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A charming café with a distinct vibe and utterly refreshing menu is the last thing you will expect to find in a by-lane of Mapusa. And yet Ruta’s presents exactly that. Adding a much needed eatery to the area, Ruta’s presents an inviting vibe and is just the kind of place one can go to with no agenda. Whether you take your work there, catch up with friends over coffee, or just go over with a book to enjoy a few hours of peace and solitude – you’re sure to find your niche there.

Located within the premises of Fabindia in Mapusa, Ruta perfectly complements the home-store with its casual garden café setting. Chose from being seated in cooler air-conditioned indoors, listening to groovy, but unobtrusive music, or find yourself a table in the garden just outside to enjoy the outdoors. Free wifi, pleasant, well-lit environment and cheerful staff who are more than happy to let you be in peace make this a great place to spend significant lengths of time.

A spiffy new rejigged menu, and the additional offer of beer, wine and select cocktails adds to the spread that is deceptive. Designed to fit two sides of a neatly laminated table-top menu, it is in fact formidable. It is a creative labour of love – the work of Chef Ruta Kahate who runs the café, it brings together a global medley of flavours, presenting it in a refreshingly simple avatar that cashes in on fresh produce, bold flavours and no-fuss presentation that lets the food do all the talking.

The best part? There’s something for everybody. In need of an upper? Try the dessert spread. Want something hearty and sumptuous, try the specials – they’re seriously promising! Want something light to nibble? Try the super salads or sandwiches to keep you going.

Specials change every day, and vary hugely. Expect everything from soups to salads, stir-fries to bakes, pastas to hearty sandwiches. Every item is put together with care, condiments and French-fries made in-house, and flavours delicately balanced by Ruta’s experienced palate.

We sampled the spicy roasted red pepper and tomato soup – a velvety comforting beginning. The salads on offer included arugula, apple and almond with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette, and an apple and kohlrabi salad with a simple lime vinaigrette. Both salads were fresh, simple and dressed perfectly to allow the flavours to shine.

The sandwich spread left us spoilt for choice and after much indecision, we settled for the shrimp po’boy with fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and remoulade sauce – a classic sandwich from New Orleans that comes served in a crust submarine-styled bread, made-in house since the bread plays a key factor in making a po’boy what it is.

Specials will lure you, so go well-prepared to binge, or choose well and make sure you save space. We sampled the Vietnamese stir-fried beef with veggies, served over rice. Spicy, tangy and with all the right Asian flavours mingling with the beef and surprisingly – okra! Delicious and fulfilling, it gave the other option – warm glass noodles with crispy tofu and greens with a sesame dressing – serious competition. If anything, we’re going to have to go back for more, just to sample that too.

Desserts options fancier things like almond torte and Ruta’s signature sticky buns (cinnamon and sugar buns stuffed with nuts and served with a warm toffee sauce drizzled over it) that are served up in the same rustic, home-style. And just when you think you’re done, the smiling waitress will ply you with the offer of a spread of hot and cold coffee and teas, fresh seasonal coolers. You’ll want to sample this so you can linger around a while longer. Because Ruta’s is not a café where you sneak in, grab a quick bite and rush out. It’s a place that welcomes you like a hug and asks you to make yourself comfortable.

Everything from the simple menu, casual but relaxing seating and cheerful staff add to it – so don’t be surprised if you step in for a quick meal, but leave with a belly and heart full of joy.

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