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Manjits at the Wharf – King St. Darling Harbour

Been procrastinating about this one for a while as a few of the team are familiar with the sister establishment at Balmain but given the bunch of wino soaks we are, always put off by the no BYO option. Anyway glad we did because this place is bloody awesome.

Manjits

Ambience
Located amongst the trendy hip establishments of King Street Wharf and offering a splendid view over darling harbour Manjits offers a most excellent setting. Upon entry you are met with a formidable floor to ceiling wine display containing some top shelf plonk, which got the teams attention and some discussion around the need to check limits on credit cards. We are greeted politely and shown to our table. The decor and vibe is high-end classy and the excitement mounts in anticipation for a promising evening. Its early Friday evening and we are one of the first party of customers – but the place soon gets busy with a mix of after work types and tourists alike. The girls-night-out on the next table had us strutting around like contestants on batchelorette. I let slip to the waiter I am an international curry blogger and it just gets better and better……

Service
Friendly, professional and attentive. The waiter answers our many questions and explains recommendations and dishes with confident knowledge.The dishes arrive promptly and with aplomb….

Food.
Modern, innovative Indian Cuisine. Our selections below -all outstanding.
Entrees: Gol Gol Gappa –  Crisp pastry filled with spiced chickpea and potato, served with tamarind and amchur caviar. Amritsari Machhli – Fish fillets marinated with garlic, ginger, red chilli, tamarind and coriander; coated in chickpea batter and shallow fried until crisp. Bharrah Kebab – Lamb cutlets marinated with yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice and red spices.

Mains: Mums Goat Curry – Traditional home style cooked goat curry, with a gravy of browned onions, ginger, garlic, black cardamom and cassia bark. Baingan Takatak – Smoke-roasted baby eggplant mashed with onion, tomato and chilli prepared on the traditional “tawa” hotplate. Kaju Ki Sabzi – A preparation of cashew nuts sautéed with mixed spices, served with caramelized onion. Malai Kofta. Dal Khushbadar. Roti (no butter, no oil) 

Deserts: Deconstructed Shahi Tookra – A modern twist on a royal Mughal bread pudding, with crunchy bread topped with a creamy saffron milk reduction, and dusted with nuts. Rasmalai – milk dumplings, soaked in a saffron & cardamom milk reduction served with ground pistachio.

Standout dishes: Amritsari Machhli, Kaju Ki Sabzi (just delicious) and Shahi Tookra.

Wine.
No BYO but an impressive wine list. These guys look after their wine and we are offered various levels of ‘Airation’ – a nice touch.
2014 S.C. Pannell Tempranillo Touriga
2013 Clos Clare ‘Cemetery Block’ Shiraz

Value.
A touch pricey at around $100 per head including wine but great value and worth every penny.

Overall Score: 9/10 – Great food, great service, great setting. We don’t give a nine easily – but this place deservedly so. The best joint we have visited to date.

http://manjits.com.au/

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Harbour Indian – Millers Point

After all the whinging about our expedition out west to Harris Park we settled on something a little closer to home for this outing , so up Kent Street to the Harbour Indian nestled under the iconic Observatory Tower. Now this particular establishment is quite new – opening just last January  and with previous occupants of this lease (a brasserie, wine bar, restaurant) not lasting too long,  we thought best to get in quick. But not as quick so as to forgo a cleansing ale at the Lord Nelson pub beforehand.

curry

Ambience
Tucked away under Observatory Tower the unassuming exterior opens into an open and airy interior with a  lush, colorful  and slightly kitsch contemporary decor, much to our liking. Looks like this business is still finding its feet so not overly populated for  a Friday night but nicely busy with a few occupied tables and a quiet and genteel vibe. A bit cold with the A/C on full tilt – maybe just our table.

Service
Very friendly, courteous and welcoming. The service a  little sporadic at times but the waiter(s) are knowledgeable and willing to make recommendations, answer our many questions, tolerate our debilitating indecision and graciously accept our feedback at the end of the evening.

