Fernando’s Nostalgia is family-run Goan restaurant in Raia that we’re glad is still stuck in time. With a menu that’s a mix of Goan and Portuguese, this deserves special love for being Goa’s only boutique restaurant for traditional cuisine.
The restaurant started at a time when everyone scoffed at the idea of a seasoned, well-known chef opening a restaurant to serve ‘homely food’. Today, it’s become a place where everyone goes to find food that reminds them of their grandmothers. This, the staff tells us, is the biggest compliment. In keeping with this promise, you’ll find the staples like prawn curry rice, beef xacuti and veg caldinho alongside everyone's favourite modso and seafood preparations. What’s more interesting, however, is that they have also nonchalantly added delicacies like Ox Tongue and Pasteis de Bacalhau which dare to go much beyond shark ambotikk and yet, no one seems to be talking about them enough.
This is why, when we were invited to a special lunch and live music on a Sunday, we chose to drive down to check what they were up to. Guilty of devouring the basket of fried potato snacks and a very delish Pasteis de Bacalhau (Fernando’s Nostalgia makes this using Bacalhau smoked cod from Portugal), we were on to their signature cocktails. The Piso with Feni, guava juice and green chilli along with Goenkar Bramble (a heady concoction of gin, kokum, cumin and lime) kept us in good spirits. Post this, another round of cheese rissois was demolished by the vegetarian.
For the main course, we blame our typical selves for not experimenting and sticking with what we love. The beef xacuti with sannas and veg caldin with pao ensured we had zero regrets. We were chuffed to see so much variety of food for both vegetarians and meat eaters and all of it dedicated to household Goan recipes that have been passed over generations. They have interesting pickles, sausage pulao, bhende rechaedo, dry mackerel salad, mixed meat sizzlers and we can go on and on picking dishes on our to-try list.
Now if all this talk about food is still not enough to convince you to make a trek from the North, hear us out: A meal at Fernando’s isn’t just that. It’s cultural immersion in the true sense. With late chef’s epic cooking secrets still intact in the kitchen and his wife, Margarida’s curatorial eye that brings a treasure of Goan artifacts to the yard, this place is a hidden gem, totally worth you travelling all the way for. You'll find garrafaos, old Goan collectibles, utensils and keepsakes from Goan markets casually strewn around for you to marvel at. Pick a day when they’ve got a live band and you’ve got yourself a lovely evening guaranteed.
Moreover, the spirit of good ol’ Goan hospitality can truly be felt at Fernando’s. Here, the hurried staff is actually never too hurried to stop, smile and make sure you’re well attended to. This warmth and of course, some Portuguese food that’s becoming a rarity in Goa, ensures that Nostalgia continues to be a hit with the locals as well. On weekends especially, you’re sure to bump into families, couples, large groups catching up over Feni and live music… Just like those old times.