BY KUHELI BHATTACHARYA RANE
When a Goan restaurant decides to open a new branch, it is in itself a laudable event, but when they decide to open a second branch in the same city , merely 5 km from the original, then it’s a testimony to its immense popularity. Ritz Classic, the one on second floor of a building just off the 18 June road is a Goan classic no doubt. So, when they opened their branch in Patto, the posh and well planned industrial hub of Panaji, the expectations were high.
Ambience: Ample parking, a glass façade, and a two storey well lit formica interiors makes the Patto Ritz, well, really ritzy. A far cry from the original Ritz, which had closely spaced tables, economical seating much akin to college canteens. The new Ritz is spacious and provides an atmosphere where you can sit and relax and chat with friends and family, without feeling guilty about the long queue still waiting to be seated.
Food: You can make out the care and detailed analysis prior to opening the Patto Ritz. How do I make that assumption? Simple, by having the much ordered lime soda. There used to be a cherry at the bottom of the glass, and much of the meal time was spent trying to get the cherry out of the glass; but this was at the original Ritz Classic. Here at Ritz Patto they have conveniently pitted the cherries and strung them through the straw! No struggle at all.
We decided that the only true way to review Ritz Patto was to order our favourite dishes from Ritz classic original.
There are a few new additions here though, the mocktails and cocktails. We ordered a margarita and a cosmopolitan, both were passably good, but the sheer joy of having the option of drinks at Ritz made us rate them high.
We ordered the crab soup. Now, we used to always joke that the crab soup at Ritz is like sweet corn chicken soup without the chicken and the corn, and very little crab. The version at Ritz Patto was more watery in consistency, a lot more crab, but lacking in flavour. We liked our Ritz original better.
Next we ordered the mackerel recheado. The mackerel pieces were larger than at classic, and had the spice neatly packed into the slit, unlike the messier more casual plating at Ritz Classic. Also we got a side of salad.
The rava fried kingfish and the masala chonak were both done well, but again we couldn’t help comparing. Maybe it was the plates, we concluded. The stainless steel oval serving plates at the original Ritz made the fish steaks always look larger, as opposed to the white serving plates at Ritz patto. The prices are higher too. Is the fish as fresh? Well yes, and no. On the multiple visits we made it was a definite hit and miss, sometimes.
Another favourite is the crab xecxec. The version at Ritz Classic original has a lot of the dried desiccated coconut paste, while the one at Patto had predominant onion gravy. The Patto one was more flavourful, more well balanced and yet the absence of the abundant coconut made me question if we had been served the xecxec or the crab sukka.
No meal is ever complete without the fish curry rice. This is where the real difference comes in. the prawns are larger at Ritz Patto, the curry thicker too, and yet it lacks flavour. Maybe because larger prawns aren’t as tasty as medium and smaller variety suggested some of our companions. Maybe, but we expect more from the branch of the famous Ritz. Was it a little sweet? Had they managed to put sugar instead of salt? We came back to try it a second and third time. We concluded that it was an ok prawn curry, but not as good as the Ritz Classic.
We ended the meal with the caramel custard which was delightful. A pleasure, which we have not had at the original Ritz.
So in conclusion, Ritz Classic Patto may share the same menu as its original branch, but may not necessarily share the same cooks. All the preparations are slightly different from the original and which may leave the loyal Ritz goer feeling let down. But as a stand alone Goan eatery, it has many advantages, such a convenient location for the tourist from North Goa, ample parking for the harrowed Panjikar, quick lunch option for the Patto office goer, a plush interior to invite guests and have small get-togethers.