Duck.
We tried the Saraswat-style mushroom xacuti (INR 350) that transported us to the bylanes of Goa with a single bite. It was arguably the best dish we had at Porto and Poie, it’s irony compounded by the fact that the chef said he only just added the dish to serve vegetarian variety to his menu.
We were skeptical of the Portuguese Feijioda and apple chutney dish (INR 450) after the sardine experience but this time the dish lived up to expectations although we felt the chef could have been more generous with the chutney.
For desserts, we tried the famous Portuguese custard tart that was thankfully not as eggy as we initially feared. However, the crust of the tart wasn’t the best either. An okay dessert overall. The Serra Durra with mascarpone and crunchy almond brittle was a better choice than the tart and one that we ended our meal with.
The moment we saw Douro Valley (INR 400) and Ode to Fado (INR 400), the Portuguese in us leapt up with joy. The former drink is a blend of red wine reduction, vodka and amaretto that surprisingly didn’t offer as much kick as we’d hoped. Ode to Fado, with white rum, cherry brandy, cranberry tea and coconut bitters was a slight improvement. The true winner for us turned out to be Vasco’s Spirit (INR 500) in a macabre sort of way. The drink, made with Paul John whiskey, amaretto, mint leaves, cranberry-infused tea and peppercorn was hearty and strong, something that Vasco da Gama himself would have approved of on his long sea voyages between Europe and India.
AMBIENCE & SERVICE
Porto And Poie is a 100-seater restaurant neatly divided into indoor and outdoor sections. While the outdoor section has more charm during the current cold season, it was also a mosquito magnet. We shifted indoors where the lighting and mood was better. The servers had done their homework on the menu and had answers for all our questions, not easy when one of us has had an extended stay in Goa and another has waltzed through Portugal last year. Thus, it was as pleasant surprise to see Portugal’s famous azulejo blue tiles and Goan woodtops at Porto and Poie laid out beautifully for diners.
With a well-defined menu, super ambience and courteous service, we don’t expect anything but the best for Porto and Poie in the coming days. We give it a solid 4 on 5.
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