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A 236, Super Mart 1, DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon 122009, HR


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Goan in 60 seconds
Jul 11, 2010 02:38 AM 4301 Views
(Updated Jul 11, 2010 11:46 PM)

Food and Presentation:


Customer Service:

Value for Money:

Most people are sentimental idiots. And smart restaurateurs know that. Speak the magic words, “this recipe has been handed down through the generations”, and gullible patrons will empty their plates and wallets like a bladder full of beer. Even if the recipe is for snout of pig in red chilli sludge. At least that’s what the vindaloo(around Rs 260) we ordered tasted like – thick hunks of hard blubber laced with gristle and, indeed, a trace of bristle, the unholy lot floating in a disguise of fiery curry.

Yet, there are old family photographs(whose family?) on the wall, friendly plastic placemats scrawled with words of praise for the cook, and all of five or six tables. That illusion of intimacy, it’s almost like being at a small family function where it’s the host’s thought that counts, not the tidings of imminent diarrhoea. How can you possibly be rude?

I’m certainly not going to hesitate. There’s something cynical about the whole operation at Bernardo’s. The logic is this: We’re poky, we have one waiter, we have an eccentric old man fussing over bills at the desk, we have old photos on the wall, our recipes have been “tested by our mother Felicidade”. Therefore, we’re authentic, we’re the real thing, we’re like a shack on the beach, but there’s no beach so please pay as six times as much for food half as good.

Should one blame Felicidade? She may well be one of those matriarchs who are as prone to leaving key ingredients out of family recipes as they are to leaving care taking nieces out of their will.

The peixe recheado(fish stuffed with spices) didn’t taste all that bad but they kill their fish by starvation. At nearly Rs 300, this starter was barely an amuse bouche. This was followed by the unspeakable vindaloo and another forgettable dish – I honestly can’t remember what it was, maybe because there was so little of it. We also wanted to order the Goan sausages, but they didn’t have it that day. You can choose to mop up your grease with rice or slices of pau. We chose the bread, straight from a nearby kirane ka dukaan, not mother Felicidade’s oven.

Disappointed, but with hope still aglimmer, we finally ordered dessert. There was no bebinca. Hope dimmed. There was banana walnut cake. It arrived. Hope died. My boyfriend and I chewed on the dehydrated rock-like lump, purged ourselves of a good Rs 1500 and went home hungry.

A lot of people seem to be thoroughly charmed by Bernardo’s fake small-town-appeal positioning, and seem to believe that they’re getting ‘authentic’ home-cooked Goan food. I’m not saying that they’re not. But have you ever tried my grandmother’s ‘authentic, home-cooked’ moussaka? It’s awful. Forget the food for a second, Bernardo’s stingy portion sizes, indifferent service and steep prices also belie the cosy atmosphere they try to cultivate. Unfortunately, they don’t even have to try very hard.Just a bunch of old photographs. Like I said, most people are sentimental idiots. If shacks-ploitation cuisine is what they want, it's what they'll get.

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Bernardo's - DLF Phase 4 - Gurgaon