In an exclusive conversation with Restaurant India, Aakritee Singh, Partner and Chef, A Reverie, talks about her restaurant in Goa and the expansion plans.
As your brand is all about having a great dining experience. What are the elements that you bring in to give customers’ an everlasting experience?
A meal at A Reverie is comforting and yet gastronomically challenging, the food is simultaneously artisanal and technical, with references to both traditional and avant-garde. We don’t want to be a restaurant that does anything as prosaic as merely feeding people. Instead; we attempt to conjure the history, landscape and soul of culinary evolution from around the globe in a series of thoughtful, attractive plates of food.
For a restaurant to be good; so many pieces have to come together and our restaurant is a three dimensional, fully sensual, repeat artistic performance every day.
You have hosted likes of Vijay Mallya, Hrithik Rohan, Celebrity Chef Raymond Blanc, Yuvraj Singh and Farah Ali, Sussanne Khan, Sushmita Sen, Pooja Bedi, amongst many others. How difficult/easy was it for you to host or accommodate them? Tell us about your experiences?
For us, all our diners are VIP and there is no special status given to celebrities (except for often, they have a retinue of their security team). Most of these celebrities over the years have become extremely dear friends and regular patrons. Serving them is in fact far easier, and not because they have higher spending power, but because they truly understand the creative aspects of our culinary philosophy and are less fussy; leaving it to us to serve them whatever we please. Experience of serving them has been an absolute pleasure and effortless to be honest.
What are the design elements that make ‘A Reverie’ different from other restaurants?
A Reverie has an air of contemporary tropical chic. Behind the intriguing facade, a warm yet professional welcome awaits you. The recent re-design & renovation, this November has only enhanced that further. At first glance, A Reverie is theatrical; deliberately intended to root diners in “a reverie”
The dining area of the restaurant provides a cohesion that few places can emulate. It is a universe of emotional connections, enriched with the feedback of proximity.
Tell us about your journey in the world of food?
My husband and I were professionally trained in the hospitality business and worked at the finest luxury hotels in the country; had garnered a compelling individual reputation in their respective fields. Since its inception A Reverie instantly became an institution to reckon with; the standards have remained stratospheric and therein began one of the most intriguing stories in modern Goa gastronomy.
What are the challenges that you face in running a high end restaurant in Goa?
At the onset; we do not consider ourselves high end, though it has been a general perception. It’s just that we are different from quite a few sea side casual eateries with no negative inclination towards them. Entrepreneurship in this country, not just Goa does come with a fair share of challenges. One is perennially on a fire fighting mode, which can get rather overwhelming at times. We have had a rather crazy tryst with such challenges.
The key challenges specific to Goa, which we reckon other restaurateurs too suffer seasonal variables, ever changing markets, ingredient availability, torrential rains that cause enormous damage to property, equipment, resulting an issues of maintenance. It’s like opening a new restaurant every year with stupendous costs of pre-opening, especially for open air or partially open air restaurants like ours.
Quality manpower and retaining a consistent loyal team in a state where a huge segment has a traditional sailor temperament of wanting to work aboard is a huge challenge. And lastly, there is a small segment of audience who fail to appreciate our pricing and compare to some other eateries obsession and fail to understand our obsession with supremely high quality ethically sourced ingredients which come at a price. And that being a licensed legitimate business operation, we are obliged to charge VAT.
Are there any plans to take the business to other parts of the country? Absolutely in form of pop up formats or perhaps even permanent ventures. We look forward towards showcasing the essence of Goa to other parts.
How did you design your menu? Tell us something about that?
Over the years, travelling and exploring have given me a way to explore new things. Dishes are re-visited, re-interpreted and re –invented. It is an endless continuous pursuit of learning, nourishing one’s love of food & its improvisation whilst maintaining a youthful enthusiasm, energy & dynamism.
We have seen many new restaurants opening in Goa during the last one year and the new one is that of Sarah Todd. Do you look at her as a potential competitor?
Firstly, in the business of restaurateuring; perhaps unlike many other businesses good competition is the greatest thing. No one has a meal at the same restaurant every day, especially whilst on a holiday experience. Multiple good restaurants help build a gourmet destination and collectively help all restaurants & a holiday destination. Travellers in today’s day and age actually plan holidays around meal experiences. We would want nothing more than to have many more great dining establishments open in Goa.