Tandoori Flames


Tandoori Flames, 15 Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone: 9078 2769

“So very disappointing, the place seemed to be full of family.”

This line from a recent diner’s comment about a new Yarraville eatery springs immediately to mind while we are enjoying our dinner at Tandoori Flames in South Kingsville.

Look, I know there’s horses for courses when it comes to restaurants, and that some folks like a quiet time.

Others are looking for a romantic vibe.

Others, too, don’t dig kids cluttering up cafes … and others again think flat-screen TVs have no place in any kind of eating establishment at all.

I’m sure it’s possible to have a quiet time at Tandoori Flames and even a romantic dinner, if that’s to your liking.

But based on this Father’s Day evening, you’d probably aim for a night earlier in the week.

By the time we’re halfway through our meal, the place is packed and the staff are very busy.

Even better, a passel of kids – half of them in-house variety, half of them customer offspring – are cavorting merrily all over the place and even playing tag between the tables.

No one minds.

No one cares.

No food is spilt.

Everyone is happy – including us!

And I see just a single admonishment issued to the young man who is the senior member of the group – something along the lines of, “Keep it down a little, eh?”, I presume.

I had earlier asked this character, who was polishing cutlery with his sister, how much he was getting paid.

His reply was instantaneous and emphatic:

“I don’t get paid – this is my restaurant!”

This would be Harnoor, son of Tandoori Flames proprietor Jimmy – and we’ll let them settle the ownership details.

We’re here as Jimmy’s guests (full disclosure below).

We were always going to make it to Tandoori Flames at some point, but his email spurred us into action – yes, we’d love to join the throng for Father’s Day dinner.

Jimmy tells me he and his crew have been at these premises for five years and that previous to that the building housed, variously, a Yugoslav social establishment, a sports club and a gay/lesbian hangout called My Sisters Lounge.

The interior is quite different from what I am expecting.

An irregularly-shaped room, plain brick walls, exposed beams, chandeliers, dancefloor and even a disco ball.

It’s funky and welcoming and we feel right at home.

As we enter, the band is cranking out – much to my surprise – a rowdy version of Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

After that, they throttle back for wide-ranging mix of soul and pop covers that sit right well with the crowd – by the time we leave, the dancefloor is doing good business.

In his email, Jimmy had stated: “I would love to serve you with our speciality items …”

So we take the bold option of leaving our meal in his hands, just mentioning that we’d like to try some stuff from the tandoor oven and a little seafood.

This proves a mistake – but not because the food we are provided is bad or even unenjoyable.

I just wish I’d kept my wits about me and said: “Please, Jimmy, no butter chicken!”

Being only a moderate fan of paneer, chilly paneer lazeez ($14.90) – “cottage cheese cubes battered fried then wok fried with shallots, bell pepper soya sauce and red chilli sauce” – finds only moderate favour with me. I actually prefer the accompanying vegetables more.

But, to my surprise, Bennie really likes the paneer, happily stabbing successive cubes until our next platter arrives.

Tandoori mixed grill ($19.90) is the goods and one of two outright food highlights of our night.

“Seek kebab”, like shish kkofta and nicely chewy but maybe a little on the dry side.

Two succulent lamb cutlets.

And, best of all, chicken tikka and tandoori chicken.

The various bits of chook are outstanding and juicy.

Maybe a little less of the lurid orange of typical tandoori chicken, and a whole lot more herbs and spices and a big flavour whack of lemon.

And all the meats go even better with the onions into which the cooking juices have soaked.

We scarf the lot, no problem.

Butter chicken ($15.50)? This is probably a good version, but it’s simply not my thing – or even of much appeal to Bennie.

Tender chicken, but it’s so rich and so sweet!

(Any ideas why this is THE dish most people order in Indian restaurants?)

Dal makhani ($12.50) is creamily rich, too, but the blend of black lentils is silky and smooth.

After all that richness, prawn malabar ($17.90) comes as a relief and is our other big thumbs-up for the night.

There’s a lot of prawns, every one of which have that “bursty” thing going on that fine prawns always do.

The gravy is just right – coconut-based and laced with mustard seeds and flavoured, too, with curry leaves.

Our meal is completed by one apiece of good garlic ($3) and mint ($3.50) naans.

We’re full and then some – but, naturally, Bennie has no problem finding room for his tall glass of jelly, ice cream and fruit that goes by the title of Tutti Frutti.

