BY KUHELI BHATTACHARYA RANE
The Chapora river flows seamlessly into the Arabian Sea,and at this estuary lies a restaurant called Jardind’Ulysse. It’s a few steps away from the Morjim beach ,and as you drive down the road to Morjim beach keep a look out on the right for a sign for Jardin d’ Ulysse and yes, Google maps helps too.
A few years back we went for an early morning walk to Morjim beach, and happened to chance upon this quaint place, and followed it up with a hearty breakfast at Jardind’Ulysse. What I wasn’t expecting was the delightful tree house from where one gets a bird’s eye view of the river and boats, as one enjoyed the scrumptious breakfast. Since then this place is the family’s favourite ‘best kept secrets’. Since it’s the new year and I am feeling especially benevolent, we decided to share our secret tree house hideout with all the readers.
Ambience: Cool and shady with a garden atmosphere, set amongst trees, Jardind’Ulysse is a pleasant change from the sunny shacks where foreigners vie for the 50 shades of brown. Morjim is a popular beach with the Russians, and I had heard that some of the restaurants gave them preferential treatment. At Jardind’, there is a separate menu card written in Russian but apart from that I didn’t feel discriminated. In fact even though very few Indians were at the restaurant at that time of day, I felt right at home. Owned by Gilbert and Fleur, this place also has rooms to let, and is open from breakfast to dinner. They also have free wi-fi, and a lot of patrons were on their laptops, enjoying a lazy Sunday.
Food: We ordered the English breakfast of baked beans, bacon, eggs and toast. There was a choice of coffee or tea, but when I requested for a fresh juice instead of the hot beverages, they complied. Suresh our waiter was both attentive and yet gave us space, we sat lounging at the restaurant for the better part of the morning and yet the staff didn’t get impatient.
The breakfast was hearty, with the eggs done to perfection. I had ordered sunny side up, and they were just the right amount of runny yolk. The surprise element was the fresh toasted baguette which was served. In most English breakfasts served across Goa, the bread is generally plain sliced white bread. The sesame seed studded roll served at Jardind’ went just marvellously with the orange marmalade. I might even return to this place to eat bread and jam, it was that good. Another plus point was that the price was lesser than some of the more famous beach shacks on Baga beach.
Not wanting to give up on our coveted positions in the tree house, we decided to catch a nap right there on the mattresses conveniently placed on the floor of the tree house. The inspiring atmosphere of sitting in a tree house, while listening to the rustling through the bamboo trees, and gazing at the ocean, made me whip out my laptop and pen down a few thoughts of my own.
Jardind’ has a variety of healthy beverages of fruit juices to choose from. They serve beer as well. But breezers and cocktails however are not available. Espresso coffee however was the most ordered drink from what I made of the heavenly aromas.
For lunch we had the butter garlic prawns served on a bed of buttered mash potatoes, and a side of roasted veggies. The day’s specials are written on a chalkboard and we had the house special crab done in butter and parsley sauce, served with fries and extra dressing on the side along with a salad. Beautifully balanced flavours, immense care to let the sweetness of the fresh sea food shine through, soft prawns with a hint of a crunch. It all seemed so light and healthy while I knew that there was buttery goodness in almost everything we had ordered.
Words of caution though, while eating in the tree house beware of the other inhabitants of the tree, the birds. There were a pair of crows which hopped from table to table, and I was forced to guard my food, and gobble it quickly. Even though I was satiated, I couldn’t leave the place without trying their chocolate mousse, but even though it looked amazing, it was a bit dense for my taste. It needed a few minutes to thaw in the sun.They also have a few homemade ice creams with interesting flavours like ginger and coconut.
This place is a perfect way to spend your morning, and the strings of light hung on the trees, makes me confident that it must be a magical place in the evenings as well.