The restaurant has been opened for over half a decade now, 7 years to be precise. It is owned and managed by brothers Cassy and Larry Martins. The restaurant is conveniently located near the municipal garden, just as you enter the heart of Margao. Although parking may be a slight problem, once you dine at Martin’s you certainly won’t mind taking a round or two to find your spot the next time you dine at the restaurant. Such is the quality of food at Martins. The restaurant has a wide range of dishes from different kind of cuisines on their menu, they also served tapas along with some great cocktails. The star of the show, however, was their steak on stone, which luckily, was so popular that they decided to keep it on their new and improved menu. Cassy decided that it was time to shuffle up the menu. He intends to add a couple of Portuguese and Korean dishes along with a few local dishes to add some depth to the menu and take away the heat that the Steak on Stone brings to the menu, literally.
Fortunately, I was one of the first in Goa to sample some of the new dishes on their menu which included the much talked about Kerala Polichattu Pomfret, which initially started as a trial a few weeks ago, but is now creating quite the hype at the restaurant and selling out every single day. I started my meal, however, with a few starters, beginning with the Korean Spicy Chicken Wings. A bright red, crunchy and sticky plate of chicken wings topped with sesame seeds. The chicken wings were very reminiscent of a certain Buffalo Wings I used to have many years ago in Abu Dhabi at a place called Chilis, one bite was enough to take my mind back in time. The Korean Wings were crunchy yet so sticky and full flavor, I do love myself a couple of crunchy wings. It had a very tangy taste to it, with a strong hint of a taste similar to that of Tobasco sauce, the wings were made with an imported Korean Gochujang paste.
Next up was a Goan classic and local favorite, the famous Rissois de Camarao, or locally known as Prawn Rissois. A much-loved snack across Goa that was handed down to us by the Portuguese, the Prawn Rissois at Martins, were definitely something that deserved praise, even if solely for the fact that it was the crispiest Rissois I’ve ever had in my life. The fact that there was this crunch to every bite you take followed by a very creamy filling of prawns that also contained a bit of cheese to give that slight variation in flavor, definitely makes this one of the best Rissois I’ve ever had, certainly not your usual plate of snacks.
The final dish among the 3 starters I sampled was the Prawns Mozambique. I was due to taste the Prawns in Haldi leaves which I’m told is one of their specials, unfortunately, I visited at a time when the Haldi leaves were not available from the local vendors as they are only at certain times and seasons. Nevertheless, I was presented with a plate full of prawns glistening in a lovely orangish sauce on a bed of spiced, grilled peppers. The prawns were grilled with the Mozambique marinade and had this light char on the edges, take a bit of the pepper marinade and lay it atop your prawn before you gorge down on them.
Finally, we move on to the main course, which we began with a literal punch of flavors, the Kerala Pomfret. Now growing up in Abu Dhabi, I have eaten a lot of authentic Keralite food, right from breakfast to dinner, the parathas to the beef fry and appams, you can find Malabar food is all over the UAE due to the large Keralite community living in the gulf, however in Goa, besides people from Kerala, very few people can pull of that same authentic taste that comes from the Keralite cuisine. This dish started as something that the restaurant wanted to serve up to a limited amount of customers just to seek a response, however according to Cassy, the Kerala Pomfret has been such a hit that they’ve sold close to 200 individual pieces of fish in the last 1 month since they started serving it up. The Pomfret came wrapped and tied in a banana leaf served with a side of salad and topped with crispy, batter-fried onion rings. The leaf was unwrapped to reveal a lovely, succulent piece of Pomfret that was topped with a bed of spices and herbs with the gravy dripping from the sides. Now I’m not a fish lover per se, I’m a bit picky when it comes to my fish, I don’t mind fish but then again, I don’t love it. Now this, was definitely an exception. The marination on this fish was absolutely exceptional! Anyone who’s eaten a lot of Keralite cuisine, heck, even a local from Kerala would commend the flavors in this fish. So many different flavors just soaked right into the fish, allows it to just melt in your mouth. The masala was definitely the star of this dish and I can definitely see why it has been selling like hot cakes, a perfect rendition of authentic flavors from God’s own country. The best part is the marinade is made entirely in-house by the Chef.
