Margao Central: For an unique fine dining experience!
Turning the scrap railway compartment into an air-conditioned fine-dining restaurant, Amey Naik has offered the foodies in South Goa a place to call their own, to spend quality time together with family or friends or just party
22nd July 2019, 02:22 Hrs
Walk in any day in this one-of-a-kind restaurant in Margao that offers a feel of dining in a stationed railway compartment with similar sitting arrangement that one finds while travelling by train. The menu is inviting and boasts of Goan delicacies. Little slow to serve the sumptuous fish thali that has too many items for a single person to consume, the price is only Rs 200 which seems reasonable, or so to say, quite cheap. Two large pieces of king fish, Goan style prawn fish curry served with basmati rice, kismoor, shell fish, squids, a brinjal vegetable (cooked well to taste good), a mixed salad, pickle, solkadi and a dessert (moogache kann or some sort of kheer) that’s again, too good. So for a person to enjoy all this in just Rs 200 is like being in heaven, free.
Actually, the commercial capital of the state (Margao) is already blessed with a Madgao Café and a Bombay Café. And while Mumbai (former Bombay) has a Mumbai Central, Margao has now an added ‘Margao Central’. However, the only difference between Mumbai Central and Margao Central is - one is a train station while the other is a train restaurant in a railway compartment tugged in between two artificial platforms on the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) complex in Margao.
The brain child of Sanjay Gupta, chairman and managing director (CMD) at KRCL, the restaurant is run by Amey Naik, who spent over a crore rupees to modify the railway compartment to give it a cosy appearance, suited for parties and occasions apart from regular fine dining experience. Lying in the scarp yard in bad shape, the throw-away compartment took two years for modification before it turned out to be a multi-cuisine train restaurant on the Ravanfond junction. KRCL started the bidding process in November 2016 and Amey won the contract. Taking this project as a challenge, with no formal training in hospitality, Amey, a degree holder in electronics and communication engineering worked on it and finally started it in 2018.
Actually it was a suggestion from a family friend of him who has seen the coach being converted into restaurant by one of the contractors. But it was not well maintained and hence the KRCL authorities wanted to bid it to be run on professional basis. Amey grabbed the opportunity. Now, the interiors have been modified, giving it the look of a proper air-conditioned restaurant. Just a few months old, it’s becoming increasingly popular among the young foodies who want to experience something in a totally out-of-the-box sort of ambiance. After Bhopal in MP and Jaipur in Rajasthan, Margao is the third city in India and Goa the third state where such unique restaurant set up is available.
“Whenever we want to spend some quality time together, we just come here,” says a young couple who enjoys spending leisure time while having good food and is a regular at Margao Central on weekends. A favourite of the middle-class families and also foreigners, the 22-meter-long coach with two adjacent platforms can accommodate around 50 people inside and some 90 more outside. Some of the popular dishes on the menu are Madgaon Central special paneer tikka, Mandovi Express potato cafreal, Madgaon Central Goan thali (fish and vegetarian), Aquem special Kombdi peri peri, Madgaon Central fresh green salad or the North East Express Thai coriander soup. These are just a few of the names, there’s a whole list of mouth-watering dishes on the menu card and the restaurant is getting popular by word of mouth publicity. The timings, here, are 7 am to 11 am and 12 noon to 11 pm and food offered apart from the Goan cuisine, is South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, seafood, desserts and beverages.
“The price, ambiance, hygiene, taste and a unique experience – all this matters when we plan to eat out, and Margao Central just fits in all these categories,” quips a teenager who comes with his friends here on every Sunday. While the deputy general manager, public relations at KRCL, Baban Ghatge opines, “It is a fact that the Konkan Railway is generating additional revenue through the annual licence fees from the food court and the coach restaurants, but more than that, the aim was to offer our passengers as well as locals quality food in a hygienic environment and that’s the purpose we wish to serve.”
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