You never expect anything great from the restaurants dotting the busy Calangute-Baga road. However, I was surprised, rather thrilled to find a gem right amidst the chaos in Baga – Phat Cat Cocktail Bar & Lounge. As opposed to the number of shacks and nightclubs lining the stretch, Phat Cat is a breath of fresh air where the focus is more on the drinks and food, instead of parties. Having said that, they do have events during the season, but they comprise of acts by live bands and the like. On the other days, you have soothing soft rock adding to the ambience.
Phat Cat offers indoor as well as outdoor sitting and an arty little rooftop space. Though it’s located right across the main road, it has a great vibe owning to the canopy of trees that covers and surrounds it. The cane chairs is what gives the restaurant a very beach-shack sort of appearance. This is one place, off the beach, where you can indulge in some good food and drinks, and at the same time, soak in some not-so-intense summer sun.
The bar is known to pour the best concoctions, most of which are curated and created by one of the owners, Suhail, who is a mixologist with several years of experience behind him. He has tried to infuse a lot of Goan flavours and also tried to reinvent the classics. Though they serve the regular cocktails as well, the list of special cocktails is the highlight.
We happened to try two, besides their white wine sangria. The white wine sangria – the right amount of sweet, was made to perfection. He even told us the four ingredients to make the perfect sangria, but I am sure we can never manage to do it the way he does. Mixology requires expertise, which normal people like you and I lack. So, it’s better to head to Phat Cat every time you want to have the best sangria.
From among the two cocktails we tried from their menu, I liked both. Both have a bit of Goan inspiration. One incorporated coconut water – the one element synonymous with Goa and the second one included feni – well, what can I say, another important local drink in Goa. The Mojo Jojo – a vodka and gin based cocktail had hints of passion fruit and lemon, besides coconut water. The Maid in Goa, a Cucumber Mint Daiquiri – a rum based cocktail, comprised of cucumber, mint, lime, sugar and hints of feni.
The food menu is vast, which I am sure is created considering the location which is frequented by all sorts of tourists and locals alike. They have everything from salads and sandwiches, to pizzas and burgers. While they do not serve authentic Goan food, they do offer some for someone looking for a bit of Goan taste to their food. For example, they have a Cafreal Chicken Sizzler. The preparation style is so popular in chicken, and having a sizzler made in the marinade can be a great experience.
They also have a tandoor and a wood fire oven, hence it’s obvious that they serve grills – meat, seafood and veg and also thin crust pizzas. They do seafood in almost every preparation, like most Goan restaurants along the coastal areas do. They also have a bit of Continental, Pan Asian and Indian cuisine as well. The food menu again, is created by the owners themselves and there aren’t any ‘chefs’ in the kitchen. We were pretty surprised by the quality of food we received.
We started with Garlic Bread – a homemade baguette bread smeared with cheese and garlic, made in their bread oven. The Prawn Tempura soon followed. The classic Asian dish was well-made with prawns coated in ultra-light batter, which made for a crunchy snack, perfect to nibble on as we sipped our drinks.
For the mains, we picked a steak and a sizzler. The Peri Peri Chicken Sizzler – scrumptious chicken cooked in peri peri sauce, served with rice, exotic veggies and crispy fries.
The Phat Cat’s special Tenderloin Steak consisted of a lipsmackingly delicious fillet of grilled tenderloin steak in mushroom sauce, served with mashed potatoes and exotic sautéed veggies. Though there are many restaurants serving steaks and sizzlers in Goa, the folks at Phat Cat nail it. Everything we ate was wholesome and flavourful. Combine it with excellent service and chilled out ambiance, that’s enough to make your meal a memorable one.
We ended our lunch with the Sizzling Brownie, which was more like the showstopper – a warm and fudgy chocolate brownie served over a thin slice of green apple on a sizzler plate, topped with premium vanilla ice cream and flambéed with liqueur. I loved the burst of flavours the green apple added to the crumbly chocolate brownie.