Food
A pretty standard (bit dull?) menu with all the usual dishes. We started with mixed entree – Onion Bhaji, Seekh Kebab,Tandoori Octopus, Samosa and Tandoori Chicken. All tasty and nicely spiced. For the mains – Bhuna Goat (of course), Kadai Panner (paneer and tomato based spicy gravy laced with spices), Goan Prawn. Malai Kofta and Lamb Rogan Josh. Roti (No butter). Various usual deserts. All the food appropriately spiced but a couple of the dishes (Bhaji, Kofta) a bit flourry and undercooked.

Wine
BYO and advertised as licenced – but not actually licenced at time of writing, so unable to partake in a beer. A petty pet niggle of ours is lack of decent size wine glasses, as is the case here. Kent St Cellars just round the corner if you need a top up.
Great BYO this time out:
2014 Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz Cabernet Merlot (voluptuous, mouth-filling)
2013 Brash Higgins ‘SHZ’ Shiraz
2014 Massena the twilight path (zippy, fresh, fruity and gorgeous)

Value
Standard at around $50 per head for three courses.

Overall Score
7.5/10

A good night out, welcoming and friendly staff, a convenient location and decent if not fabulous food. Just need to get that licence sorted and turn down the air-con. I hope this place goes the distance.

www.harbourindian.com.au

Not Just Curries – Harris Park

It’s been a while – and after much debate and at the behest of our culinary guru the team are venturing out of the city to sample the delights of the Wild West to Harris Park. It’s the Australia day weekend and we meet up for cleansing ale at The Lord Nelson before a tortuous journey up the M2 to Parramatta. We eventually make it to Wigram Street (or little India) which accommodates numerous establishments offering a variety of Indian specialities and cuisines. The team have a leisurely walk around and mingle with the wide variety of punters and inhale the cultural sensualities that this destination offers.

group

Ambience
We receive a warm welcome at our chosen restaurant and step inside to find an open, light and airy establishment already buzzing with Friday night custom. It’s loud and busy with a mix of clientele ranging from large family groups to solo diners.

Service
Attentive, friendly and efficient.  The staff appear to be knowledgeable and are happy to make recommendations and discuss our choices. The dishes arrive promptly. The manager notices that we are reviewing the food and we mention that a couple of the main courses lack a little spice and flavour – he accepts the feedback with courtesy and arranges to correct and provide take-a way replacement dishes at no extra charge. Overall excellent service – especially given it’s a flat out busy Friday night.

Food
Indian with a Chinese twist. The team agree that the starters are the best we have ever had. We highly recommend the Gobi Manchurian (Cauliflower) – simply delicious. Other entrées include Dahi Puri (Chaat Balls with a filling of potatoes, chickpeas chutney and yoghurt), Adraki (lamb chops) and Chicken Manchurian – all excellent and flavoursome. For mains we had Goan Fish Curry, Goat Curry (our benchmark), Malai Kofta and Bhindi Do Pyaza (Okra). Lashings of Roti (no butter). As mentioned above the Goat and Fish were lacking a little in the flavour and spiciness we were expecting. The vegetarian dishes were good. We chose Mango Ice-cream and Kulfi for dessert. The standout dishes were the Cauliflower and Kofta.

curry

Wine
BYO with a limited house list. $2 per head corkage.
2010 Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Corrina’s Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon (a favourite)
2014 A.C. Byrne Co Mclaren Vale Shiraz – from the house list.

Value
Good at $60 per head for three courses and a bottle of wine.

Overall Score 8.0 /10 – Great service, excellent starters, let down a tad by the mains.

