If you are visiting port Blair’s Cellular Jail, stop over if your expectations are moderate.
An evocative name like the New Lighthouse sits uncomfortably on an unpretentious structure without walls and a flat asbestos roof. A hexagonal temporary structure and an adjacent staircase attached to it struggle to justify the name. But the location is terrific: between the Cellular Jail and the swimming complex in Port Blair, right at the entrance to the aquarium.
The best thing about the New Lighthouse is the appetizing smell of frying fish that welcomes a customer. It is an open kitchen laid along the serving area. On display at the entrance are live crabs. Choose one for Rs 400 to 500. Lobsters are also on offer : Rs 700 for 300 gms.
The plastic tables have table clothes you would be happier without. Broken plastic chairs and tables are stacked on the side. The wash basin needs cleaning and repairing. You wouldn’t mind the sparrows, but not the flies. Tip: take a table with a ceiling fan above it. As you wait for your food, you can watch the tableau in the kitchen and enjoy the smell of Chinese food getting fried – the Orchestra of ginger, garlic, onion and oil. The fish curry I ordered, to go with parotas, had the visible participation of red chili and green chilies. It had tomatoes to give it body and tang, with ginger playing in the background. It was a hybrid dish with Oriental influence but overall acceptable. I was advised to try their barbecues at dinner but did not have a chance to do so.
The staircase leads to a beer bar where beer sells for Rs 100, which is high for excise-fee-less Andamans, but visitors do not know that. And the owner knows that. So Rs 100 works, and no hassles of finding change
Take the New Lighthouse as a seafront eatery that specializes in seafood. It is the best option in that territory.