Bernardo’s, Supermart – I, Gurgaon

[Rating:5/5] [singlepic id=681 w=320 h=240 float=left]I’ve had this opinion for a while that 5-stars aren’t really the best places in town for good food. At best, I find most serve expensive, indifferent food with excellent service in a great ambiance. Most hotel restaurants therefore become places you take out of town visitors to, perhaps impress a long lost school buddy and so on. There are a few exceptions, but in my opinion, these are far and few in between.

Food isn’t a cold clinical thing. It’s supposed to be cooked with passion, served with a smile and eaten with gusto. There lies my other issue with most restaurants. There are very few out there that give you a warm feeling when you enter. Fewer that manage to replicate the same warmth in their staff and finally, a relatively minute number that can dish out food to match.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to find a place where you’re instantly at ease the moment you walk in, greeted with a wide, genuine smile and then fed like a king?

So, where does one find great food, served with a smile, in a cosy, comfortable and friendly atmosphere? Bernardo’s, where else?

Having read and heard much about Bernardo’s, we decided to visit the place and taste their food for ourselves. Started by a Goan couple – Crescentia and Chrys, Bernardo’s is one of the few restaurants that serves honest-to-goodness, real, politically incorrect Goan food… with a dollop of love thrown in for good measure. Tiny by Delhi standards, Bernardo’s can seat about 18 people. Standing in a room that oozed warmth and the mouth watering fragrances of simmering food, believe it or not, the first thing I did was to take a deep breath and sigh. Cane furniture, tiny tables and pictures hung on hand painted walls and completes the scene.

Goan food, while similar to Konkani food is really a cuisine in it’s own right. Influenced by Hindu origins and 400 years of Portuguese occupation, Goan food has distinct differences between Hindu and Christian cooking. The state’s food has also developed an international angle due it’s huge tourist inflows.

Putting aside their quaint, wooden menus we asked Crescentia to suggest dishes of her choice… and lived to regret it. She plied us with all manner of meats and seafood, simmered in sinfully delicious gravies, brimming with spices and seasoning, each one with a distinct flavor of it’s own. Our tables were laden with mutton croquettes, fish fofo (croquettes), prawn recheado, almondecas de camarao (prawn and coconut cutlets), peixe recheado (mackerel stuffed with spices), caril de camarao (traditional coconut based prawn curry), caldinho de camarao (prawns in a mild yellow coconut gravy), xacuti de galinha (chicken in a roasted coconut curry), vindalho de porco (spicy pork curry), sorpotel (finely diced curried pork and liver), assado de porco (roasted pork) and tamreal de porco (stewed pork). Dessert saw us stuffing our faces with slices of Crescentia’s utterly delicious apple cinnamon and carrot date cakes.

Quick primer: ‘Recheado’ means ‘Stuffed’ in Portuguese. Similarly, ‘Galinha’ means ‘Chicken’, ‘Caril’ means ‘Curry’, ‘Camarao’ means ‘Shrimp’, ‘Porco’ means ‘Pig’ or ‘Pork’, ‘Assado’ means ‘Roast’, ‘Peixe’ means ‘Fish’ and ‘Caldinho’ means ‘Broth’. There! Now you’re all set to translate most of Bernardo’s menu.

[singlepic id=683 w=320 h=240 float=left]Now this is real food – the kind you can dig into. While each dish was excellent, the Sorpotel, Assado de Porco and Prawn Recheado require special mention. The Sorpotel comprised finely diced pork and liver cooked in a delicious, spicy gravy with Goan vinegar – equally delectable with rice and pao. The Prawn Recheado was deep fried prawns stuffed with a hot mixture of ground spices. The Assado de Porco was slices of roasted pork with fried potatoes and spicy fried onions.

If you haven’t been to Bernardo’s, you’re depriving yourself of some seriously scrumptious fare.

– Sid

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Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.