Gulati’s, 23 Harrington Square, Altona. Phone: 9315 9655
The process of stumbling upon Gulati’s had been an unusual one.
Reading online news stories about a shocking, brutal incidence of urban violence, on one level my mind had been in something akin to shock.
On another, it had been asking questions: “Book shop? Harrington Square? Altona? What?”
Some quick twiddling with Google maps soon verified the whereabouts of an Altona nook on which we’d never laid eyes.
More quick twiddling – this time with street view – allowed me to play cyber rubbernecker.
Ambling around the square with my mouse, I soon gazed upon the book shop in question.
And right next door – Oh, yes! – was an Indian restaurant.
A few weeks later, and I am standing in the car park of Harrington Square, a medium-to-small suburban shopping precinct.
Book shop? Check. Indian restaurant? Check.
Even better, on the other side of the eatery is a Thai joint, while another of Indian persuasion lies across the square.
Gulati’s itself is quite different from the cheap eats/takeaway shack I had in my mind’s eye.
In fact, it’s quite chic and a pleasant space to spend some time in.
Gawd – there’s even cloth napkins!
(This is usually taken by us a symbol of fine dining …)
This means I’ll be spending more than had been anticipated when setting out on my eat-and-run Saturday night adventure.
But what the hey – I figure a low-key Kenny treat is definitely in order.
The service is friendly but a little on the slow side to begin with – but that’s OK; it is early in the evening.
Gulati’s is pretty much a straight-up suburban Indian eatery with all the usuals, including tandoori goodies, and none of your dosas or Indo-Chinese options.
Meat/fish mains cost $12, vegetable mains $9.50.
I break my own “plain naan only” rule by ordering onion kulcha ($3) and am really happy to have done so.
The small onions pieces add a sweetness and complexity to a very good piece of bread that has a nice chewiness to it.
Machere jhol ($12), described as “fish cooked with eggplant – a taste of Bengal”, is marvellous.
There’s a goodly number of small, boneless and firm but beautifully cooked cutlets of what I subsequently discover is rockling mixing it with tender, delicious chunks of eggplant.
I later discover online numerous versions of this Bengali recipe, but there are so many variations I find it hard to discern any single theme.
And none that I find include the mustard seeds that provide such a fine pop and texture to the lovely and apparently unoily curry gravy of my dish.
My plain rice ($2.50) is OK, the raita ($3) thick and creamy and with scant cucumber quotient.
As I wrap up a most enjoyable dinner, Gulati’s has become companionably busy with locals.
I envy them having this place as a local.
In the meantime, I’ll have to return on another day to peruse the book shop.
Given the scarcity of book shops in the west, I’m excited by the prospect