Melbourne 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.
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).
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.
From there, the Paneer Kofta (Spiced potato and cottage cheese, garlic and garam marsala) reminisced of a take on Lebanese falafel.
Sat in a delectable curry they sure impressed.
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.
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.
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.
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).
167 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North