Top Table: Hospedaria Venite, Goa
The best place for feasting in the east
Saturday 17 March 2001
The Hospedaria Venite is in the Hotel Venite, on 31 January Road, Panaji, Goa, India (0091 832 425 537). It is in the centre of Goa's capital, Panaji, just back from the Mandovi river, on a street which leads down to Fontainhas, the old part of town.
Ambience and view
The tiny wooden balconies of this first-floor restaurant overlook pretty, multi-coloured buildings. Over their red-tiled roofs peek a couple of lanky palm trees and below, you can watch the flip-floppings of the evening's passers-by.
Through a narrow doorway and up a wooden staircase is a room full of Old World Portuguese style. The floorboards were salvaged from ancient shipwrecks. Wicker lightshades give a calming glow.
The night I was there it was full of foreign tourists - of all ages and dress codes.
Not speedy (this is South India), but friendly in a restrained sort of way.
International dishes (fried fish and spicy, home-cooked chips among them), with a strong Goan-Portuguese twist. Mains included Fish Balchao (fish in coconut and feni, the local brew) and Chicken Xaculti (chicken with roasted spices).
Expensive for Panaji but a bargain for the tourists. Mains cost between R65-85 (not much more than a pound), starters just R25.
Even if you spend R275 (£4), you would be wasting your money on a bottle of dodgy Vin Ballet. Spend R35 (50p) instead on an enormous bottle of Kingfisher beer.
Oh yeah, and the food
The freshness of the food explains, in part, the service. The clash of two coastal cuisines works well. The simple fried fish is amazing.
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