Biryani House, 61 Gordon St, Footscray. Phone: 9318 8007
No prizes for guessing this new Gordon St venture is a sister restaurant for the well-known King St, CBD, place of the same name.
It joins two other restaurants and a grocery in fostering a mini-Indian precinct on this stretch of Gordon St.
The new Biryani House is a nice room but very plain – wooden tables and chairs, some swirly wallpaper that looks like an optical illusion on one side and not much more.
We’re told that in the meantime aside from all-week dinner hours, lunch is served Thursday through to Sunday. More week-day lunch hours may eventuate next year when the students – and there’s heaps of them hereabouts – return for a new academic year.
We’re tickled to find the menu starts with a list of “Aussie Favourites” – butter chicken, lamb rogan josh, lamb vindaloo and lamb madras.
Righto, now we’ve got them out of the way, let’s see what points of difference there are in the rest of the menu … and we find some crackers, ensuring an interesting meal and a hasty return.
Just for instance …
Khichdi – “traditional Hyderabad rice with lentils”.
Nehari – “a spicy soup made with tender lamb shanks garnished with fried onions and fresh grown herbs”.
Marag soup – “a fine soup delicacy made from tender chunks of lamb”.
Kahtti dal – “a lentil stew in tangy juice of tamarind”.
And so on … but we start with gobi 65 ($8.50, top picture).
It’s more austere than the same-titled dish we’ve had elsewhere – just some curry leaves and battered cauliflower, but golly it’s very good.
The thin batter is a crispy treat and the vegetable pieces totally moreish.
And we really, really appreciate it when the natural flavours of a dish come through despite high levels of seasoning, especially with a mild flavour such as cauliflower.
We squabble over who’s going to get the biggest pieces.
Another big plus at this place – almost all the chicken and lamb dishes are available in half-serves, $5.90 instead of $9.
This enables us to have a broader meal than would otherwise be the case, and we find our two half serves none too shabby in the size department at all.
Hariyali chicken is described as “a popular festive dish of chicken simmered in a unique blend of fresh green herbs and peppercorns”.
What appear to be juicy chunks of thigh meat swim in a rich sauce that has the green of the herbs and a wonderful slow burn of heat that glows from the use of much pepper.
Lamb aloo methi, “cooked with potatoes and touch of fenugreek leaves”, is good, too, with tender lamb and a colour splash from the fenugreek leaves, though it seems to us it’s not as distinctive as our chicken dish.
The potato element is awesome.
Both of these dishes are at the outer limit of spiciness that Bennie finds tolerable.
For bread, we choose lacha paratha (2.50), which we are told is just plain dough that is folded very many times.
Our lovely buttery bread does indeed have a croissant-like flakiness, and it goes real well at its main task – mopping up the last of our curry gravies.
Check out the full menu at the Biryani House website.