Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne, 551 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9394 2200
In its now near decade-old life, Consider The Sauce has gone through various cycles and obsessions.
For instance, a few years back, we were all over Somalian food and the Flemington outlets and lovely people who provide it.
Not that we’ve turned our back on Somalian food – Bennie and I had a super feed at Mama’s Cuisine just last week.
But in terms of CTS stories, it’s fair to say our focus has moved.
Likewise with Indian food and restaurants, especially those in West Footscray – was a time when we seemed to be methodically ticking of the Barkly Street eateries on a weekly basis.
So it’s good to be back – with CTS A Team member Bennie Weir and Nat Stockley in tow.
We’re here at the invitation of Santhosh Xaveir, proprietor of Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne (see full disclosure below).
And we’re in familiar surroundings – the premises were formerly a dosa place and, before that, those of Hyderabad Inn, which was written about by CTS on several occasions and was the venue for the first-ever CTS Feast.
This Bawarchi is tied in terms of nomenclature and branding to a parent company/chain with many restaurants in the US.
I had presumed, though, this would not extend the Melbourne branch’s kitchen and menu.
I am wrong, according to Santhosh – the Melbourne restaurant duplicates, or tries to, the food at all the other branches.
Is this an issue?
I don’t think so – such standardisation gets dicey and worse when junk food unfood is involved.
And so we eat – choosing an array of dishes of the wide-ranging Bawarchi menu.
We start with vegetable hot and sour soup ($6.50).
Like all such soups in Indian places with Indo-Chinese food, this is loosely based on the chicken/corn soup style found in Chinese eateries, though this one is more runny, less viscous.
It’s good – but what does surprise us is the heat level.
This is too spicy – mostly from pepper, we suspect – even for us three experienced chilli fans.
Staying in Indo-Chinese mode, we try gobi Manchurian ($10.50) – deep-fried cauliflower.
Bennie and I like this a bunch, Nat less so.
There’s just enough crunch in the vegetable coating, after being doused in the tangy sauce, to keep dad and son happy.
A sizzler platter of chicken tikka kebab ($17) is also good, though a bit on the dry side.
Another sizzler platter – this time of tandoori pomfret ($32) – is the undoubted hit of the night, full and positive proof of the ugly-but-good theory.
Actually, better than good.
There’s a heap of fish flesh in there on both top and bottom of the bones – and it’s all firm yet far from dry, with an earthy, trout-like flavour.
As is often the case, the shredded cabbage into which the juices of the tandoori chicken and fish have dripped, is a nice, delicious bonus.
Two garlic naan ($3.50) are superb – hot, fresh and glistening with melted ghee.
Finally, given the name of the place and our three-way fondness for biryani, we have to make sure the rice is nice.
Gongura goat dum biryani ($16.50) is fine, with all the bits and pieces in place – goat on the bone, tender enough and coated in sorrel; good, darkish rice; half a hard-boiled egg; gravy and raita.
Check out the Bawarchi Biryanis Melbourne – including menu – here.
(Consider The Sauce dined at Bawarchi as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Bawarchi management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story. Does anyone actually read this stuff?)