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Restaurant Review: The Secret Of Fresh Catch Is Out

The legend of a great seafood restaurant can never stay a secret for long and we are glad Fresh Catch is no longer one.

Sayoni Bhaduri

Old timers in the city of Mumbai, particularly those inhabiting in and around Mahim, know of the legend of Fresh Catch well. The 25-year-old seafood restaurant was a favourite of many. Run by Francis Fernandes for those 25 years, the little eatery served some of the best western coastal cuisine.

A year-and-a-half ago Fernandes passed away and the building the original Fresh Catch inhabited went under redevelopment. This presented a unique opportunity for Fernandes’ children, Adith and Ankita. Motivated by their father’s legacy, goodwill, and sense of hospitality—they opened doors to the 2.0 version of Fresh Catch in Bandra.

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The legacy continues

A big colourful pelican greets us at the entrance of the new Fresh Catch. This isn’t the only homage to the original restaurant. There is also a hall of fame, which forms the centrepiece of the restaurant. It holds photographs of Francis and his celebrity patrons, as well as coveted news clippings about the restaurant. The decor with its coral pink walls with blue furniture is simple, warm, and cheerful.

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Adith was on the restaurant floor that evening and charming everyone with his schoolboy grin. And as he placed our order of Fresh Catch’s popular bombil fry, he elaborated on the siblings’ decision to revive the legendary restaurant. With the Mahim outlet going under redevelopment, it provided an opportunity to spread to a new location and a new audience.“Home-style food and recipes from our family are at the core of Fresh Catch. My father was adamant that it is the way to win over patrons and it worked,” he adds.

Revel in the homestyle fare

At this point, the soft yet crunchy texture of the bombil fry distracted us. The filleted fish coated with just the right amount of the semolina crust and tawa fried was wholesome. For lovers of a good Bombay duck fry, this will check all the boxes.

Fresh Catch sources its produce fresh from the docks daily and boasts of serving seafood most restaurants ignore. The Kane or lady fish fry is one such thing. The fish, no longer than the size of your hand, is a regional delicacy on the West coast and has found a pride of place at Fresh Catch. Marinated with house masalas and fried with the semolina coating, it will feel and look similar to the bombil fry—but as you bite into the fish, the piquant flavours ensure a difference in the taste profile.

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The classic coastal Kannada favourite, neer dosa, a steamed dosa—airy and light—was perfect to mop off the butter garlic crab—a bestseller at Fresh Catch. It’s a simple dish but the balance of flavours is where the trick lies. The sweet, fresh crab meat was stir-fried in the allium-dairy fat combo to enhance the complexity of flavours. This was quickly followed by prawn curry and rice and pomfret in fresh green-masala marinade.

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You must wash all the deliciousness with Fresh Catch’s homemade Sol Kadi—it is by far the best Sol kadi we’ve come across. Tart yet savoury, Kokum mixed with rich and creamy coconut milk is unlike the watered-down version one commonly finds.A special mention must also be made of the pickle that is served with your meal in a miniature barni.

Reasons to come back

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While we gleefully overdosed on the variety of fresh seafood dishes at Fresh Catch, there is plenty on offer for vegetarians and non-pescatarians. Adith tells us about the veg kingfish fry. As we looked quizzically at him, he revealed that it was one of his father’s successful experiments where chunky eggplant slices are marinated in a spicy and tangy masala and then rava-fried. Other vegetarian dishes include wallachi amti, a green leafy vegetable in a mild coconut-based sauce. Eternal favourites of vindaloo and xacuti replace meat with assorted vegetables. The quintessential sukka style too comes with a variety of proteins.

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As we neared the end of our meal, a table next to us was loudly debating whether two plates of bombil fry or three would suffice the table of six and quickly moving on to the rest of their meal. It was obvious that the legendary tales of great food at Fresh Catch quickly travelled and with good reason. Hearty, wholesome, and delicious—the desi fare at Fresh Catch was earnest and heart-warming, and in a time when restaurants are launching at a dizzying speed, very satisfying.

Photo: Fresh Catch
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