Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Whether it’s the food, the music or the ambience, O Pedro brings Goa to Mumbai.
Words by Rini Mukkath and Siddharth Srivastava
Photo courtesy: O Pedro
It was a quiet Tuesday night, as we entered O Pedro, Mumbai’s latest culinary offering and a celebration of the resurgence of modern Goan cuisine. The restaurant is nestled between other favourites like Hello Guppy, Gateway Taproom, and Toast & Tonic in the Jet Airways-Godrej building, a newly emerged dining hotspot in BKC.
The long French windows are covered with delicate white curtains and the floral, but demure, signage is in keeping with an authentic and intimate Goan dining experience. The cane chairs, simple crockery, wonderfully vintage bar and cabinets, alongside warm lighting and high ceilings create the ambience of a relaxed drawing-room in a villa and hark back to the multi-layered colonial past of this fusion Lusophone cuisine.
As does the daily baked sourdough poee, which when served with chorizo butter (the astonishingly flavourful condiment of choice), alongside a fresh seafood bar evokes a nostalgia-filled old Goa with a modern twist.
We realise that our formative memories of the coastal state, the most frequented beach destination in the sub-continent, are more warm than wild. On family vacations, we feasted on chorizo pulao, vindaloo and seafood doused in coconut gravy and laced with the sour taste of kokum. Trips since have never quite matched up in terms of the food experience. The menu at O Pedro is an ode to the old Goa - beyond the shacks, the nightclubs and the music festivals.
Perfectly summed by Chef Hussain, “We want to take the people of this bustling city to (old) Goa through O Pedro. The idea is to feel like you are on a mini-vacation”.
The restaurant comes from the same team (Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage) that put together the experimental Bombay Canteen. Indian-American chef, Floyd Cardoz, serves as culinary director along with the executive chef, Hussain Shahzad and, together, they bring a robust fare filled with flavour and history. The menu is split into quarter-, half- and full-plate portions to allow diners to enjoy a fun tapas-style experience.
We started off with a Mushroom Pate, made with black pepper roasted mushrooms and brown butter; and a sweet and sour Bangda Parra made with sautéed onions, pan-fried mackerel, coriander and tomato. Matched with light, flaky, toasted bread, these quarter-plate portions are an unexpected delight and surprisingly easy on the pocket.
We paired these with Kalchi Kodi, devilled eggs filled with leftover coconut curry, a tradition in most Goan homes. A half plate red snapper poke stood out as the highlight of our meal. Lathered generously with a chilled coconut milk curry, the dish was lifted by a chilli and raw mango seasoning and a rich crunch of texture in the form of puffed rice. Served in a coconut shell, the fish is cured with lemon juice and is highly reminiscent of the Red Snapper Ceviche, its Latin American counterpart, served at O Pedro’s sister restaurant, Bombay Canteen.
Our favourite main was Beryl's Fish Curry, a dish drawn from the chef’s family recipes and a treat for any lover of spicy fish curry. The concoction consists of fresh snapper cooked in a dried mango and kokum coconut curry, slowly soaking into soft Goan rice, and appears to be the perfect repast for a hot afternoon, especially when paired with a cold brew.
We also tried the Lamb Shank Shacuti, a beautiful leg of lamb, slow-braised and spiced with star anise and ginger. However, the dish would have been perfect with more heat and less mace. The Margao chorizo and bacon pulao is noteworthy for the rich flavour of chorizo and delicate balance with a simple tomato and cucumber salad. While we were too full to sample traditional staples such as the Vindaloo, Sorpotel and Rawa fried fish, we strongly recommend that diners give these a shot.
To end our meal with a dash of sweetness, we nibbled at the traditional Bebinca (we understand every Goan family has a unique recipe for this), which was truly delectable. At O Pedro, it is made with their own cashew brittle, Goan jaggery caramel and served with a roasted cashew ice cream. The Lisboa Pastel de nata or warm egg custard tarts and the Portuguese doughnuts also made for interesting dessert choices.
Since we made the mistake of visiting on a dry day, we did not get a chance to sample the alcohol menu. However, we did notice the warm glow of the beautiful vintage bar – patrons and staff alike leave behind memorabilia tacked to the top as an affectionate gesture, which sums up the ambience at O Pedro rather nicely. With an island-inspired take on retro pop music, Portuguese-inspired curios and villa-style interiors alongside an exceptional menu, O Pedro is a relaxing culinary escape to old Goa that may just be what the often harangued residents of our bustling city need.