Get up, get Goan: Antoine Lewis reviews new restaurant O Pedro
The home-style food is more misses than hits. Goans are unlikely to return, but affordable prices and ‘good-enough’ appeal could win over its captive office-goer clientele.mumbai Updated: Dec 23, 2017 15:36 IST
- RATING: 3 / 5
- WHERE: Jet Airways Godrej Building, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex
- WHEN: Noon to 1 am
- COST: Rs 3,000 for a meal for two with one drink each
- CALL: 26534700/01/02
O Pedro is nothing like its sibling, The Bombay Canteen. Where The Bombay Canteen is irreverent, bold and witty, O Pedro is pious, conservative and well, a little boring.
There’s a touch of the playfulness in the poie basket which, in keeping with contemporary American dining, is charged for. Order either the two vegetarian or meat-flavoured butters or all four. The masala-heavy vegetarian balchao and choriz butters worked well, but the rosemary-flavoured pork fat and the cheesy black pepper were too lightly flavoured.
O Pedro is part of Mumbai’s Goan food renaissance – there are two more new Goan-Portuguese restaurants, one has already opened; the other is being launched early next year. This marks a decisive break from previous Hindu and Catholic Goan working-class eateries. The new breed is for the urban elite and for the Indian tourist who wants to relive the ‘Goa experience’ in Mumbai, or Delhi.
O Pedro is a lovely space. Vaulted ceilings, an imposing wooden bar, dark wood tables and cane-backed chairs give it an old-world club look. During the day natural light floods the room, in the evening yellow light makes it cosy and warm.
We skip the quarter plates for the half-plates and cocktails. The Cashew In Spirit is refreshing. Topped with a dried lemon slice, sweet feni-like aromas of cashew dominate, while the kokum-infused rum gives it a pleasant tanginess.
My companion, a Fernandes, objects to the use of the Spanish ‘z’ in Mrs Fernandez’s Fancy Drink. The more pressing problem, however, is that with the first few sips, you’re hit by the harshness of the alcohol, and when the ice melts, it turns bitter and salty.
The home-style food is more misses than hits. We could only taste the fat in the tongue prosciutto, which is also overwhelmed by the tartness of the mayonnaise topping.
Though the Lisbon tempura, crisp batter-fried vegetables, are greasy and tasteless, there’s an endearing playfulness to the name. The popular Japanese snack tempura is believed to be based on the Portuguese tempora, batter-fried vegetables eaten on fasting days. The Portuguese in turn are believed to have learnt the technique of batter frying vegetables from India.
We loved the plump and juicy smoked ribs vinda-loo, but the sweetish brown sauce has neither the tang nor the bite of a vindaloo.
Every Goan Catholic home has their version of a choriz pulao, and O Pedro’s version suffers not on account of flavour, but because of the hard cubes of bacon. It might work better with just pieces of pork.
With its thick, ungainly layers and discernibly lacking the taste of coconut or egg, the bebinca is disappointing. Aunty Li must have been a damn fine cook, for the serradura credited to her is light and fluffy, with a hint of sweetness. Orange segments add a touch of brightness.
O Pedro will do well. Goans are unlikely to return, but it’s a great setting, affordably priced and the food is good enough to appeal to its captive office clientele.
(HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals)