Hospedaria Venite | Fontainhas
Colonial quirks and authentic eats, graffitied walls and beer bottle chandeliers, these are the charms found at one of Panjim’s earliest establishments.
The thin, winding streets of Fontainhas in Panjim are an invitation to shrug off one’s itinerary and just explore. The casual observer might be enticed by the colourful silence and architectural charm that this old Latin quarter is famous for. While a more astute contemplation will showcase a curious mix of Indo-Portuguese culture and religion within a contemporary setting. Hospedaria Venite, a 60 year old establishment perched in a 200 year old building provides the most eclectic chronicle of Panjim, its past and its present within its walls.Hospedaria, as the owner Louis explains, is synonymous to an inn. Venite comes from Latin, meaning ‘welcome’. When it began in 1954, Venite was one of the first lodging and boarding establishments in Panjim – this was when Goa was still under the Portuguese rule. Around that time, it was a place frequented by officers, clergymen and administrators. With the eventual independence and the tourist boom in the past 30 odd years, Venite has become of the few restaurants that have stood the test of time and still serves to a loyal and ever increasing group of patrons.
Today, it looks spectacularly charming with its high ceiling, little wooden tables and tiny balconies overlooking the serene Fontainhas by-lanes which are perfect for an afternoon coffee. The best part about the aesthetics, though, is the decades old graffiti that thickly adorns the walls and the ceiling of one of the rooms. This includes everything from love notes to quotes from Nietzsche, accompanied by some very beautiful drawings. When asked about it, I was told that this started when a patron staying in one of the rooms decided to let loose his creative talents on the wall. Somehow, it became a trend, with every visitor leaving their mark in some way. When the owners stopped letting out rooms, one of the walls was removed and installed on the ceiling. It would take you more than a day to just look at all the works on the Venite walls – and it would be worthwhile.The main reason why Venite still thrives amidst modern day restaurants and assembly line fast food joints is the fact that they serve amazing food. The restaurant boasts of an eclectic menu, where traditional favourites reside alongside the new additions that are done every season. The seafood on the menu is fresh catch, that is then transformed into mouth watering Goan, Portuguese and continental preparations. Publicity happens the old fashioned way – through word-of-mouth, and people come from around the world to taste the fabled steaks and pork chops and Venite. I was even told stories about how a patron recalled his father frequenting this restaurant during the good old days. This innkeeper-patron relationship has been kept alive at Venite. Perhaps it is that, along with the delicious food that makes this place so special.
We live in a world where the idea of a ‘meal’ is insulted every day by take-aways and fast food. With lives as busy as ours, we tend to forget that a meal has to be had for the sake of the meal – not while reading a newspaper or watching television or browsing your phone. Venite provides the perfect respite from all this. This is not a place to have lunch, its a place to have a luncheon. It asks you to leave your life at the door, sit in the little rooms full of charm and nostalgia, and have a ‘meal’.
Open | Monday to Saturday | 9am – 10:30pm
Location | 31st January Rd, Panjim, Goa
Contact | +91 832 2425537 / 985 0467008
Article written by Kaushal Spare