Searz Caffi, 39 Challis Street, Newport. Phone: 9399 2393
Some of our hottest meals are deeply rooted in the most whimsical decisions.
So it is tonight.
Turn left at the end of the street – that means Spotswood, Newport, Williamstown, Altona.
It’s as we’re tooling along Williamstown Road, vague notions of pizza fomenting in our minds, that inspiration strikes.
We’ve been to this Newport cafe before, but since then a friend has keenly recommended the joint’s Friday Indian-style specials.
We enjoyed our earlier visit, but so terrific is what we have during our second that we decide there is no better cafe in the west – and we are left with a serious case of dead-set envy because it’s not in OUR neighbourhood.
A big part of Searz’s appeal, for us anyway, is its Asian outlook.
So many other cafes – across the west, across Melbourne – come across as dilettantes when it comes to incorporating Asian influences and dishes into their menus.
Sometimes this results in enjoyable food – but without ever quite nailing the funky spicy factor.
There’s no such problems at Searz – a wide range of deftly handled Asian dishes and flavours are on hand and Asian-ness is the very beating heart of the place.
Take Bennie’s Thai beef salad ($14), for instance.
From our table’s vantage point, we enjoy watching this being constructed, so by the time it arrives we know exactly what’s in it and how it was done.
It’s very good – and in terms of quality, portion size and pure yumminess, leaves most equivalent dishes at your average Thai eateries behind.
I try a piece of the beef and am very impressed – it’s tender, charry, wonderful.
But his salad is definitely aced by my Friday night curry special ($20).
The mix of biryani rice, chicken curry, dal with veg, fried hardboiled egg and apple/mango chutney is simply fabulous.
And while it looks to me, at first, a little light on for the price tag, such proves most certainly to not be the case.
Best of all, each and every component displays most admirable evidence of loving preparation and determination to produce a range of individual flavours.
The boneless chicken is more South-East Asian than Indian, but is superb with its salty, smoky seasoning.
All the rest is every bit as interesting and delicious.
By now, we’re having such a grand time we decide to indulge in dessert.
There’s two on the blackboard – we order both.
Banana nutella tart with banana fritter and chocolate mousse (above) and …
… peach and raspberry croustade with creme fraiche ice-cream and peach/rum coulis are both orgasmic and have Bennie and I doing our usual oooh-ing, aaah-ing, swooning and eye-rolling when presented with such finery.
These are the sorts of sweet treats we would normally only expect in more formal – and expensive – settings.
It seems only fitting in a sort of synchronicity way that the pal who tipped us to the excellence of Friday nights at Searz – Daniel of Woven and Container Cafe fame – turns up with his crew as we’re embarking on dessert.