Like the days of not such a distant past, of the American sitcom era of Cheers, “a place where everybody knew your name”, that dive bar that one loved, is all reflected this quintessential neighborhood pub called Watson’s. Nestled into the old building of Church Square, Panjim this not so hidden gem has a lot to offer, once one climbs the stairs into their world.
On entering their domain, you are transported to a melting pot of décors. The interiors are reflective of a trendy New York loft bar with all the quirkiness of the old English pub with artworks that projects the mods and rockers clash from 1960’s London. The rebellious attitude on the walls is reflected throughout the pub with exposed wooden beams, showing off this old building’s heritage in all its glory, the earthy Mangalorean tiles, exposed brick work, industrial steel piping and elevated rot iron wooden deck and electric seating come together for a well put together recipe of fun and frolic.
The menu is replete with old favourites that everyone has grown up eating in the hallowed clubs of old, but served with a flourish in this unique atmosphere. As Watson’s has spread to new locales such as Goa and Chennai, the menu has evolved not just to reflect Bangalore’s favourite comfort foods, but also much-loved snacks from across the country and beyond – in short, it’s now your ‘global neighborhood bar.’ At Watson’s, there are no pretentions, they offer what you crave and are comfortable eating on a regular basis, and not only on occasions. It’s the kind of place where you can enter in your shorts and loafers and get your ‘daily fix,’ minus the all the hoopla.
This grub pub, has recently introduced their all new menu with many elements that mirror the state they are in, Goa, but all with their own unique twist just like everything that is Watson’s. With the simple Apple Chutney Salad, which is surprisingly a cross between a Russian Waldorf, Allo Chat and Thayir Sadam (curd rice, south Indian style). “Strange combination, by the sounds of it” I hear you say but surprisingly light and delicious. This humble dish is comprised of potatoes, green apples for that tang, tomatoes and much more, it is the unique hung curd with tarka of mustard seeds & dried red chillies dressing that gives it that Desi twist. To play further into one’s comfort zone there is the Pepper Seafood Soup, a simple clear broth, bite size prawns, coriander, curry leaves and a whole lot of pepper for that extra kick, just perfect for the monsoon and any snivels that one may have, or just something to warm your cockles. One must not miss the Cheezling Bhel, yep you read that right, again that Watson’s twist on a popular street food. Now that Watson’s is in Goa and celebrating their third year, Sous Chef Sujal tells us, “We really did want to infuse the food and the culture of the state amazing into our menu. All the new dishes that we have added are influenced by local flavours, but we wanted to put our own unique touch to it.” So down the Goan road one travels to discover Beef Croquets, Goan Style Chilly Chicken, Chicken Cafreal and Ros Omelette Pav, that bring all the elements of Goa flooding into this tavern. The interesting thing about the Omelette Pav is that it is served in a rather upmarket mini baking dish with subtle Xaacuti gravy that elevates this simple street food to new heights.
On to the main courses, there is a lot to choose from their usual fair. The new menu comprises of interesting elements such as Pork Kosha, pre-marinated slow cooked pork that just melts in our mouth, smoky oven roasted, finished in a Tandoor, Classic BBQ Wings, Spinach & Three Cheese Classic Pizza with homemade dough. Chorizo Pull Apart Bread, this dish that is perfect for sharing with friends and a few cocktails. The Shaking Beef, was a surprising dish as it incorporated so many styles of cooking and flavours profiles, all combined in such a fashion the one must just take another bite. Succulent pieces of sliced beef pre-marinated in red wine (very European) combined with, wait for it, soy, lemon grass, Thai ginger, chilli flakes with a squeeze of lime all tossed together to give one a dish that successfully combined the meeting of east and west. But the piece de resistance here, had to be Naga Pork Curry. This dish really doses pack a punch, this is not for the faint hearted, feeble minded, salad eating, mild mannered individuals, O.K. so now one is pulling your leg here. The curry, is really made with one of the hottest chillies in the world, rated 855,000 to 2,480,000 on the Scoville scale, called the Dragon’s Breath, Naga Morich, Carolina Reaper or better known to us as Bhut Jolokia. Tender succulent cubes of pork, hints of star anise, tangy, spicy curry that blows the lid off but, yet at the same time full of flavour, rich aroma and extremely moreish if one likes one’s curries spicy and flavourful.
Watson’s serves a variety of interesting cocktails and yet again all with a twist. The manager cum mixologist, Subhajit, who happens to have won several awards, brings his own individual blend to this melting pot. The “Curry & Coriander Martini” is a concoction of white rum infused with curry and coriander leaves that have been left to seep their charm into the alcohol for a few days, then “shaken not stirred” with lime, sugar and mint is this doesn’t make Bond change his original drink then nothing will. All in all, this pub is a great amalgamation of people, styles, flavours and all things Watson’s.