May 30, 2016
Tucked away in the Club Wing of Alila Diwa in the lush village of Majorda, is Bistro. A delightful restaurant to catch a quiet meal, refreshing drinks, whether its breakfast, sundowners or a hearty meal, Bistro never disappoints. Things just got fresher and more fabulous with the introduction of a host of daily specials that feature the restaurant’s organic farm-to-table philosophy. An entire menu that is designed around produce sourced directly from the resort’s organic garden, or from within a 500 mile radius of the property. The menu is seasonal, refreshing, creative and new – it changes every day based on Chef Mrunal Dhamaskar’s walk around the garden and the produce that is ready for harvesting.
With the new menu, the accent is clearly on sourcing local ingredients whether it is in crisp vegetables, greens, crunchy fruit, or lesser-known spices. And the menu does a brilliant job of presenting local favourites in a contemporary avatar. “The idea behind the implementation of this concept is to offer our guests a thorough global experience with the use of seasonal and fresh produce, delivering clean carbon free meals,” says Chef Dhamaskar, talking about his labour of love, a menu that is a delicate but beautifully balanced showcase of creative use of contemporary methods like molecular gastronomy and sous-vide on some very familiar and comforting tastes and dishes that are made entirely using homegrown ingredients and locally available produce.
At the heart of the menu is everything Goan – veggies that thrive in the coastal soil and climate, spices and condiments traditional to the cuisine, locally inspired elements in a modern avatar – presented with some panache, with an element of surprise and style in every dish.
Expect delightful beginnings that will kick your palate into action – like the house-made bread served with a garlic aioli spiced with local Goan chillies that are small, fiery and really pack a punch. Top that up with a single cube of compressed watermelon with feta toffee, dusted with edible soil and lemon grass perfume. Both so fine in texture, yet bold in terms of flavour that you need only a single small serving enough to jog your taste-buds to life. The watermelon cube comes with a shot of cooling fresh cucumber juice that is not sweet and acts as a good cleanser, topped with a savoury biscuit topped with local styled salad.
You could go light and try the soups, made from in-house veggies like doodhi and local specialty, red amaranth, which is soothing and warm, or you could dive right into the entrees that include fine seafood like salmon and scallops served in a medley of garden-picked greens and veggies, amaranth pesto. You could also choose the garden greens bruschetta with organic papaya salsa and kokum dust, prawns with organic tomato salsa. For mains too, try the native spice-free range chicken roll-ups that were spiced in the traditional cafreal masala. Or you could sample organic house-grown vegetables finished off with a silky egg white foam, or the 12 hours sous vide lamb shank that comes with chilli toddy emulsion with tulsi mash and fresh mint cress.
The wonderful thing about the farm-to-plate offering at Bistro is that every plate has a definite influence of local flavours, and a keenness to bring in as many elements from the garden into the plate, yet presented in a truly contemporary way, with an international touch.
The ambience complements beautifully, with verdant surroundings, an azure pool and inviting cocktails on offer. It’s quite easy to spend a languid few hours by the poolside restaurant, while the food is incredibly fresh, inspired locally but styled contemporarily.
The author is a writer and blogger, amateur photographer and self-taught home cook all wrapped in one!