We rode down familiar lanes before taking a turn we barely noticed before. Then past the overgrown gardens of simple, old houses until we finally spotted the sign that read ‘The Village Studio’ in Parra. This artsy café in Goa is located close to the Nagoa Church and behind St. Joseph’s School – a short drive away from the beaches of Calangute and Baga. From my home in Saligao, it was a pleasant 10 minute ride on that absolutely perfect morning.
A white dog, lazing in a patch of sunshine turned to look at us as we entered the gate. And as we walked round the side of the house to the backyard, he promptly dozed off with a satisfied sigh, giving us a sense of how chilled-out the place is.
The Village Studio is divided into 2 sections – both open air, but with one side shaded by the trees, and the other, with a roof overhead. The entire space is very open and airy with tall bamboos on one side, overlooking a pond. Sparse yellow furniture occupies the garden area, along with a vintage looking couch in one corner. We plonked ourselves down in the indoor area, which looked more comfortable in terms of seating. Distressed dining tables and chairs, another couch, some painted tables, funky-looking bar stools and colourful walls just about makes up the vibrant space.
Nabil and Mohsina, the owners, came over to say hello and chat with us about their venture. These once working professionals in Bangalore gave up their corporate jobs to move to Goa and take over the Village Studio – it had just the right vibe that they were after – slow-paced and in tune with nature. Now that I think about it, the environment actually reminded me of a bunch of outdoor cafes in Pondicherry!
They say that a great coffee shop or restaurant should reflect its neighbourhood and that couldn’t be any more apt for The Village Studio, with its canopy of green cover, gusts of wind and the sound of silence, save for the chirping of the birds and rustling leaves.
THE FOOD AT THE VILLAGE STUDIO
The menu at The Village Studio in Parra keeps changing every couple of months, and it has bits and bobs of various kinds of cuisines. New offerings are showcased on their social media channels – an unconventional style of operation for an age where we look up the menus of a place online before deciding to visit a restaurant. But the handwritten menu on coloured pages tied together with a piece of wool, adds to the homely, rustic environment that the hosts are trying to create.
As Mohsina hails from Assam, many dishes on the menu have their origins in the North East as well as in Bengal. We started our meal with a beetroot tikki, on her recommendation. Shredded beetroot mixed together with peanuts and topped with sesame seeds, served with a side of green chutney was a light, healthy start to our meal.
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I flipped through the menu and judging from the offerings, it seemed like a great place to pop in for breakfast. Their all-day breakfasts have items like Egg Choriz, omelettes, pancakes drizzled over with homemade caramel (yum!), seasonal fruit bowls and smoothies.
For a light bite, there are a few interesting salads and small plates to choose from. Whereas for mains, the menu features items like Pasta, Moussaka, handmade meatballs, jackfruit and dal bori curry, hummus, and a few other options. And to wash it all down, take your pick from among fresh juices, kombucha or the alcohol on offer.
We opted for 2 of the café’s bestsellers – one, chunky Pork with black sesame and rice, and two, homemade baby Prawns served with rice.
The pork dish was minimally spiced and unlike the melt-in-your-mouth tender pork in many kinds of cuisines, the North East version here is quite tough and sticky. I sorely missed a gravy element as eating a dry pork side with plain white rice was a first for me. The Baby Prawn dish was almost identical to the one my mother makes at home – commonly going by the name ‘Prawn Chilly Fry,’ in Goan circles. Again, this was served with white rice – and I can safely assume that a Goan (or perhaps anyone who isn’t from the North East) would have felt that a meal of prawns and rice or pork and rice is incomplete without a curry.
The dessert was the best part of my meal! We ordered a Banana Cake, homemade and absolutely delicious! If it was served warm with a scoop of ice cream, this would have been one cracker of a dessert. We also tried their decadent gluten free brownie, feather soft and so faultless.
SO I’M SAYING
Chilling at The Village Studio will undoubtedly transport you to a much calmer space – both physically and mentally. If there’s one thing I loved, it was the ambiance – I can easily visualize myself spending hours here, sipping on coffee, reading a book or working on my laptop. As far as casual and rustic goes, The Village Studio in Goa does stand out. In terms of food, the place is designed to be as homely as it gets. If you’re not experimental with your food, I’d advise to stick with something you know you’ll like.
That’s all from me right now, guys! I hope I’m helping you find unique new places to try out in Goa! You may also like to read my guide to Cafes in Candolim and if you’re down South, how about giving Ignia – a great steakhouse, a visit?