The day after our visit to Palácio Do Deão we once again spent most of our day at Cavelossim Beach (okay, so that was true of every day we spent in Goa but one). In the middle of the day, however, we took a break from the beach and drove up about 30 minutes to the village of Raia. We made the drive in order to eat at a celebrated restaurant, Fernando’s Nostalgia (or just Nostalgia). The Fernando in the name is Chef Fernando da Costa, who passed away in 2007, too young at the age of 56. The restaurant carries on, however, in his name and is still true to his vision: celebrating classic Goan Catholic food in its traditional avatar.
It is a large restaurant, located in a large compound which also includes the proprietor’s home—I know that Chef Fernando’s wife, Margarida, carried the restaurant on after his passing but I’m not sure if she’s still running it or how heavy her involvement is. Lunch is not the busy time here—as it wasn’t at Martin’s Corner either. The large dance floor speaks to their evening atmosphere, and our driver confirmed that they still draw large crowds on weekends for good food and a good time.
And that food is very good indeed. This was not a surprise as the restaurant had been highly recommended to me by my friend, the food writer, Vikram Doctor, who spends a lot of time in Goa. This was the place in South Goa to go to for old-school Goan Catholic food, he said; and as Vikram is not easy to please, that was not a recommendation I was going to pass up (he was one of those who’d suggested Palácio Do Deão as well, but that was a second-hand recommendation—we actually ate there before he did). Well, things at Nostalgia were as he’d described. Unlike, every other Goan restaurant we visited on this trip, their menu makes no concessions to touristic or local desire to eat anything but Goan food. There are no tandoori or Mughlai items here nor Indian Chinese or Continental. Goan Catholic food is what they do and some of what they do almost no one else does anymore—or so Vikram said.
For example, they have a couple of dishes featuring bacalhao or salt cod, which we did not see anywhere else. And unlike at some of the other restaurants we ate at, they serve a broad range of Goan vegetarian dishes as well. Well, we ate some of their bacalhao (in the form of croquettes) but we did not partake of any of the vegetarian fare. We were once again hampered by the fact that we were just two adults and two small children and also by the fact that we were going to go back to a very hot beach from the restaurant and stay there for another four hours. Indeed, of all the restaurants we ate at, Nostalgia’s menu left me with the greatest regret in terms of the sheer number of things I wanted to try but couldn’t.
What did we try? We started with the aforementioned salt cod croquettes, the pasteis de bacalhau. These were excellent. The boys ate most of a very good plate of squid butter-garlic and also very good fried, butterflied prawns, and helped us with very good chicken wings that had been marinated cafreal style and fried. Deprived their butter naans by the rigorous focus of the menu they ate their food with excellent chapatis. The missus and I then polished off almost all of an excellent large portion of pork vindalho—we ate most of it with paos and I also got a sanna. If you’re wondering what a sanna is, it is a fermented rice cake, often—but these days not always—made with toddy, and it was my obsession over the entire week we were there. Nostalgia’s version was the only commercial one that compared with those I purchased from the village market in Assolna, though it was altogether more refined in preparation.
To end the boys got an order each of the chocolate mousse—which they pronounced as good as that at Martin’s Corrner; I got an order of the bebinca—which I pronounced superior to that at Martin’s Corner and just a bit behind the excellent rendition we’d eaten at Palácio Do Deão.
Launch the slideshow for a look at the food and the space. Scroll down after that for thoughts on service and the overall experience and to see how much it cost.
All of the above plus some soft drinks came to about Rs. 2700 with tip or just below $40. Again, very good value for the quality and quantity of what we ate. I only wish we could back again soon with a larger group and eat more of their menu. Alas, that is unlikely to ever come to pass. Oh yes, service was very good: attentive, friendly and helpful.
I recommend Fernando’s Nostalgia highly to anyone visiting South Goa and though I have no idea what the traditional Goan food scene is in North Goa I’d guess it would be worth a trip even if you are in the North.
Okay, only a few more Goa reports to go. Before I get to them, however, I’ll have a writeup of a recent sushi lunch in St. Paul. That’ll be on Tuesday.