In a state that constantly innovates to bring new dining spaces to the fore, Goa’s latest haunt, The Second House, explodes with energy, wit, and love.
Ten years ago, in the long, depressing monsoon, with its power cuts and soggy air, there was Gunpowder open in the rains. Friends and I would file into Maruti van taxis and arrive before a rambling old house in Assagao, where we wolfed prawns mappas and Malabar paratha on shaky tables in the balcão. The mood was downbeat or mercurial but we always found music in the storm. We talked about dreams, failed love, difficult books and politics. Goa has been unrecognisable in the decade since–from long lonesome village nights to a vibrant, wholesome state that offers so many Indians a parallel life to the ones they endured in bigger, toxic, ugly cities. Here there is glorious nature and nourishing solitude, a complex cultural life, and a secret hope that you can leave behind all the broken pieces and make something new of your own.
Goa’s Newest Haunt: The Second House
As if to cement Goa’s crown for giving space to some of India’s most unusual creative spaces is The Second House, in Saligao, which marks the debut of an original, visionary and daring new restaurant crafted with an explosion of energy, wit and love. Founder Dishant Pritamani must be lauded for combining so many different tributaries of talent – from harnessing the significant talents of Aldona-based architect Ayaz Basrai to giving Chef Jyoti Singh time for a full set: his menu shimmers with inventive flair, delicacy and power. It is a carefully constructed food program almost literary in sensibility.
While some of The Second House’s AI-based installations appear to demand attention – art must deepen attention not demand it – there is a lot to be admired in Basrai’s full-bodied and luscious sensibility that transforms an old house into something of a sexy little witch. In Parra, years ago, a French chef and his designer wife ran Le Roi Arthur, where different rooms were turned into unique dining spaces. This idea finds a more sophisticated resolution in The Second House, whose only fault is it aspires to perfection when there is no perfection in excellence. A family of rooms offer diners unique, comforting spaces to eat in, culminating in a conservatory created using what could ostensibly have been a wraparound veranda. No question: Basrai has knocked out a landmark in The Second House.
But it is the food – and Chef Jyoti Singh – who are the real stars here: from his kimchi cutlet (INR 375), which has a DIY prerequisite to the wasabi-infused salmon toast (a masterclass in restraint and invention; INR 700). Our starter, with peanut milk, tomato and granola (INR 350) was addictive, light and had a playful echo in our dessert, with its ‘leftover cereal bowl’ affectations (in fact: a sublime dessert, crafted with raspberries, caramel and gelato that’s as light a caress). Founder Pritamani has done what the best curators do: he noticed Chef Jyoti Singh’s big bandwidth and generously gave him the legroom he deserves to fully hone his talents in Goa. Chef Singh would have been ably aided by the spectacular hydroponic produce from the adjoining The First House, from where I order my groceries – the heirloom cherry tomatoes, jumbo asparagus and habanero, they’re all popping with flavour already. What Chef Singh does so remarkably is contrast taste and textures, not for effect but for savour, and you have a growing sense he can only do better as he goes along.
Some aspects of The Second House suffer from The Great Earnestness – annoying photo frames in bathrooms, and a questionable font selection for signage and menu. The wait staff are still in apprentice mode – Yohan, who looked after us, was sensitive and knowledgeable. His gracious shadow presence offset what some of his colleagues were up to–checking the ‘gram on the job. Tch, tch!
But The Second House gets so much right that I know I am only nitpicking. There’s the threat of Subko operating out in the back at a later stage, with its perfect croissant and take-my-money coffee; and there’s a pizza kitchen that I am yet to seek out, maybe that’s what I’ll do when I’m a bit blue, head over for some classic Margherita and a cold beer. I know I’ll cheer myself up at The Second House. I know you will, too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
— Where is The Second House located?
The Second House is located in Muddavadi, Saligao, Goa.
— How much does a meal cost at The Second House?
An average meal for two (excluding taxes and alcohol) at The Second House costs roughly INR 1,800.
— Is The Second House pet friendly?
Yes, The Second House welcomes pets as well.
— What are the timings for The Second House?
The Second House remains open every day from 12 noon to 1:00 am.