Aside from getting a couple of dishes we wouldn’t normally choose – no one’s fault, that, except mine – we’ve had a ball at Tandoori Falmes and really adore the happy family vibes.

There’s Indian music of a more restrained variety on Friday nights and belly dancing on Saturday nights.

And, yes, the place has a couple of wall-mounted flat-screen TVs!

Check out the Tandoori Flames website, including menu, here.

Our meal at Tandoori Flames was provided free of charge by the owner in return for a story on Consider The Sauce. The food we enjoyed was chosen by the management. Tandoori Flames had no editorial control of this post.

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Motorino delivers

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Motorino, 29a Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone 9399 2121

We’ve let Motorino, Kingsville’s popular and by all accounts very cool pizza ‘n’ pasta place, escape our attentions thus far.

But the arrival in our letterbox of a menu and the vital information the place is doing home deliveries allows scope for a special treat.

The order is …

One large Smashed Sicilian green olive pizza with Motorino pesto, ricotta, bocconcini and chilli ($14).

One Salad Motorino of iceberg lettuce, bocconcini, tomato, cucumber, red onion, lemon, olive oil and Kalamata olives ($11).

The pie is barely lukewarm by the time it’s made the short journey to Yarravile but it matters not – because this is a ripper.

There’s no discernible chilli quotient, but there’s basil leaves along with the advertised ingredients.

The various flavours work really well together, though some may find this blend a bit on the salty side.

This is one of the cheaper and lighter pizzas on the Motorino menu and it’s a clear winner, with enough topping to make a meal yet not to make the base soggy, with crusts nicely crunchy but just as yummo as the rest.

The salad is not of the same high standard.

There’s certainly plenty of it.

And the lettuce, cheese balls, onion, olives, tomato and cumber are all fresh as.

But somehow the end result is less than the sum of its parts, even when doused with accompanying tub of olive oil and drizzled with the contents of the juicy lemon wedge.

Perhaps the plainer, cheaper rocket, olive oil, balsamic and parmesan salad ($9) would be a better choice.

Still, based on this meal it seems little wonder Motorino is so well loved.

And it’s certainly a big step up in class from our usual pizza delivery results. The tangy green olives on the pizza, for instance, belong in a different world from the rancid little black turds of olive found on your basic Aussie pizza.

Could be it’s time for a visit!

There seems to be no minimum order for Motorino home delivery but there is a modest delivery fee of $2.

The Motorino website is here.

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She’s Thai – takeaway


Friday takeaway dinner from She's Thai.

She’s Thai, 208 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9314 5556

Isn’t it some sort of bureaucratic insanity that sees kids start the new school year on a Thursday or Friday?

In any case, we’ve stumbled across the finish line of another week, including Bennie’s two-day week and my own commuting-and-driving routine.

We’re worn out and the house is out of food.

We’ve already been out on the fang once this week and will do so again some time over the weekend, so all we feel like is some quality sofa time.

It’s the perfect opportunity to take our local Thai joint, only sparingly frequented since our initial story, out for another spin.

Keeping the price down by cooking our own rice, going for two mains and ignoring the temptations of the entree list, we order red curry chicken and – wanting the crunch and zing of a stiry fry – the preow wahn, which is described as “sweet and sour using ‘royal cuisine’ style”.

Takeaway dinner from She's Thai.

Stir fry? Really?

Call it what you want – in our house we’ll call it soup.

Truly, our preow wahn is unlike anything we’ve ever come across before that has been even remotely stir fry.

The jumble of vegetables and pineapple is OK, but the gravy – soup! – is like a close cousin of the Cantonese sweet and sour.

A lame cousin.

Our red chicken curry is better, though fairly minimalist in terms of size.

What seems to be the same vegetable mix joins the chicken pieces is a gravy that separates out into its separate components.

Am I correct in assuming this signifies home-cooking, as opposed supermarket sauces and coconut milk overkill?

Aside from our stir fry being nothing we’d label as such and a disappointingly low level of spice and zing, our dinner goes OK but is still disappointing.

Surprisingly enough, that disappointment does little to dent our faith in the worthiness and integrity of She’s Thai.

Waiting to bat during the next day’s cricket match at Spotswood, Bennie calls it right: “It’d be better if we went there to eat their food!”

Not to mention relying on the staff for advice, making sure of much higher spice levels and more robust flavours, and maybe trying one of the handful of duck dishes.

And then there’s always the sticky and delicious massaman beef curry.

She's Thai - service with a smile!

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25A Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone: 0401 218 677

Les Sullivan is adamant – the term pretzel is nothing but an Americanisation of bretzel.

He likens it to a reference he once found to Dutch pretzels.

After a suitable amount of head-scratching he realised this, too, was an Americanisation … of Deutsch pretzels!

He laughs when I tell him the story – actually mostly an urban myth, but it rings true – that movie execs were forced to change the name of the movie The Madness of King George III for the American market.

I mean, who’d want to see it when they hadn’t already seen George I and George II?

Les, a South African, met his German wife, Annette, in his homeland some 35 years ago. He was an anti-apartheid social worker, she a mission worker arriving from Namibia.

Eventually, they moved to Australia to escape the brutal insanity of apartheid and the seemingly slim chances that anything there would ever change.

They’ve been at their Kingsville address for about a year, having before that run their bretzel business in Geelong.

As markets in and around Melbourne came to make up more and more of their business, they simply got sick of going up and down the highway.

As a Yarraville/Geelong commuter, I can sympathise!

They can sell up to 500 bretzels at a single market in a day.

Bennie and I have already eaten a beaut Vietnamese lunch, so share a simple cinnamon/sugar bretzel ($4), with a cafe latte for me and a hot chocolate for him.

Cinnamon/sugar bretzel.


It’s a subtle sweet treat when compared to, say, pastries and strudels from other parts of Europe. The sugar ‘n’ spice blend is just right and the texture of the bretzel itself both tender and chewy.

More flashy variants are available for $5, including one stuffed with Nutella and topped with choccy sprinkles.

Les explains that the sweet bretzels differ from their standard salted colleagues ($3) through the inclusion of milk and sugar in the dough.

The standard bretzels are made of just four and yeast.

Because of the authentic use of the term bretzels with a “B”, the Sullivans find a lot of customers get them confused with bagels.

It’s simple – bagels are boiled, bretzels are roasted.

“We are very passionate about our product,” Les says. “It’s not deep fried, it’s healthy and it’s different.”

Their simple German-style cafe attracts customers coming to the area specifically for a bretzel fix. They often leave disappointed, as the Sullivans are often at market, as they say.

They also win walk-up trade thanks to the proximity of the Famous Blue Rain Coat, which is right next door, and Motorino, which is a few doors up.

They’re always happy, however, to make coffees if on the premises and getting stuck into their substantial prep work.

Our brews were fine.

Phoning ahead would seem to be the right idea.

The Bretzel.biz Facebook page has all the details, including their market commitments.

She’s Thai


208 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9314 5556

How mindlessly presumptuous – and how profoundly wrong.

In all the years we’ve lived in Yarraville or thereabouts, we’ve driven past She’s Thai countless times, but never deigned to enter.

In my mind, I’d painted a picture of this eatery as a low-rent Thai place unworthy of our attention.

This was based on the unfounded inkling that it was just another cheap eat Thai place that mostly likely purveyed food that wasn’t anything special or worse – and at prices a good dollar or two higher than charged for similar and better at our many local Viet and Indian favourites.

But finally, mid-week, curiosity wins out and through the doors of She’s Thai I amble.

From the moment I cross the threshold it’s clear my presumptions are without any basis.

This is a lovely neighbourhood restaurant.

The open kitchen bustles, with adjacent casual area for customers awaiting takeaway orders and the neighbouring more formal dining room adorned with Thai woodwork and decorations. Thai music tinkles in the background and there’s even a table laid out with recent newspapers for those waiting or dining solo.

To cap it all, cackles of glee escape the kitchen as I start taking photos – always a good sign!

I question the gent of Western persuasion – as the nearby sign reads, “She’s Thai But I’m Not!” – about the Thai provenance of the chive dumplings ($5). The gist of his reply seems to be they are to be found in some areas of Thailand while having obviously having a transnational heritage.

I order them anyway. A mistake – but the only one of my visit. These Thai chive dumpling may be paragons, but for me they are too plain and lacking flavour. The two flat dumplings remind me of nothing so much as the spring onion pancakes you find in some Chinese establishments.

My gang massaman (brown beef curry) is much, much better.

