Tucked away in the corner of Strand St. in Colaba, is this simple, unassuming restaurant with its modest look and refreshing charm. Almost untouched by any arrogant display of ‘décor’ and firmly refusing to drown in the cacophony of ‘trendy’ music, New Martin Hotel promises good quality Goan food, which is fresh, prepared to order and so cheap, you will feel like you are back in the 90s.
Run by Mr. Baptist D’souza, a Mangalorean, this restaurant is one of the few places in Mumbai which serves authentic Goan cuisines. The owner, we are told, took control over the restaurant in 1963 from a Goan family, and has managed to preserve the old recipe.
The menu is limited, and maybe not too much of a paradise for a vegetarian, but is any Non-Vegetarian’s dream. You get a variety of dishes made of mutton, fresh fish, prawns, chicken, eggs and even ‘buff’- if it is safer to use a euphemism. Items are made to order and the management keeps crossing off dishes they run out of, until there is nothing left or it’s time to close down.
At a mere 150 rupees stands their most expensive dish – ‘Steak, Onion & Chips’ and it is definitely worth the money. The steak we got was cloaked in a layer of fried onions, with the meat safely hidden under it, and garnished on the side with potato wedges. This was a more continental, high calorie meal, a step away from the ‘authentic’ Goan food that this place otherwise serves. The steak itself was juicy and succulent.
Things one MUST try at this restaurant – Mutton Cutlet, Pork Vindaloo and the Custard Jelly.
The Mutton Cutlet is soft, consistent and cooked through well, with mild Indian spices and potatoes. It goes down real easy and feels quite light and works great as an appetizer or an accompaniment with rice.
Pork Vindaloo was not as spicy as expected, which was good. The gravy was runny, you could see a layer of cooking oil on the surface – definitely not something you want to have if you are on a diet, but if taste is all that matters to you, this is as much a signature dish, a must-have on their menu as it can get.
And to finish off this high calorie, high voltage meal, try the humble Custard Jelly. The custard you get here is unlike the kind you get at most places. It reminded me of homemade custard, less firm, like something your mother would make at home– incredibly charming and homely in that way.
Total bill? Don’t even bother. It’s less than what you would pay for a slice of Cheesecake 10 meters down at Theobroma’s. The puzzling pricing of the menu led us into a conversation with a long-term loyal customer, Rigved Siriah. He says about the restaurant, “I have been coming here ever since my parents and I stumbled across it 13 years ago. We almost missed it, it’s not like it has neon signs or a presence like Leopold’s or Mondegar, but we are so glad we didn’t. The pricing here has always been like this, maybe it’s because there is no fancy China to replace, maybe because the restaurant doesn’t throw away food, who knows? The owner likes to keep his secrets close to his chest.”
Overall impressions of the place would be really positive. It may not be your place if you prefer the glossiness of a classy restaurant with great ambience or music. It may also not be your place if you are a vegetarian or obsess over calorie counts. But if you are looking for a small, humble place with oodles of old-school charm and a refreshing sort of nostalgic vibe, THIS is where you should find yourself content, with no holes in your pocket but probably a kilo or two heavier.