Horn Please

Saying that…

WP_20130108_002Melbourne is bereft of good Indian restaurants would be a pretty naive comment. I’m not saying they aren’t out there; its just that most are the sorts of places you’d be too embarrassed to tell your friends you frequent every Friday evening.  You know the places I’m talking about, they have the same fitted decor, same (very) basic modus operandi and are cheap as hell..

So what’s the big deal? Well, its just most struggle to really differentiate themselves. That, and the cheaper ones all share the same greasy base for all of their curries and the differences between them are so minuscule that once they’re all on your plate you’d struggle to judge the rogan from the vindaloo.

So, with this the man behind one of the newer establishments is North Indian born Jessi Singh. The fitout is playful, with art sprawled across the walls and projectors playing Bollywood’s finest as you dine.

Wonderful fitout at Horn Please

Wonderful fitout at Horn Please

It’s a breath of (tumeric infused) fresh air. It’s the sort of place you could happily spend a Friday night with a table full of friends as you work your way through the delightfully small, focused menu with some inspired classics and some lesser-known dishes (The paneer kofta springs to mind).

Vegetarian Samosas at Horn Please

Vegetarian Samosas at Horn Please

The Samosas with potatoes, peas, green mango and pomegranate with their house chilly was a wonderful start to the evening. Crisp but not overly thick outer shells and delightfully fluffy potatoes within entranced the palate and were a match made in heaven with this little Belgian Pilsner.

Estaminet Pilsner at Horn Please

Estaminet Pilsner at Horn Please

From there, the Paneer Kofta (Spiced potato and cottage cheese, garlic and garam marsala) reminisced of a take on Lebanese falafel.

Malia Kofta at Horn Please

Malia Kofta at Horn Please

Sat in a delectable curry they sure impressed.

Tandoori Chicken at Horn Please

Tandoori Chicken at Horn Please

The Tandoori Chicken was another refreshing change from norm. 2 large pieces of tender marinated chicken with accompanying chutney and again the dish was well received and enjoyed.

Slow cooked goat curry at Horn Please

Slow cooked goat curry at Horn Please

Always enjoy slow cooked meats and the goat was probably the dish of the night. Wonderfully rich, tender and juicy peaces of the hairy beast and the sauce had a serious kick to it.

Kiffer lamb and lemongrass curry at Horn Please

Kiffer lamb and lemongrass curry at Horn Please

The lamb, whilst being the weakest of the dishes we enjoyed still hit a pretty high standard and again its base curry sauce impressed with its subtle balance and spices that enchanted without overpowering the dish.

We used this opportunity to slurp up the juice with the mixed naan platter.

Mixed naan at Horn Please

Mixed naan at Horn Please

Wow. By far the most impressive naan i’ve tried in Melbourne and the plain, garlic and chive, and sesame breads swallowed more liquid than a drowning swimmer. Yet all the while it still remained wonderful with a crisp bite to the teeth with more fluff than a goose down pillow.

So, Horn Please hit all the right marks when it comes to a more upmarket Indian setting. The cost does reflect that ($130 odd for what you see above with another round of beers) but it’s the less-is-more philosophy that does it for me. The curries are subtle, not all in your face and the diversity in the menu will see you back for seconds (or thirds).

Horn Please
167 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
http://www.hornplease.com.au
Horn Please on Urbanspoon

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Geppetto’s Kew

I’ll admit…

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Sometimes,  I visit restaurants with good intentions to blog. I may forget to take notes, I may forget to take photos, I may even decide it uninteresting enough to write upon. My experience at Geppetto’s Italian Trattoria in Kew which has been open a little while now, has compelled me to come home and head straight to the keyboard.

G
eppetto’s enters a tricky market in Kew in the heart of High St where stood Retravision for many reliable years. The facade is eye-catching, and entering the polished concrete floors you are immediate confounded with the intricacies of a very modern bar and  even more profound restaurant noise. The kind of noise that only concrete floors, plenty of wood and absolutely zero sound absorbing will get you. No folks, do not consider such a venue with a prospective first dater unless you are either proficient in sign language  or like the idea of hundreds of conversations all entering your ear at the same time.Yet in we went, passed the decorative wallpaper and were sat in the rear on the second of the two levels.

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Motifs on the wall at Geppetto’s Kew

During our two hour stint, we were subjected to what would have to be not only my single worst restaurant experience in Melbourne, but I can say with confidence anywhere else on the planet. So, what made it so bad you say? Read on.

