Sunday, August 08, 2010

Indya Bistro (Nth Carlton) 08/2010

I am not generally very enthusiastic about Indian food and in the normal course of events would never have dined at a small shop front eatin/take away suburban restaurant offering modern Indian cuisine almost 20 Km from home. This might be because of a near fatal dysentery episode when I visited India many years ago. Since then, unfortunately, the 20 kilo I lost have been returned with interest.
My attention was drawn to Indya Bistro by an unsolicited email. We must be famous now (joke) so we keep getting invitations to places we've never heard of. Usually we just turn up some time, incognito, take a few pic's and do our thing. Here we made an exception because it seemed unlikely that we would be back and there were only the two of us. We wanted to try a wide range of dishes. Instead of the usual couple of entrees and main dishes so I asked if we could try a wide range of small entrees and mains. After consulting Chef Wilson Gomes our waiter Ghasem offered us seven entrees, six mains and four side dishes.
if you think that was a lot to eat you're right.
Chicken Tikka, tandoori grilled infused with aromatic spices and Sheekh Kebab also from the tandoori oven with aromatic spiced sauce came first with small bowls of chutney and yoghurt sauce
The tandoori flavour was quite delicate blending with the light spices which were very mild with no chili detectable. This was followed by Gobi Honey Garlic Cauliflower florets
tossed in honey and garlic sauce. Again the sauce was not overwhelming the garlic not evident at all. Next was a spicy potato patty with mint and tamarind chutney, Spicy Aloo Tikki.
Again a dish marked by delicacy in the handling of the spices which turned out to be a major feature of every thing we ate. This was accompanied by a Veggie Samosa with a fine crisp pastry. A serve of Onion Bhaj, onion fritters in a lightly spiced chick pea batter,
crisp and moorish, was followed with four slices of Chicken Tikkam Kulcha, the chicken being stuffed into soft naan bread.
This mini chicken sandwich was pleasant enough but made very little impression on me.
Mains were served in small china boats. They were well covered in their sauces and were also accompanied by plenty of basmati rice. Malai Kofta, a potato, cheese and nut dumpling in a creamy nut sauce, Butter Chicken in a tomato and fenugreek sauce were the first mains
quickly followed by a Paneer and Spinach Delight.
The spinach was remarkable in that all the elements of the dish, especially the spinach, could be tasted.
Every thing served was meltingly tender too. Chicken Korma in a rich cashew nut sauce and two lamb dishes, a marinated lamb curry and a Lamb Chettinad a south Indian dish with crushed pepper corns and aromatic coconut curries were very fine. All these dishes looked very similar except for a little variation in their colour and decoration. Sauces were all creamy, of good consistency, neither to lose nor to thick, an their tastes refined.Nothing dominated, there was no excess heat in the dishes and my palate was intact for the last course, Fish Pondicherry,
which was a nice piece of barramundi with curry leaves, mustard seeds covered in a rich curry sauce. We had three more breads in the course of the meal. an Amritsari Kulcha, stuffed (but hardly stuffed( with spices, peas and potatoes, a Kashmiri naan, which was sweet, stuffed with nuts, raisins and coconut and a plain naan.
Neither stuffed nor filled properly describes the minimal contents of the naans. It was sufficient to produce a distinctive flavour but that was about all. Finally a very good house made Kulfi completed the meal.
Food is served on good white china, bare tables are adorned with modest quality cutlery and white linen napkins. the room is small, seats around 26 patrons with a similar size room upstairs for functions or overflow. Decor is simple and unobtrusive.

When we arrived at 7.30 on Sunday night it was undeservedly near empty and completely so when we left a couple of hours later. Service was informed, friendly and prompt. Licenced or BYO they have a small inexpensive list with a small range by the glass. ($7-$9).
Most entrees are $7, breads $5 and mains about $17 to $19. For this very substantial meal we paid $132.
There must be 1000 restaurants between my home and 643 Rathdowne St. but if I lived in the area I would certainly come here. No doubt if you want it hot they will make it that way but we thoroughly enjoyed being able to taste these fine dishes without tears. Indya Bistro is worth a visit and we recommend it.
Score: 15/20


Elliot said...

I have just read a few bloggers reviews (Where's the beef and I eat therefore I am) of Indya and the varied range of comments.
I found it most interesting to read that they employ a publicist. With two chefs, a dish washer a waiter and six customers they certainly need more publicity because it is a worthwhile addition to Melbourne's culinary scene.

Elliot said...

I should add, as I commented on where's the beef that I was not influenced by 'competing interests', paid for my meal and had not read any of the reviews at that time. Whilst I would not rave about the cauliflower florettes in all they served an extremely good meal and if I lived nearby I would have no hesitation about returning, or recommending it to friends.
I would add that take away is the worst way to judge a restaurant, even the food.
I wish Indya all the best and hope they can survive the Melbourne restaurant jungle.

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

I love a good curry and the food in your pictures looks excellent. I'll have to go to Indya next time I'm in Melbourne.

Elliot and Sandra said...

Hi Spencer,
I should mention that, although I'm sure the can make them hot, all their dishes were extremely mild so it was possible to taste all the ingredients

banksy canvas said...

What a great post, the food looks amazing! Thank you for reviewing this and sharing!

Elliot and Sandra said...

Hi Banksy
So many restaurants now serve super attractive loohing meals but this really was good to eat as well as to look at!