Cruzwado, Saligao, Goa
Tel: 832 2409461
Meal for two without alcohol:?Rs 1,200
Every time we visit Goa, our friends Leila and Abhijit, professional lollygaggers, take us to one of those wonderful Goan restaurants and nightspots that Lonely Planet hasn’t discovered yet. Last time it was Cantare, a charming joint housed in an old Portuguese-style home, down the lane from where artist F.N. Souza once lived. We climbed the wooden staircase to what looked like a rocking party in progress, and squeezed into the darkened living room.
Somebody was singing old Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday numbers in an exquisite, throbbing voice, backed by what appeared to be not just a regular band, but a group of talented musician friends of different nationalities who had gotten together to jam for the evening. The sangria flowed as couples danced on the minuscule floor, everybody seemed to know everybody else, and from time to time, one of the guests would get up and join in the band, impromptu. It’s that kind of place. The food was mainly tapas-style, and we ordered their crispy calamari, basil bruschetta, feta salad and tempura prawns with mango salsa. It was very good, but we gave their famous poached pears and Thai-style coffee a pass in favour of more sangria and dancing on that sliver of a floor. Soon, the crowd had spilled over onto the verandahs outside, and we counted at least seven different nationalities among them. Cantare means ‘to sing’. Which is probably appropriate for a place with as much joie d’vivre as this.