We sat down to a single drinks menu. After around 10 minutes, we decided we should ask for the food menu just in the event it slipped by our server. Lucky we did. We ordered drinks, and a short while later they arrived in time for us to order some entrees and mains. We ordered share plates of salumi misti, arancini, croquette of cod, and a wood-fired pizza. Mains were 3 serves of baby chicken and my own was a lamb ragout papperdelle.

Drinks for the night were a rather delightful Italian job washed down with a 2009 Produttori del barbaresco Nebbiolo.

Birra Theresiana at Geppetto's Kew

Birra Theresiana at Geppetto’s Kew

Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 at Geppetto's Kew

Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 at Geppetto’s Kew

So we drank our beers, and then ordered another round. Why? Because at that stage we had been waiting an hour without a single morsel of food and we were still waiting on the starters, as well as the red wine which presumably was arriving via sea vessel.

As you can see above, what arrived was the 2010. Which, it can be said, was remarkable and a real standout langhe, but the point of it all was another of my pet-hates is change of vintages. In a restaurant that has been open just about as long as it has taken me to write this blog entry, it really is inexcusable. As if that was not bad enough, when the wine did finally arrive (That is, after we reminded our server) he proceeded to simply pour it out into our glasses – Would have been nice to actually pour a little out first so someone at the table could try it. But, by that stage, we were on a roll.

Meanwhile, while our empty glasses of beer began to amass on the table, we had to collate them in a corner, as, it must be noted, was a recurrent theme on the night. Perhaps clearing tables is passé these days? As I kid you not, not a single plate, nor glass was cleared without prior request. So we asked where our starters were, to which our server promptly shrugged his shoulders and went to go check, and not a couple of minutes later they finally arrived! Except, they didn’t. What arrived were our mains. Our mains. Before the starters. Oh, but wait, here are the starters too. The kitchen thought it a good idea to serve the food not only in reverse, but almost at the same time. At that stage as the steam began to pour out my ears I heart the faint quibbles of the table across the room from us. They were complaining that one person on the table was without her main, and the rest of the table had finished theirs. I laughed, not knowing that karma has a way with people like me.

Because, you see, dear mangiabeve readers, this is the first time in tangible history I have had to wait so long for a course. 1 hour and 46 minutes, to be precise. What happened in between then? Well, the share plates came, along with the rest of the tables main, except of course mine. My mother had to bring to the attention of the restaurants owner the fact that her chicken had a lovely red elastic band in it. He didn’t know what to say, except that he was embarrassed and promptly removed the entire dish from the table. He didn’t offer to make her another, one would assume because he knew we’d probably have to stay the night there to receive it. Instead, by that stage, my frustrations almost turned to humour. I’m still expecting to feature on the latest season of punk’d.

Eventually, as we were getting ready to leave, my main did arrive. Pappardelle with lamb Ragout, lemon gremolata and pangrattato.

Pappardelle with lamb at Geppetto's Kew

Pappardelle with lamb at Geppetto’s Kew

By that stage I was so fed up I asked to speak with the owner to explain our problems. Our server upon receiving my request took a few moments to comply. I almost laughed. He actually didn’t want to call him over. It was like telling your nephew you’re going to dob him in to his mum – but eventually, a drop of the shoulders and a walk of shame later I explained my problems of the night which were put down to ‘teething’. This isn’t teething, this is the equivalent of SIDS.

So I ate my main, which honestly wasn’t that bad. What it also wasn’t, was pappardelle as you can see by the image attached. If you’re going to pride yourself on having hand cut pasta, one would think you should also understand the difference between pappardelle and mafalda.

And what of the hand cut fries we ordered? Oh, they never arrived. But you know what did? Another serve of my main – by that stage this comedy of errors had its own movie script. Hmm, a short while later another pizza and main arrived destined for another table as well. Could it have really been this bad? Funny enough the fries were considered good enough to be included on the bill.

..Which, can be said said, took an effort to obtain. Our waiter? Well, by the end of the night he was too scared to come over. Instead choosing to service the table whose waiter presumably prematurely ended his shift to vacate via the nearest bridge. When we eventually did get the bill, we were greated with 3 separate apologies from both our server, the other server and the owner. But by that stage, it was firmly game over.

So, should you visit? Sure. But don’t delay too long. Who knows what will happen in six months if this continues.

Geppetto’s Kew
http://www.kew-geppettositalian.com.au/
Geppetto on Urbanspoon