Antares by Sarah Todd
The People & The Place
As yet another season begins, Sarah Todd’s Antares is back in action for its third year. Set overlooking the Arabian you are greeted with the stunning view of the setting sun, the swaying palms and sea at this beachside restaurant in Vagator. The rustic and cosy interiors invoke a familiar sense of feeling like you never left the last time you were here.
Launched in 2015 by Sarah Todd and Ashish Kapur, Antares has established itself as one of the go-to places for the best dining experiences in Goa. Every year Sarah puts out a new menu, whipping out new dishes and refining the old ones based on her learnings and experiences of the past seasons. As she joins us for the meal, she explains the intricacies of each dish, how she tweaks the flavours to suit the Indian pallet and ingredients. While the first two seasons presented a bit of a learning curve given she was new to the place and environment, she is now confident and believes she has understood the restaurant scene here. She has extensively travelled around India learning the different cultures and their influence on the taste and aroma of foods they eat. Sarah continues to source all the ingredients locally and makes regular visits to the local market to get the freshest of them.
On why she chose Goa to set up her first restaurant in India, she tells us about how Goa reminds here of her hometown in Australia. Coming from a small town she remembers how idyllic and well knitted the community is, something that she very much sees and feels the same about Goa. The closeness to the sea and the pleasant weather is also that she and her mum looks forward to every year. “My mum always comes down to Goa at this time of the year. She loves spending time at the restaurant, guiding the staff and making sure everything is spik and span. My son loves it here too and looks forward to the holidays just so he can spend his time here in Goa” says Sarah.
“All this feels like I am home.” – Sarah
The Food & Drinks
The Crack your coconut cocktail is quintessential Antares; a seemingly ordinary local ingredient mashed but by a creative mix of spirits and spices to produce the perfect drink. The rum-infused tender coconut drink is refreshing and leaves you with a slight buzz.
The Whiskey Sour is an Antares signature cocktail and also popular among the whiskey drinkers.
In Goa, every meal is ended with the consumption of the solkadhi or kokum water. The Kokum Margarita, on the other hand, is a spirit infused kokum syrup that makes a refreshing cocktail and raising your appetite for the delicious meal to follow.
To start the meal off was the perfectly Barbequed Chicken Skewers served with corn puree and pomegranate salsa.
Seafood is an integral part of the Goan cuisine and Sarah makes sure to include varied choices in the menu.
The Chilli Barbecued Prawns with crisp onion, paprika mayonnaise and lemon pickled cucumber is a unique take on the crowd favourite; the prawn. The tanginess of the pickle with the spicy tinge of paprika combined with the charcoal coated succulent prawn, leaves you with no words to describe the explosion of flavours.
Having tried every possible variant of the snapper preparation all over Goa, home cooked and in a restaurant, it is very unlikely to expect anything new when it comes to this fish. But Sarah’s preparation of the Citrus Cooked Snapper Ceviche served with nachos totally took us by surprise. As you bite into the nachos and the soft fleshy oozing citrus fish pieces, you are left with a tangy crunchy tingling flavour in your mouth. This by far is the most delicious preparation of snapper we have ever eaten.
The Slow-cooked Lamb is a dish that is true to its name. Marinated overnight in Sarah’s secret marinade sauce, it is cooked over lower heat for 6 hours before it is served. Because of this the flavours are so infused and the meat so soft that it all just simply melts in your mouth. This is a must try for all you meat lovers and it certainly makes the bucket list of dishes to try at least once in your lifetime.
For those wanting to try some Goan dishes the Cafreal Bao, Mussel Hot Pot and the Goan Fish Curry make a good pairing.
Some other popular dishes include the Chicken Tacos, Tiger Prawn Risotto, Lamb Cutlet, Prawn Toasties and Nasi Goreng to name a few.
Ending the meal on a sweet note is a Deconstructed Banoffee Cheesecake Pie and Petit Gateau.
Antares is a place that gives you the sense of familiarity with quality, taste and consistency but at the same time surprises you every time with its innovative and creative offering. Sarah Todd’s vision and passion are evident from the meticulously prepared menu and her willingness to experiment and present world class cuisine to the Indian palate. The hilltop sea facing location, the rustic cosy ambience, the innovative cocktails, the delicious food and the lovely company of Sarah, all make for a soulful enjoyable dining experience.