This new restaurant in CP is bringing Goa vibes to Delhi
With its trippy interiors, make-believe beach and heavenly food, AD Singh's Lady Baga recreates the famed Goan beach shack.
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Is Connaught Place condemned to be the watering hole of young adults (the polite term for teeny-boppers and their grown-up variants) fishing for cheap booze and easy entertainment? As I sat down at Lady Baga, which replaces Monkey Bar on the Outer Circle of Connaught Place, with AD Singh, the restaurant’s creator, this chilling thought crossed my mind.
And it turned into Arctic ice when I learned from AD, best known as the progenitor of a slew of successful brands starting with Olive Bar & Kitchen, that he had set for himself the target of lifting the number of his restaurants from 30 at present to 100 in 2022.
I believe accelerated growth is the enemy of food quality and service because both are so dependent on human talent and warmth. It is impossible to clone — even with SOPs and recipe banks — a chef who’s responsible for a restaurant’s reputation. And the more talented he or she is, the greater the challenge it becomes for the company that employs him.
Fortunately for us, AD is The Last of the Mohicans — he believes in the supremacy of no-nonsense food, the ability of alcohol to lend itself to sensible experimentation, and the importance of getting the music right. With its trippy interiors and the look of Goa of the ‘70s (that is, Goa before Delhi’s fat-cats brought Lajpat Nagar to the Konkan Coast), with its own make-believe beach and the sea coming alive in a silent film projected on the walls, Lady Baga recreates the vibe of the famed Goan beach shack in every respect but one — its servers are in no hurry to rush your order and see you’re out in 45 minutes. And Lady Baga’s menu too replicates what’s typically on offer at any one of these establishments.Lady Baga. (Picture: Lagy Baga/Instagram)
AD is no stranger to Goan food — he has run Soul Fry at Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai, for the past 18 years with Meldon Da Cunha — so the fiery-red recheado is as good as you get it "back home" (and in the semolina-crusted bangda—Indian mackerel — it is served with just the right consistency); the Pork Vindaloo delicately balances the sour with the hot; the Goan Prawn Curry is not overpowered by the coconut (though I wish it was accompanied by red rice); and the Chourico/Choris Pulao made with the smoky, spicy and sun-dried Goan pork sausages is a conversation-stopper.
The meal gets heavenlier when you wash it down with Chourico Mary — cashew-infused vodka (I can have gallons of it neat!) mixed with chourico-infused tomato juice. The oddities — though I am not complaining — are the Bombil Fry (which is a Malvani speciality, not Goan) and Prawn Lonche, which is borrowed from the repertoire of the Pathare Prabhus (the original settlers of Mumbai who came with the Portuguese), who call it Kolambiche Lonche.
A beach shack, though, doesn’t necessarily fly the banner of a particular cuisine. It welcomes all that is comforting to the soul. Check out, for instance, the menu of Britto’s, on Baga beach, and you’ll know what I mean — it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
The Chicken Burger at Lady Baga therefore comes as no surprise, nor does the Yellow Submarine (home-style potato fries served with three sauces). You can also order omelettes, sandwiches and banana milk shake. The crowning glory in this department, of course, is the Banana French Toast topped up with peanut butter mousse and scoop of ice-cream, drizzled with caramel sauce. Just this one is enough to quell your hunger pangs.
Lady Baga has all the elements that make AD’s restaurants the talk of the town — Woodstock chic, a whiff of Goan susagade (laid-back lifestyle), food that is flavourful and comforting, and a vibe that makes you want to go back.
Go there if you wish to have fun with friends, or just re-bond with each other after you have become empty nesters. It will bring back memories of The Cellar, which was once "the haunt" across the road in the Regal building, in the days when a "fag" meant a cigarette and "groovy" was the in-word.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)