I’ve had this dish many times elsewhere, usually enjoying the mild but deep mix of peanut and coconut vibes with chunky meat and – always! – the potato pieces that sing with flavour, so tender they almost become part of the gravy.

The She’s Thai massaman curry ($12.50) is quite different – in fact, more like a goulash, so sticky and gooey is the gravy. The beef is chunky and tender. The coconut flavour is more restrained than I am expecting, though the peanut quotient is high thanks to the pleasing crunch of the many skinless half nuts on offer. They join the expected spuds, crinkle-cut carrots, heaps of pineapple and basil leaves in completing a rich and delicious dish.

A few nights later, I phone in a takeaway order for chicken pad thai ($11.50), which provides a lovely at-home meal of egg noodles, egg, bean sprouts and juicy chicken pieces.

She’s Thai doesn’t do home deliveries, but no matter for us – the place is so close that barely five minutes need pass between leaving and arriving home with the goodies.

And we’ll surely be returning to take in more of the menu on a dine-in basis – for sure something with a bit more colour and zing and spice from the stir fry and salad listings.

I’ll be excited to do so, as She’s Thai is a gem of a place.

Meanwhile, I’ve also had an insider’s thumbs up on At 43, the new Thai place in Yarraville that is Cafe Urbano by day!

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Tandoori Flames

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1/76 Yarra St, Geelong. Phone: 5298 2147

Not more than 24 hours after writing a snotty putdown of a yahoo email that imagined I’m the kind of food blog bloke who hustles free meals, there I was – accepting a free meal.

My Geelong lunches had long been reduced to routine and even tedium, the same takeaways eaten at my desk and, more and more often, packed lunches making the train trip with me.

So the previous week, I’d been delighted to find a new Indian joint just around the corner.

Tandoori Flames operates, particularly at night, as a more formal a la carte restaurant with all the usuals and mains ranging from $10 to $15.

But taking advantage of central location in Geelong’s CBD, they’re also wooing the lunchtime crowd with a shorter and cheaper menu, towards which I was drawn by my natural instincts .

On it are such items as pakoras, samosas, onion bhaji, tandoori chook, as well as a variety of salads and wraps.

The previous week I’d tried the chicken biryani, taken away and eaten at my desk. Not bad, either.

And the previous day, conscious of a tiny lunch-time window yet weary of the desk routine, I’d phoned ahead using one of the mobile numbers given me for just that purpose, wishing to ensure my meal as ready when I arrived.

About 20 minutes later I bowled up and … there was no one home. Literally.

Disappointed, I was forced to utilise the less attractive option of the Viet-Sino place next door.

Turns out that after taking my order, Jimmy had onpassed it – again by phone – to their chef, who in the meantime had had some sort of misadventure on the highway. No appearance, you worship!

Later in the afternoon, Jimmy phoned me in the office, gushing with apologies and promising me my next lunch “on the house”.

So there you go – a freebie meal, yes, but offered to and accepted by a regular customer, not a food blogger.

My “on the house” lunch order was the dish that had escaped me the previous day – chooley pathuray, Tandoori Flames’ version of the Kitchen Samrat dish earlier praised hereabouts.

And gosh it was good, the chick peas dancing with a deep red, tomatoey gravy of only mild spiciness, some raw chopped onion adding crunch.

The breads, two of them, were heavenly.

Deep fried and studded with black cardamom seeds that offer exquisite little grenades of flavour, they were so moreish as to put most routine flat breads, Indian or otherwise, in the shade.

The perfect lunch!

Another staff member, Jas, explained to me the difference between puris and pathuray – the former a lighter bread made with refined flour and commonly eaten as part of breakfast, the latter quite a bit heftier and made using plain flour.

Or as she put it: “With puris, I’ll eat four; with pathuray only two.”

It’s surprising it took me so long to work out that there’s a western suburbs angle to all this – the Geelong eatery is a branch of the familiar Tandoori Flames is South Kngsville and on the same street as Food By Motorino that made a good impression of Ms Baklover at Footcray Food Blog.

We’ve driven by heaps of times, but never stopped – maybe because they don’t do lunch.

Given the exceptional and caring service I’ve received at their new Geelong enterprise, the Kingsville Flames is on our hit list for a soon-come dinner.

The Melbourne branch of Tandoori Flames is at 15 Vernon St, South Kingsville (phone 9078 2726) and their website is here.

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