For a truly relaxing time, with great food and a pleasant ambience, head to Alila Diwa
Janice Savina Rodrigues | NT BUZZ
As much as I love being a recluse, work sometimes forces me to be the opposite, and this is exactly how I landed up in a car braving the rush hour traffic and heading down to South Goa, towards the very eclectic and cozy corner that is Alila Diwa Goa.
This is one resort that never seems to tire of surprising or pleasing its guests, from the very courteous security guards to the gracious general manager Sachin Shet, every person on the team is genial and looking to please. The night was still very young when we set foot there, and after a quick show around and polite conversations we were ushered towards the bar, after all that is what we had come here for – the Courtyard Bar and the Spice Studio.
The first thing you notice here is the elegantly styled wooden bar counter complete with soft leather seating, that comes straight out of a retro Hollywood movie. The bar spills out onto the open-air seating around the banyan tree in the courtyard, making it an idyllic evening venue. Alila Diwa has recently introduced a concept where you can choose from a diverse range of flavours, including floral, spiced, sweet gin and vodka and you can watch while the bartender makes your cocktail infusions right before your eyes in an apparatus that you might have used in your school science lab. With options such as a Manhattan with Kokum-infused Martini Rosso and Cherrywood Smoke or a customised gin and tonic made with their choice of herbs and spices, there is a lot you can do with these.
Teetotalers have no need to sulk, there are mocktails like the Kuch Nahi, doesn’t mean you’ll be sipping on air, but instead, a tangy concoction of pineapple cubes, coriander and citrus fruit soda.
My favourite was the Mahua cocktail. It had a light flowery fruity taste and the subtle intoxication that is reminiscent of the local urrak. And of course when you have a glass in hand you need something to nibble on and there’s a plenty on offer here – Goan Beef Cutlets, Rava Crusted Fish Fingers and Goan Chorizo Dumpling.
That takes us to the food, after the clinking of glasses, our chattering crowd headed to the Spice Studio that recently had a makeover. This elegant, contemporary dining area speaks of all things vintage – the decor, seating arrangements and the cooking techniques – and reflects a distinctly personal traditional Goan home that complements the menu.
An amalgamation of distinctly Indian, mainly Goan flavours, the spread before us had a variety – from Goan classics like rawa fried fish, prawn curry, tambdi bhaji and lamb vindaloo to the tangy Dahi Ke Kebab, Techa Paneer Tikka and a lot more.
We were also treated to a very rich chicken dish Murgh Ka Mokul – a heritage recipe from Rajasthan made with cashew paste and cream that made us feel like royalty. Shet pointed out that the menu has a lot more to offer, but he wanted us to have a meal reminiscent of the ones we might’ve had in our grandmother’s kitchen. And truly, chef Edia Cotta’s cooking and personal touch gave us all a nostalgic moment. The food was truly a delight! The curry was perfectly smooth and the Vangi Recheado was just the right balance of tang and spice.
With so much already on the platter, we had very little space for the dessert, but we couldn’t just turn down those beautifully decorated servings of Serradura, Alle Belle and the very interesting Cashew Feni Ice Cream, with its distinct alcohol flavour ubiquitous to Goa.
The Spice Studio truly feels like a piece of history relived.
So the next time you have guests who crave for a local taste or even if your family wants a taste of Goa without the hassle and in a five star setting, you should put this restaurant on your itinerary, you won’t be disappointed.