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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

Gulatis Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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