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12.06.2018

You can tell the folks behind House of Lloyd are from Goa. Not because of their evident love of azulejo tiles, Mario Miranda artwork, or rechado masala, but simply because of how spacious the restaurant feels, especially the terrace area. The ceilings are high, the sides are open, and there’s enough room to comfortably stroll between tables. It’s a rare pleasure in a city like Mumbai, where real estate prices are sky-high, and rarer still in a neighbourhood like Juhu – the sort of design call that only someone who grew up with open spaces would even consider.

Which brings us to the story of House of Lloyd. It began as a garage restaurant in Goa in the mid-1990s, run by Celia Braganza and her son Lloyd. She made the curries, he manned the barbecue and together, they created a place known for its warmth, pork chops, and sorpotel. A few years later, the family took over a sprawling Portuguese home in Candolim and “House of Lloyd” was born. Their new branch on Juhu Tara Road doesn’t occupy an entire home, but it does have the sizeable square footage of the first floor of Hotel Royal Garden. This one’s run by Lloyd and his wife, Nerissa.

It’s pretty too, with its cobblestone floors, cane furniture, and potted plants. Lamps bathe diners in light the colour of warm honey. Elvis croons about the highs and lows of Burnin’ Love. And ever so often, a whiff of vinegar fills the air, bringing back memories of choris by the beach. Indoors, there are bright yellow walls, murals in the style of Mario Miranda, and adorable photos of the Lloyd family hung on the walls. It feels grown-up, somewhat posh, but still mostly old-school.

This sentiment is echoed in the food menu, which lists classics like sausage chilli fry, Grandma Ermina’s Beef Roulade and Mama Celia’s sorpotel, alongside Goan street favourites like potato chops, ros omelette (strips of omelette soaked in gravy or “ras”) and rissois (a savoury karanji of sorts, traditionally stuffed with small prawns). There are a few contemporary numbers too: sweet potato gnocchi with rechado butter, pork sausage pate, and arancini flavoured with Bafad masala. And there’s seafood, served grilled or fried, or curried. We were hoping to see some lesser-known (and very delicious) fish like the lepo, mandeli, and chonak that are ubiquitous in Goa’s fish thali restaurants, but alas, the only seafood listed was mackerel, pomfret, and lobster, and crab.

Eager to dig in, we started our meal with the Aamsol martini, a strawberry and chocolate margarita, and bowls of choris fry, potato gnocchi, and Sungta Solache, described as local river prawns cooked with kokum and prepared by the fisher community of St. Estevan. The flavours at House of Lloyd, we quickly learned, are unabashedly bold. Our choris for instance, was so spicy and high on vinegar, we couldn’t finish more than half the portion (sizes are also generous). The sungta was far nicer: a flavourful broth of coriander, kokum, and red chillies, but the prawns were overcooked, a tad chewy, and entirely lacking in that sweet shellfish flavour that make river prawns so special. Surprisingly, it was the gnocchi that saved the day. It wasn’t as delicate as we thought it might be – more like potato cakes with a lashing of rechado gravy –but the contrast of the sweet potato with the chilli of the rechado works well.

The mains fared better. The Goan fish curry hit all the right notes, flavour-wise, but the fish was overcooked again. Thankfully, we had the kelfool melgur to distract us: a strifry of banana flower, tendli, coconut, and black channa that I would gladly eat again with a serving of steamed rice and a spoonful of ghee. Notably, Lloyds’ menu has a large and interesting vegetarian section, with not a piece of paneer in sight.

The highlight of the evening was the dish with no connection whatsoever to Goa: the beef steak. It was rare (rather than medium-rare as we requested) but beautifully cooked with a caramelised crust, soft pink flesh within, and a light peppery jus. Served with a bed of crunchy veggies and creamy mash, it was everything a good steak should be, and the chief reason we might return for dinner if we’re in the neighbourhood.

Next time, we’ll stick with beer (the cocktails were all pretty disappointing), get ourselves a steak dinner, and round off the meal with Nerissa’s Famous Bread Pudding, loaded with rum-soaked raisins and served with a bowl of warm vanilla custard. It’s the sort of homely, comforting dessert that fills the heart with warmth and the air with the scent of Christmas. And should we still feel heavy of heart, we might cross the road for a walk along Juhu Beach, maybe even look up flight tickets to Goa.

Getting there: Hotel Royal Garden, First Floor, Above Grandma’s Café, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu. Meal for two, with drinks, approx. Rs 2,000.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

Neha Sumitran is a food and travel writer who loves cooking, exploring markets and foraging for new ingredients. She hopes to have a farm near the mountains someday. She tweets and instagrams as @nehasumitran.

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