A pelican with a beak full is an appropriate mascot I thought, as I strode in to Fresh Catch this week.
The restaurant, in a bylane of Mahim, is a small wood-panelled seven table affair, but it has a big heart. And soul too, lots of soul. Chat with the owner, Francis Fernandes and you’ll know.
His stint with several hotels left him disillusioned with the short cuts and compromises they practiced. Armed with his mother’s age old recipes, she’s a very good cook by the way, and the belief that he could extend the home cooked experience to all, Fresh Catch was founded about 12 years ago.
Just as he would for his mother, Fernandes goes to the market everyday to hand-pick every fresh ingredient. All his spices are specially ground for each dish, nothing comes out of a pack. For their curries, the herbs and spices come from his hometown of Karwar, in coastal North Karnataka. And that includes a consignment of coconuts which, by the way, are aplenty in Mumbai. Coconuts you ask? Yes, “Their coconut milk is better” says Francis.
And all this care floods the food. Food that’s delectable and light, none of the grease spoon stuff here. The spices don’t smother the food, but enhance the flavors and the taste keeps regulars like me satisfied.
Being home-style North Karnataka coastal cuisine, the menu is dominated by fish and seafood, reflecting the common man’s food in this region. In Karwar’s culinary tradition, chicken and mutton are for special occasions so only a sprinkling of their dishes feature on the menu.
I go back for the crisply fried Bombil or Bombay Duck (well, it’s not a duck, it’s a fish but that’s another story), Konkan Treasure Prawns, Rawa fish (samolina), fried Kané (ladyfish), Gaunti (a free-range country chicken), curry mopped up with Neer Dosas (rice pancakes), Fish Roe, and Rechad Prawns.
Fresh Catch, Lt. Kotnis Marg, near Fire Brigade, off LJ Road, Mahim (West), Mumbai; tel. +91(0) 22 24448942. Closed on Mondays.