Next up was another main course dish featuring fish, this time, the red snapper, known locally as Tamuso. This Portuguese style Red Snapper drew its inspiration from a classic Jamie Oliver recipe back when he did a segment in Algarve, Portugal. The Peixe na Brasa with its simplicity in ingredients and complexity in flavors makes this red snapper served with roasted tomatoes and long beans with wedges of lime such a pleasant dish. Light, yet so moist and soaked with flavor. Salt, Pepper, Garlic, butter, lemon juice and herbs like thyme, oregano, basil were just about enough to create this simple beauty.
The Korean Bulogi is popular dish Asian dish that where Bul means fire and Gogi means meat. The dish features thinly sliced pieces of beef or pork grilled or barbecued in a Korean marinade. Cassy decided to serve me the pork version of the Korean Bulgogi, He also mentioned that it was the first time he was trying the dish in pork. The pork was rendered very well with a very thin layer of fat that was barely noticeable on the palate, the pork almost tasted like medium rare beef, it was that tender! The marinade which had soy sauce, pepper, garlic and sesame oil among other spices was packed with flavors, it was almost like a cross between the Korean chicken wings and the popular Japanese ‘Teriyaki’ marinade. The Bulgogi Pork was served with a mound of lightly flavored rice.
For the final main course dish, I decided to take on the famous, Steak on Stone. I also choose to go away from the traditional route of the beef steak and go for the chicken steak instead of the beef because the chicken is something I’m sure most readers would relate to. The steak is cooked on Volcanic stone in front of you, but the waiters encourage you to cook it yourself, guiding you away along the process which barely takes around 6-8 minutes depending on the meat and how you like it, of course, chicken would take around 4-5 minutes due to the heat of the stone. The slabs of volcanic stone are imported from Europe and have a very high heating capacity, for obvious reasons. The stones after being used have to be kept aside to cool down before being washed, otherwise, they would crack and break apart. The herb encrusted fillet of chicken is served with a side of mashed potato and french beans with a delectable barbecue, plum sauce that complements the chicken very well.
We ended the meal with what promised to be a mouthwatering finale of desserts. First up I was served the classic Goan Portuguese dessert, the Serradura. The dessert is a very popular one, especially here in Goa. The sawdust pudding as it translates to, features layers of cream and biscuit crumble to form a lovely creamy, frozen pudding.
The orange chocolate mousse was amazing, a very strong touch of what seemed like fresh orange complementing the velvety texture of the chocolate mousse, topped with a mint leaf, this dessert was one of the most fragrant mousses I’ve ever had. Orange and chocolate have for long been a combination from the heavens really, but the level to which this mouse was enhanced by the orange flavor was superb. This mousse didn’t have that light creamy and airy mousse texture, but a texture slightly similar to that of chocolate ganache.
The orange chocolate mousse was followed by a New York Cheesecake. A Key Lime New York Cheesecake to be specific. Now, I love my lemon cheesecake, out of all the possible combinations for a cheesecake, lime/lemon is my favorite of them all. The acidity and the zing of the lime coupled with that slightly cheesy-creamy taste is a duo I can tolerate anytime, any day. However, here in Goa a lot of places use artificial lime/lemon flavorings to save on cost and that’s something I hate. You look forward to having your favorite dish after you find it, only to realize that they’ve used artificial flavorings, what a downer. Anyway, no need to fret here, this is one has used 100% fresh key limes as the key ingredient, the cheesecake had the perfect consistency and flavor. Creamy, with that lovely tanginess from the key limes along with that biscuit base and a chocolate wafer.
On that sweet note, my meal came to an end. It was a great pleasure, trying out some of the new dishes on Martin’s new menu. Especially since they were from a host of different cuisines from places like Kerala, Korea, Portugal. Martin’s Restaurant will introduce these dishes and their new menu in the next week, so do drop by and give it a try, you surely won’t be disappointed,