A great evening had by all, a fantastic experience more than just the food.

http://www.notjustcurries.com.au/

….and while we were there popped round the corner to sample some Betel Nut Paan – some weird Indian hallucinogenic digestive that turns your teeth red. A bit trippy but surprisingly pleasant…..

paan

Abhi’s – North Strathfield

A chilly winter Friday evening and the team hit the road and adventure out west and outside our city comfort zone to dine at the oft-recommended Abhi’s in North Strathfield. A quick medicinal drinkie at the York Bar behind Wynyard Station and off we go amid much whinging and debate on the best Sydney Rail Timetable App. Abhi’s is a brisk five minute walk from North Strathfield station located on Concord Road sandwiched between a bottle shop and a pharmacy.

abhi

Ambience
First impressions are of a warm and inviting eatery with a tasteful contemporary decor and vibe. It’s a Friday night and the place is already busy and gets loud and bustling as the evening progresses. We are ushered upstairs and find ourselves in the large and well appointed dining area that mainly caters for groups. Maybe not the place for an intimate romantic dinner for two on a weekend. Good mix of clientele covering a wide demographic and cultures, groups and families.

Service
Cheerful and friendly young staff provide an excellent level of service and seem happy to discuss dishes and answer our queries and questions despite the place being chockers. Dishes arrived in good time if not promptly but not really an issue given the place is packed.
 
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Food
Not a samosa in sight! – a clever fusion of traditional Indian favorites with a contemporary twist.  Portions not big so a couple of re-orders required. Started with a selection of Entrees including Palak Patta Chat (lentil-battered spinach leaves coated in three sauces – date and tamarind, chilli, and mint), Bhaji Rolls, Seekh Kebab. The chat was voted the best we have tasted yet. Form mains – Goat Curry (our base line dish), Madras Prawns, Chicken Varutha, Kadhal Paneer (Cheese), Ennal Kathrikal (eggplant). All considered to be tasty and excellent – with the stand outs being the prawn and vegetarian dishes. However the surprise of the night was the lusciously presented and fabulously delicious deserts including Double Ka Meetha (highly recommended Indian Bread Pudding – below), Rose Kulfi and Gulab jamun. Overall the best Ruby we have tasted for a while.

IMG_0402

Wine
$3 byo corkage per person for wine below. Excellent and comprehensive in house wine list.
2013 Lovers Not Toreadors Tempranillo (Spanish)
2012 Sevenhill Inigo Shiraz
2013 Murray Street Black Label Cabernet

Value
A little pricey at $60 per head but considered good value for the standard of fare offered.

Overall Score 8.25/10

A great night out – tasty interesting dishes, busy contemporary vibe and attentive service. And those sumptuous deserts……

www.abhisindian.com.au

The Colonial, Leichhardt

We seem to have a bit of a penchant for the Colonial of late as we find ourselves in Norton Street heading for an establishment touted as a purveyor of ‘British Indian’ Cuisine. And talking of  repressed colonials a quick stop off at PJ Gallaghers Irish Pub for pre-dinner drinkies and a most excellent pint of Kilkenny’s red ale.

colonial

Ambience
Located on busy Norton Street the Colonial looks inviting with promise of Tapas??, cocktails and a dining garden. Inside we find a contemporary, understated but pleasant enough decor as we are ushered upstairs to a table overlooking the balcony. From what I observed the garden was more yard than Indian oasis.  The place was strangely deserted for a Friday night  and we had the upstairs to ourselves for most of the evening – the locals must be all be at home eating mamas lasagna.

Service
Friendly enough, some may say discreet and unobtrusive, others bloody slow – especially considering the place was almost empty.

Food
Started with various mixed platters (vegetarian, non-vegetarian, seafood) not overly generous portions but tasty. For mains we ordered Aloo Gobhi Masala, Malai Kofta, Railway Goat Curry, Lamb Jalfrezi, Jhinga Jalfrezi (prawns) and Daal Makhani all washed down with lashings of Roti. Rasmalai (a milk pudding)and Kulfi for desert. The feeling overall was that the food was tasty but a little bland and lacking a bit of heat / zing. Favorite dishes included Aloo Gobhi, the lamb and Rasmalai .

