It isn’t often that a restaurant comes out of nowhere and knocks your socks off! But when it happens, it reminds you why you love eating out in the first place.
Located in Verna in the south of Goa, Ignia opened its doors to the public on November 7th 2015, barely two months ago – and already has patrons raving. What makes this restaurant even more special (apart from the glorious food) is the fact that it was started by a really young group of friends who pooled their resources to kickstart a dream. Roping in Chef Debraj from Hyatt (Ahmedabad) was the cherry on the cake. Just one bite of any of his signature dishes makes you realize that something exciting is going on in the kitchen. The meat is marinated for 12-18 hours and served with secret sauces that nobody knows but him.
What made Ignia stand out for me was the amount of personality that the guys put into their restaurant. Vipin (a hotel management student who experimented with various professions before finding his way back to food) and Varun (who’s been in the industry all along) are up and about, greeting visitors at the door and mingling with them at the table.
Getting to the restaurant can be a little tricky, as you have to drive through a maze of winding roads to find it. But being as young as it is, the signboards with directions are yet to come up. Things take time in Goa 🙂 GPS is accurate.
The restaurant interiors are a fun mix of balcao like seating on the sides and, wooden tables and chairs in the centre. leather seats and stools (with amplifier inspired tables) feature at the other end. The bar, with its glowing blue and purple lights give the eclectic ambience a disco-like feel. The sounds of the gushing Udear Springs nearby lends Ignia a harmonious, zen like vibe. The music is hip, yet soft enough for you to have an uninterrupted conversation.
Thank goodness I visited with family – there was no way I would have finished the meal all by myself.
Thyme Flavoured Chicken Soup – Nothing like a healthy soup to drive away the guilt from the gluttony that follows!! This simple, hearty soup was well infused with thyme and chicken, but the garlic bread that accompanied it was sensational! While garlic bread is usually crispy and firm, this loaf was so soft you could use it as a pillow. The butter, garlic and herbs were consistent with every bite. I can safely say that every other piece of garlic bread will be compared to this one.
Ignia Charmoula Beef – Moroccan style marinated beef slices with whole mushrooms were served on skewers. They were cooked until soft when brought out to the table, and we caramelized the edges on the table top BBQ grill. While it tasted ok on its own, basting the meat with chefs homemade BBQ sauce made it spectacular.
Pulled Pork Burger – If you look up Ignia on Facebook, most of the reviews talk highly of the Pulled Pork Burger and indeed, it doesn’t disappoint. Served with spicy fries, the sweet and smokey pork patty is served in a bun on a bed of veggies. Its funny to watch how everyone stops mid sentence to relish every bite. A fried egg on top drips all over as you bite in, making it so much more fun to eat. Highly recommended.
Char Grilled Chicken – If you don’t eat beef or pork, you’re missing out! But this would be the next best thing to order. The char grilled chicken is served on a bed of mashed potatoes and is cooked to perfection so that it falls off the bone. Glazed with lime, paprika and wine, it isn’t your everyday BBQ chicken, and only a taste of it will make you know the difference.
Beef Brisket – When Varun places the Beef Brisket on the table, he proudly states that one doesn’t need a steak knife to cut it. And rightly so, we didn’t use them. A swipe of the butter knife was enough to slice this super soft chunk of meat. Slightly charred and smokey, it comes in a super sized portion that hits the spot.
Dead Drop Chocolate Fudge – According to Vipin and Varun, the dead drop chocolate fudge is named so because after a hearty meal finished with this rich chocolate fudge, you can die in peace. While the dessert was a little too dense for my liking, I loved the cinnamon leaf on the plate. A large grape soaked in whiskey for two days and then dipped in white chocolate was an ingenious piece of work!
Some restaurants just ride on the buzz of their launches – becoming hot by virtue of being new, and then slipping into mediocrity as time goes by. Getting to know Ignia up close and personal, I can confidently say it will be one of those delicious exceptions that continue to stay relevant as the years go by.
MEAL FOR TWO
The prices are complete “paisa vasool” / value for money. Ranging from Rs. 250-480.
A meal for two would cost around Rs. 1000/- + drinks.
WHAT WOULD MAKE IT BETTER:
The sides – the Salads served on the side of most dishes were very ordinary. Coleslaw, buttered vegetables or buttered corn would have been preferable. A little more flavour in the mashed potatoes is required.
While Ignia has the larger details down to perfection, the smaller things have been missed. Being a rustic BBQ joint, a wet wipe and mouth freshener at the end would make it complete.
I’d love to see Sweet Potato fries on the menu. If that happens, I’ll be one happy camper!
NOTE – My meal was sponsored, however, opinions, as always are mine.
Cya next time!