Porto & Poie Brings A Slice of Goa To Juhu
Right in the heart of Mumbai’s bayside, Porto and Poie is here to make Juhu more enticing than it already is. Bringing in Goan and Portuguese cuisine into this city based on his childhood experiences and travel experiences, Chef Gracian De Souza has much to offer.
Blue and white Portuguese tiles lead you into the restaurant that is open and airy letting you peek into the ocean across the road amidst buildings and palms. Compartmentalized into a Goan style porch, complimented with stone benches, an island bar which then opens into the al fresco seating area, plays with the same vibrant Goan Portuguese theme throughout. Once you are inside, you notice the pale walls adorned by gorgeous blue and white Portuguese porcelain plates alongside the stone arched windows. This décor is complimented by Goan photographer Vince Costa’s redolent black and white photography, giving off a strong indication towards the permutation of the Goan and Portugal atmosphere created by the restaurant.
Once seated, we were given a menu that was committed towards giving us an experience based on flavors the chef has been brought up on collaborated with experiences through travel and work. We started off with the small plates, accompanied by ‘ginjinha’, a sour cherry liquor which kick started the evening quite appropriately. The semolina laced beef croquettes were appetizing, the mince was deliciously pasty and the sauce added a zest which was refreshing. Gracian has taken care to give us sides which would vary from just another mayonnaise or tartare. “I didn’t want to just serve the croquettes with what you would usually eat elsewhere. The sauce has been something I’ve grown up eating and I wanted to incorporate it in this menu too”, says the man who has also been behind the set-up of kitchens of restaurants like Woodside Inn, Su Casa and Gradmama’s Café. The Chicken Cafreal resting on a bed of sweet potato, the semolina crispy masala Bombay Duck, the classic Goan Chourico pav made appearances, with the Chorizo Pav leaving the strongest mark. We thought that the Bombay Duck was on the soggy side, not really living up to the crispiness the name promised. However, what really hit home was the 48 hour marinated tongue which was beautifully highlighted with simple flavors of lime, coriander garlic and olive oil; dish that was truly a labor of love. We also had the Goan Style Chicken Samosas, however, the pastry could have been crispier. The Portuguese style hand folded prawn rissois were flavored tarts stuffed with shrimp, not really something we can take home though.
Sipping on a Goan Tiki from the ‘Storied Cocktails’ which was chosen from a list of inventive cocktails, each one owing its name to a story from which it has been derived, we then moved on to the large plates. Here, we ordered the much craved for Pork Vindaloo served with warm Poie. A well cooked pork belly that melts on the palette with as much enthusiasm as it devoured. A dish that ticks off the fiery, hot boxes accentuated with the vinegar is a dish that one shall be returning for. Vegetarians, there are dishes available that will not cease to appease. The Saraswat Style Mushroom and Waterchesnut Xacuti competed well with the hand pounded mutton Xacuti. However, seafood lovers, the Arroz de Marisco with seafood and dill butter is a must call for. The Chef only sources his ingredients from Goa, hence the red rice from Goa provides a comfortable accolade to the generously buttered seafood consisting of squid, prawns, mussels and fish, which is like the Portuguese version of a paella.
We missed the good old sweet end, but the menu does ensure that we shall return to try more. Porto and Poie gives you the quintessential flavors of Goa from the traditional view and has the amalgamation of the Portuguese vibe as well. Flavors of Goa are transpired through the vinegar made from the toddy in Goa, chorizo, the cashew bitters, jaggery and spices brought in, giving the touch of authenticity that is much appreciated by otherwise fusion-ised palette.
Porto and Poie is open to all for cocktails and dinner post 6pm initially above The Royal Garden Hotel, Juhu Tara Road. The breeziness, the balcony like atmosphere will transport you into old Portuguese homes of Goa with the menu the offers the aromas of the piquant Goan flavors.
Written by Sama Ankolkar.