Thursday, January 18, 2018

Authentic Goan food to a delectable Thai spread, here’s what to expect at the restaurants at Taj Holiday Village || Caravela, Beach House, Banyan Tree and Drift

Goan style cocktails and food in cozy Goan restaurants, an Oriental experience and dining in a boat-themed restaurant, the food establishments in Taj holiday Village in Candolim are sure to make your Goa holiday a special one. The entire team, along with their able chefs and mixologists, churn out some great food and concoctions to make sure you have a fabulous dining experience. Here’s what to expect while dining at Taj Holiday Village. Read about my staycation at Taj Holiday Village here. 

Breakfast at Taj Holiday Village

You can opt to have your breakfast in your room or head to their multi-cuisine restaurant, Caravela. The best part about eating at Caravela is – you could sit by the beach on the deck and watch the waves as relish your meal. We however, asked for in-room breakfast and they were happy to set it up wherever we pleased. You could have it in the verandah of the beautiful Goan villa, in the garden or on the dining table!

The breakfast spread includes a vast variety of eggs to order, that’s served with hashbrown, brown bread, sausages and grilled tomoto; Indian delicacies and a variety of teas, coffees and juices. They even have  vast selection of pastries to choose from and all of it is so delicious. A good breakfast indeed is the start to a good day, and the folks at Taj Holiday Village makes sure you are having a good one!

Breakfast day 2: Eggs, sausage, pastries, watermelon juice and coffee

Breakfast day 3: Eggs, sausage, waffles with maple syrup, pastries and juice

Lunch at Taj Holiday Village

For lunch, you could pick from their restaurants – Caravela, Banyan Tree and Beach House. Every restaurant is distinct in terms of the setting, decor and cuisine that they serve. While Caravela is a multi-cuisine restaurant, the Beach House is a Goan speciality and Banyan Tree is their Oriental restaurant. Here’s where we headed:

Lunch Day 1: A lavish continental meal at Caravela

Caravela boasts of a diverse menu with spotlight on classic comfort food from all parts of the world. In addition to their ala carte menu, they have a fine buffet spread during season. Elegant interiors, a cozy deck and interactive kitchens in this boat shaped restaurant keeps the mood exciting. I specifically loved the deck and spent almost all my time in the evenings there. However, for lunch, I sat indoors at a spot that offered a breathtaking view of the sea.

To begin with, we opted for some cooling mocktails. The Village Kick and Temptations – with a predominantly fruity flavour were refreshing and initiated a great start for our meal. Both the mocktails were unique; the Village Kick comprising of watermelon juice, litchi crush, lime juice, mint and tobacco, and Temptations being a concoction of orange, lime, mint, cranberry juice and redbull.

We were spoilt for choice with the food menu and went in for a Grilled Chicken Breast and Mixed Seafood Platter. Seafood is a must while dining by the beach, and we weren’t wrong. Fish, squid and prawn nicely cooked in butter garlic sauce were served with buttered veggies and salad. I loved how the seafood was fresh, flavourful and done just right.

The grilled chicken breast – is one of their signatures, and I knew why when I dug into it. Chicken stuffed with mushroom and sundried tomato, served with potato puree, asparagus and broccoli, drizzled with demi glaze. I absolutely loved it – the chicken, nice and succulent and the sides as delicious as ever! Take me back for more.

Their desserts seemed interesting and we asked for a Strawberry Panacotta and Creme Caramel. Interestingly, though deliciously sweet, the panacotta is diabetic friendly, how cool? The Creme Caramel was one of the best I’ve had lately! Overall, a great way to end a fabulous meal at the beachside restaurant.

Lunch Day 2: Immersive Thai experience at Banyan Tree

Let me admit – this was my first time trying authentic Thai food and I was super excited. Well, I’ve tried some basic stuff like the Thai green curry at Pan-Asian restaurants, but this one would be a different experience. And the folks at Banyan Tree lived up to my expectations.

The restaurant in itself, is very quaint, though located right across the bustling Candolim road, within the property itself. Unlike the other restaurants by the beach, this one’s very close to the entrance and is canopied with a large banyan tree – thus the name. The entire area is covered in foliage and a surrounded by a lawn and coconut groove, making it a cool place for lunch. They have an indoor sitting area too, but we chose to sit in the verandah.

While the mocktail menu was the same as Caravela, the presentation was different and we opted for two refreshing mocktails this time too. Like every Orinetal restaurant I’ve been to, they serve the complimentary appetizer plate, which is quite pleasing. While we munched on it and sipped on our drinks, we couldn’t really figure what to order off the menu which had names I’ve never really heard before. So out of instinct, we ordered a few things!

And, there came the best crab of the my life. No kidding here, the best soft shell crab I’ve ever eaten came in the form of Poo Phad Krapaw. The soft shelled crab deep fried with spicy basil sauce, was mind blowing. I was told that the restaurant uses local ingredients from their own herb garden, which I believe makes all of their food so enticing.

Next up we tried the Red Snapper in sweet chilli garlic sauce, which was succulent, and the flavours were a delight to the tastebuds. We also decided to try something from their Teppanyaki Grill and opted for chicken in sweet teriyaki sauce – which was tender and flavourful.

The Thai green curry and jasmine rice was such a comforting meal, that I still can’t get over how good it was. I absolutely loved all the food at Banyan Tree and would recommend you drop by if you’re craving for some Thai food. The presentation isn’t so great, but the food tastes amazing!

Their desserts were as interesting as their food. The Khao Mao Thod – batter fried banana fritters served with honey and ice cream were yummy. The crunch of the banana wonderfully complementing the creamy ice cream and the honey adding natural sweetness to this brilliantly crafted dessert.

Just a while ago I said the presentation of the food here isn’t so great. But I took my words back when the Tub Tim Grob was presented to me – complete in a tender coconut shell. It’s essentially water chestnut in coconut syrup – which was quite an adventurous and unique dessert I’d say. I’ve had water chestnuts in food, but it was my first in dessert and I was impressed! Such a great experience this meal was.

The luxurious high-tea at Taj Holiday Village

Like every other Taj property, this one has the luxurious afternoon tea ritual. Resting on a cozy little space on the deck and watching the lights in the horizon flicker, as you soak in the vibe and sip on your tea. It’s a truly blissful experience despite the bustling beach right below. Everything about this place is so surreal and pretty – right from the way the cutlery is placed to the way the snacks are served.

The three-tier serving tray was laid with an eclectic mix of hot Indian and Goan snacks – all served in the right proportions. Look at how cute the mini samosas look, or my favourite canapés. The top was laid with the finest pastries made in house by their chefs, in addition to some Indian sweets as well. I sipped on my favourite chamomile tea and indulged in the feast, traversing into a different land.

Unwinding at the bar while at Taj Holiday Village

The Drift Bar at Caravela comes alive as the sun sets and converts into a hip lounge where you could sip on some of the choicest drinks and let loose as you unwind and get in the party mode. A dramatic setting right by the beach and an eclectic tapas menu to go with your drinks, and music that is relaxing – the perfect way to spend the late evening.

We indulged in a rich mazzet platter that came with fluffy pita bread and delicious hummus, among other things. We washed it down with a Choco Mint Blush – a perfect blend of chocolate, litchi, mint, blue curacao with vanilla ice cream. The Caesar Makes Sense – a creamy yet fruity, orange flavoured drink was yummy with hints of orange, grenadine and vanilla ice cream.

Dinner at Taj Holiday Village

All the three restaurants are open for dinner as well and you can pick one depending on your choice of cuisine. While the beach view isn’t visible in the night, the restaurants are lit and converts into a twinkling divine space, perfect to enjoy a nice meal.

Dinner day 1: An authentic Goan spread at the Beach House

I was quite thrilled to be able to try the food at the Beach House, because the menu is crafted by the legendary chef Rego himself. What you can expect? Lots of Goan food, considering it’s their Goan speciality restaurant. From basic home style food, to the more sophisticated Goan-Portuguese delicacies, the Beach House has so much to offer.

The table was so neatly decorated and looked every bit of a fairytale. We were recommended the cafreal and we did ask for the Galinha Cafreal. The chicken was well seasoned with local masalas and cooked to perfection. It was so different from the cafreal I’ve tried, but it was every bit of awesome.

We tried another one of Chef Rego’s signature’s – Grande Camarao Com Cilantro. It’s essentially tiger prawn marinated, grilled and tossed in fresh coriander masala served with spinach and cashew nut fogath. It was scrumptious comfort food for any Goan!

The desserts were again very ‘Goan’, with a slight twist. The Goan caramel pudding was given a boozy twist in the form of the Caramel Porto – baked coconut milk custard with port wine. The Bebinca was next on the list, made the right amount of sweet and served with homemade coconut ice cream – a perfect combo! The desserts were definitely the show stealers and left us wanting for more.

Dinner day 2: A scrumptious dinner at Caravela

After coming here for lunch and tea, it was time for our last dinner at Caravela – a place we had gotten so used to, but had to bid a goodbye to, since our brief staycation was coming to an end the next day. We had a special dinner that night – with a private table being reserved for us right by the seaside –  on the deck, which was my favourite place! The table, adorned with flowers was a perfect date night setting, and the cool breeze, sound of the waves hitting the shore and the twinkling stars above made it so romantic.

The last dinner was as good as it could get, with the most perfect – soft and juicy lamb chops served with garlic scented mashed potato, mushroom, green beans and red wine jus. The grilled lobster served with green bean mash and potato could be any sea food lover’s dream. It was fresh, well done and tasted great! The dessert comprised of a scrumptious Malai Kulfi and Dark Chocolate Mousse.

I personally loved all the dessert and food and would recommend it to anyone who visits. Having tried all the restaurants at Taj Holiday Village, I am convinced that they are amongst the finest in Goa with preference given to the smallest details and the quality of the ingredients used, which makes the meals so perfect. Also, everything from the interiors and the decor of the restaurants to the table setting to the service is what adds to the entire experience. The staff is so welcoming and friendly and makes sure you have a great time.

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