Try Barfly, an Agave speciality bar, set in a Goan bungalow in Assagao

The team behind Goa’s artisanal bar, Titlie, opens their second venture, Barfly, an agave specialty bar in Assagao

August 25, 2023 04:39 pm | Updated August 26, 2023 08:07 pm IST

Barfly at Assagao, Goa, is housed inside a sprawling 150-year-old Portuguese-Goan bungalow

Barfly at Assagao, Goa, is housed inside a sprawling 150-year-old Portuguese-Goan bungalow | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For chef and entrepreneur Tarun Sibal, the restaurant business is quite similar to the movie business. The self-confessed film buff believes that just like it is in the movies, everything has to be in sync for an F&B space to be a hit. “Right from the food to the ambiance, the drinks, the service, and the cutlery — everything needs to tell one story,” he says. Tarun’s latest venture, along with Karrtik Dhingra, Bipin Sibal and Shyaam Khurana — also the team behind the popular Titlie in Goa — is born out of that very premise. 

Barfly at Assagao, Goa, is housed inside a sprawling 150-year-old Portuguese-Goan bungalow. Exuding an old-world charm, the space also includes an alfresco bar, the main bungalow, and different inter-connected rooms that lead one into enchantingly different spaces that cater to different moods. Shweta Kaushik, the creative director for interior design studio SKID worked on preserving the bungalow’s historical elements such as the roofing and shell windows while incorporating modern design features in order to create an inviting space for the patrons.

The candle-lit entryway

The candle-lit entryway | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A candle-lit entryway to the restaurant leading to the expansive courtyard with its leaf-impressions on the floor sets the tone for what is to follow. A grazing room is set for lazy weekend brunches while a candle room is warmly lit with electronic candles. There is a wine and cigar room, and alfresco areas on both sides of the main bungalow allow for the free flow of movement in the 125-cover restaurant. As Karrtik says, “There is a sense of luxury and comfort that comes with space.”

Barfly’s mood board

Post their success with the high-energy resto-bar Titlie at Vagator, the foursome was scouting for a place where one could put their feet up and lose track of time amidst good food and cocktails. Assagao was an easy choice of location for its easy commute and so, once they chanced upon this bungalow, Tarun set about creating a mood board for the space, prioritising robust, hearty meals served alongside quality cocktails. 

The menu boasts of tapas and sharing plates, tartines, salads, mezze

The menu boasts of tapas and sharing plates, tartines, salads, mezze | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Speaking of which, Barfly stands out amidst the plethora of resto-bars in the vicinity because not only does it have an indoor bar serving elevated classics, but there is also a one-of-a-kind agave specialty bar that serves ten signature cocktails. Says Vikram Achanta of wine and spirit consultancy Tulleeho, who has designed the beverage programme, “The production of agave-based beverages dates back to pre-Columbian times, with the creation of pulque, a fermented drink. Later, the Spanish introduced distillation techniques, leading to the creation of mezcal and tequila.”

Agave spirits, he says, have been gaining momentum in India for the past few years, similar to how gin did once upon a time. “With more and more labels becoming available in the country and the interest in craft cocktails at an all-time high, we find ourselves in a perfect storm, with increasing consumer interest and more and more bartenders increasingly reaching for agave to add complexity and depth to their drinks.”

Salad meets cocktail

Amongst the cocktails, the Caprese stands out for its take on a salad, with savoury and tart notes from cherry tomatoes, basil and Patron Reposado tequila, while the Arabica is a personal favourite for its silken sweetness delivered from a combination of Kahlua and Jose Cuervo Gold tequila. Ingredients such as blue cheese, roasted yellow bell peppers, and soy find their way in the cocktails adding a captivating twist. 

The Gimlet, a cocktail at Barfly

The Gimlet, a cocktail at Barfly | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When it comes to the food, Tarun wanted to serve clean, hearty continental dishes. The menu, created with chef Viraf Patel boasts of tapas and sharing plates, tartines, salads, mezze, and ‘catch of the day’ among others. Our compressed watermelon salad comes with a refreshing basil sorbet. The corn ribs have a secret spice rub and are super easy to grab and munch on. Panko-crusted arancino, roasted aubergine, sweet potato churros with sea salt, and grilled prawns with chorizo pepper butter are some of the other highlights as is the Chaunac with tahini miso. It is a wholesome and hearty affair, just as Tarun intended. “Everybody saw Goa booming in the last two years and opened restaurants followed by ‘me too’ restaurants which is what made us reflect and go back to basics — great food, great cocktails, and having the right team,” he says.

Barfly is at Anjuna Mapusa Rd, Saunto Vaddo, Assagao.

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