 Wine
$2.73 byo corkage per person for wine below. Limited in house wine list.
2009 Casa Santos Lima Quinta Das Setencostas – a fruity Portuguese quaffer
2008 Bloodwood Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Corrina’s Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon  – Complex and divine
2011 Audrey Wilkinson Shiraz

Value
Standard at around $45 per head for three courses plus all the fixin’s

Overall Score
7/10

Colonial2

Not a bad but not an outstanding dining experience. A good drop in if not a dining destination.

www.thecolonialrestaurant.com.au

Rangoon Colonial Club Restaurant, Crows Nest

The team has significantly downsized of late and proving difficult to co-ordinate the diaries of the Executive members, hence the hiatus in curry consumption. Anyway on with the pith helmets and off to a favorite from pre-blog way back, the Rangoon Colonial Club Restaurant, Crows Nest.

PS: We are now open for membership. Drop us a line if interested.

Rangoon

Ambience
Ahhh its good to be back ….Welcome to the era of the British Raj. A step into this place transforms the world around you. You are presented with the luxuriant surroundings and cuisine pleasures enjoyed by the Royals during the British Raj.The golden aesthetics of the environment, the hush of the palm trees and lull of the contextual melody plunge you into a realm of dining ecstasy………..  I tried to explain the merits of British Colonial rule to my companions, all to no avail.

Service
Friendly, efficient and attentive. Altogether pleasant. Food served efficiently and promptly on this early Friday evening.

Food
Mixed platter entree to start – lovely.The Guru’s  rate this as the best place for Goat Curry so two Sultan’s Goat Curries are ordered along with Daal Makhini  and a rather overly-sweet Prawn Malibu (its the closest thing to butter chicken I can get away with). Lashings of Roti (graciously supplied with no-butter). The Goat and Daal both superb. Desert to finish – Fig Kulfi from memory?. Nice.

Wine
BYO as always despite a fairly impressive in-house selection.
2010 Torbreck The Steading GSM
2008 Bloodwood Cabernet Sauvignon.
both superb…

Value
Standard / good at around $55 per head for three courses

Overall Score
8.0/10

Great surroundings, Great Food, Great Company. What more could you ask for? (apart from Butter Chicken)

www.rangooncolonial.com.au

Blu Ginger, McMahons Point.

Following a  slow start to the new year the executive members of the team find themselves at Blu Ginger at McMahons Point. A pleasant summer’s evening so it’s another stroll across the bridge to Milsons Point and down trendy Blues Point Road.

BluGinger1

Ambience
For some reason we arrived considerably early for our booking  but welcomed nonetheless and chose a table in the cool interior  rather than an  alfresco setting out front. A small venue but a clean and contemporary decor – no faux Taj-mahal feel about this place. We are the first to arrive but being a Friday evening the place soon gets buzzing with after work diners, locals and families. It’s a small venue – so gets a bit intimate and a lot loud.

Service
Friendly, attentive in a restrained discreet manor. Food served efficiently and promptly.

Food
The menu has a North Indian bent and for entrée we shared a Tandoori Platter and a Blu Ginger Platter, both excellent with the Lamb Cutlets and  Fish banana leaf the stand outs. For mains we chose the Desi Chicken (not as spicy as could have been), Goat Curry, Aloo Matar Paneer and Dahl Tadka. The vegetarian dishes were both good with the Dahl voted the best we can remember having. Things went a bit downhill with desert with the most garish fake green Pistachio Ice Cream ever seen.

BluGinger 2

Wine
BYO as always with a pretty average in house wine list.
2009 Renaissance Zinfandel (Fruity)
2011 Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz

Value
Standard at around $55 per head for three courses, beers and coffee for a table of four.

Overall Score
7.0/10

Overall a pleasant if not outstanding dining experience, good service and bustling vibe.

www.bluginger.com.au