Once upon a time, a young girl in Mumbai was told of a seafood place that could satiate her cravings for fish. She went to Fresh Catch in Mahim and fell in love with the Crab Butter Garlic, Surmai Fry and Seafood Pulao, and the pink pelican at the entrance. Over the years, that girl has made many more visits and stuck to her favourite dishes, despite the increased prices. This week, she went back again.
This time, it wasn’t hunger that drove me to Fresh Catch, but work (my story on Mahim’s other seafood place, Saibeni Gomantak). It turned out to be a delicious homecoming.
The pelican was still there, the music was the same – instrumental versions of 80s and 90s pop music, the patterned tablecloth, the photos of seaside places and fishing nets on the wall, a section dedicated to the many celebrities who’ve visited the place and the big ugly pelican out front…nothing had changed.
The food, like always, surprised and comforted. Sol Kadhi (Rs 80) made for a frothy, watery start. Then came the Prawns Sukka (Rs 380) and we were hooked. It was worth its weight in the oil it was covered in, a mildly spicy onion and tomato gravy covering crunchy, juicy prawns. Bangda Huggay (Rs 350 for two pieces) reminded us of the Goan rechead bangda – fresh mackeral slit and stuffed with a spicy masala. Good though it was, in paled in comparison to the star of the evening, Calamari Dry (425) – oysters cooked till soft served up in a thin, chilli-based curry, which we mopped up with Neer Dosa (Rs 90).
The favourites were the biggest letdowns. The Crab Meat Butter Garlic (725) came steaming on a banana leaf, with a thick layer of crunchy fried garlic on top. The crab could’ve done with more seasoning because on its own, it couldn’t hold the dish. The prawn counterpart fared better. The Seafood Pulao (435) was stuffed with steamed prawns, crab meat and squid and had a khichdi-like consistency.
Take My Breath Away’s instrumental version filled the empty room providing adequate accompaniment to the dessert, Caramel Custard (Rs 160) – a creamy, smooth custard with just the right quiver, dressed with a dark sweet caramel.
On my way out, I gave a knowing nod to the pelican. It felt apt since I now knew what it meant to be stuffed to the gills with fish.
Fresh Catch is located at Lt Kotnis Marg, near Fire Brigade, off LJ Road; open from 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm (Mondays closed); call 30151696