Wish you were here: Infantaria, Baga

After thinking quite a bit I’ve realised that I should start with Infanteria if I am going to write about Goan restaurants.

Infanteria is without doubt our favourite restaurant there.

We first went to Infantaria when we went there for the wife’s birthday (in 2004 I think). Her birthday is on 22nd August. August is off season at Goa. Most places were shut, it was raining and Baga (the area we go to) seemed like a Ghost town.

We’d landed at a fairly disappointing property called Paradise Village at Calangute. We went out in search of lunch after the wife fretted over the rooms and the loo. We were walking around aimlessly in the Calangute market when someone directed us to Infantaria.

It was love at first bite. They serve really good Goan food and other stuff as well (conti, North Indian). The prices are quite reasonable. The service is typically Goan, sweet, friendly and bumbling.

We love their chilly fries, especially pork and mussels. Interestingly, everyone seems to have their own take on “Goan chilly fry’. The one at Brittos is slightly sweeter. While the one at Love Shack has an odd mix of haldi, curry leaves AND a Chinesey after taste. It is difficult to describe the Infanteria one except by saying it’s tasty.

The wife likes their pork vindaloo while I am more of a Sorpatel person. We love their roasted ox tongue. The meat is extremely succulent and it is roasted in a well flavoured Goan sauce/ gravy. We discovered prawn Balchao during our visit last February – big juicy prawns, in a thick sweet and sourish thick gravy. Really mouth watering. I have tried the Goan sausage fried rice a couple of time. It is different and interesting though I find Goan sausages a bit too sour for my taste.

Breakfast at Infantaria is very nice. The wife goes straight for the ‘English’ sausages while I like their banana and chocolate pancakes. This time I had an egg white omelette and a very soft croissant. I also had something called 'Berry Blast' which was very refreshing and not overly sweet as slushes tend to be.

They make a very nice beef burger. The wife's ex boss, a Goa addict herself, had recommended it. It's very tasty and juicy. This time I tried a chicken burger for health reasons. But their heart wasn't in it and it was dry and stale. I promptly had a beef burger the next day to get over the chicken one.

Drinks are very cheap. A peg of Old Monk or Smirnoff ranges between 30-40 Rs.

They started a Cappuccino corner from last year. This year it was manned by an interesting person whom I’ll refer to as Maguire after his idol, Jerry Maguire. After trying his things at various things such as bar tending (he made a great Long Island Ice Tea for me and said the secret was to not add gin as it doesn't mix well with tequila), internet portals, stocks he was now learning how to make coffee.
The wife loves the coffee here and felt it had a distinctive (vanilla'ish) taste compared to the coffee in coffee shop chains. The coffee came with a smiley too. He has big dreams and ideas by the dozen. This time we used to sit at the table by the coffee bar and he would keep us entertained by chatting with us through dinner from his corner. And boy, is he a character or not. Once, when he got us the tab, and we left a tip, he took the cover, gave it to his boss and said 'keep the change'!

We got Bebenca from Infantaria for folks at office and they seemed to like it. You can make out the freshness versus the packages one sold at shops. Incidentally, Infanteaia had initially started as a dessert place. This time we discovered a yummy chocolate cake called Chocolate Supremo. It was nice and soft and fresh with a layer of marzipan within the chocolate sponge base. The wife and I brought in our birthday in the hotel room with a slice of it.

I can’t wait to get back. In fact Infantaria is one of the biggest reasons because of which I keep going back to Goa