Review: At Linda’s Place, Mauritius
At Linda's Place, Mauritius: Casual Home-Style Eating
At Linda's Place, 1 starter, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 cocktails, 1 beer: MUR1800 ($US50, £42, AED185). Route Royal Calodyne Mauritius Grand Gaube, Mauritius. +230 5910 4999. https://www.facebook.com/lindas.calodyne/
Eclectic dining decor assembled from multiple guest gifts
Andy the rum sommelier, his rum passion and his rum ice cream dessert
Casual dining atmosphere
May be too casual for some
At Linda's Place: Get Out Your Hotel & Go Home To Eat
It is partially misleading to call At Linda’s Place a restaurant is partially misleading. The word “restaurant” feels formal. Perhaps it is why we started to see places reach for the thesaurus in search of familiarity, warmth and democratising our want to go out to eat. Michelin chefs pivoted away from their stars to a new constellation of options opening a ‘social’, a gastropub, a townhouse, an eatery etc.
It is a subtle nuance that releases or bolt cults preconceptions and certain expectations that a ‘restaurants’ conjures.
- heavy, luxurious velvet draft shielding curtains
- menus written solely in a foreign language
- biblically long wine menus
- cutlery table settings resembling a sterilised surgical tray
You get the point right? Yet, maybe ‘restaurant’ is the right word. I looked up the definition of a restaurant. “Restaurant” is derived from a French word that means “to restore”. And to that extent, At Linda’s Place brings its diners back full circle to where it all began, for many of us, who love food and eating. We are here at a mother’s table in front of the kitchen.
It is easy to fall lovingly into the quaintness of At Linda’s Place. You enjoy it, you wonder for a minute if you are in the right place. Apprehension is not far behind and, eventually, I acquiesced just deciding that, if nothing else, it would be an experience.
The restaurant-meet-living room space is liberally decorated with crafts and souvenirs gifted by customers. You could be forgiven into believing this was the Swiss consulate with the number of Swiss flags. We learned that Linda was born in Switzerland so these flags regularly appear as offerings to the chef.
At Linda's Place: Let’s get down to the food
Our host for the evening is Linda’s son: Andy. He walks us through the menu dish by dish. It’s a tale of two hemispheres up north is Creole and the south is international. However, not everything is available today. Our host tells us Linda will only prepare the curried fish if a certain type of fish is available in the market; today was not our day. Some will snub this idea and, in other places, I would feel the same. This somehow feeds into my acceptance that these things happen and, instead, I am assured.
A broad selection of flavoured rums lay on a shoe rack. Our host, Andy, is to rum what Bubba was to shrimp making both me and Mrs EatGoSee his devout Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan. He talks with experience and to a level of detail about local rum that shows more than just a passing interest. It’s a clear passion reflected in everything from bottles and infusions. He talks about successes, failures, trials and tribulations. We sample his Banana and Haribo rum (no typo) before the arrival of our mains. We would sample this again in his one dessert on the menu.
Our crumbed prawn starters arrive thick in a rough golden crust that cracks with each bite. It is paired with two chilli sauces: one closely resembling a Thai sweet chilli and the second is a citrusy lemon chilli sauce. The latter is one of the son’s creations as he talks us through the process; apparently this type of local lemon is a tricky business to work with. The starters are home-style, enjoyable and simple.
The mains of butter chicken and curried chicken both arrive with rice with sides of black lentils and homemade apple chutney with turmeric. It’s another home-style dish with generous portions: the curried leg of chicken is a hearty yellow curry. The butter chicken is boneless (if you prefer meat without bones), mild and without the third ring of hell spice that sometimes plagues this dish. There are too many curry houses worldwide that channel Scovilles through butter chicken in some gastronomic test of masculinity; this is more reserved but delivers on creaminess and overall flavour.
After a long, enjoyable discussion about the comparative rum-making methods of Mauritian and Trinidadian rum, we review the dessert options and settle on the only dessert Andy is allowed on the menu: vanilla ice cream with a healthy dose of mixed spiced fruit submerged into one of his handcrafted rums…. for the last six years. We obviously opted for this option. An assertive punch of alcohol is cooled with the milky ice cream leaving behind the sweet tartness of the fruit in the balance. You are left with a reminiscent Christmas pudding flavour but without the cake (gluten-friendly perhaps? Don’t quote me).
Would I return here?
I regularly go to restaurants on my own so I fully appreciate engaging staff. The warm atmosphere means you can come on your own, with a partner or friend especially if you like to chat with people and get to know everyone. The couple adjacent to us also became part of the conversations. You could come here with a group of friends slumped in the bar drinking homemade rum and talking to Andy all night (allowing him to get food out to people).
This is not the best food you will ever have but it is not trying to be either. At Linda’s Place is a much-welcomed departure from the meticulously manicured Mauritius. It is a grounded eatery putting the family back into a family restaurant. There are enough fine dining restaurants throughout Mauritius. At Linda’s Place highlights that, sometimes, it is nice to be welcomed home.