Bianca: I have always had a weakness for Indian food, granted my version of Indian may very well be the bastardised Western take – Butter Chickens, Vindaloo’s, Korma’s all eaten with a big piece of cheese Naan of course.
‘The Colonial’ have three restaurants in Sydney, one in Darlinghurst, Neutral Bay and Leichhardt which is where Madre and I stopped off before a cheeky midweek movie. Touted as British/Indian cuisine harkening back to the days of Colonial British Rule in India’s North Western provinces.
Leichhardt was virtually a second home to me growing up, so it’s pretty sad to see its steady decline the last ten years or so, council interference and those pesky parking meters have left it a virtual ghost town. So despite it feeling like mum and I were the only people on the Norton St strip, we settled in for our Indian feast.
It’s no local Indian joint that’s for sure, perfect for a family dinner, a casual get together or even date night, inside seating is rather small but there is a garden outdoors that offers seating (which is currently closed).
As we were perusing the menu the waitress brought over a complimentary basket of Pappadum’s and raita, always a plus in my books because who doesn’t love a treat! I did have to hand these back to the waitress after we had eaten two, we were going to order a lot and didn’t want to waste precious stomach space.
And then the food onslaught began. Prices here are so reasonable that I really couldn’t help myself. They offer a variety of tapas, something I have never seen at an Indian restaurant. It was a really great way to get a broad sense of the menu and the quality of the food without going overboard.
Our first tapas was the ‘Chicken Tikka & Lychee Chaat’ – boneless tandoori chicken tossed with lychees and tamarind chutney. $8.90. This really was quite odd, mum and I really had no notion as to how this was going to come out and finally seeing it we would have been way off. A salad would make a more adequate description. Mum was drawn to the combination of chicken and lychees, not a pairing I would naturally think as cohesive. What puzzled me most of all, olives. Olives in an Indian dish? Very strange. Thankfully odd ingredients aside, it was actually very nice, I was pleasantly surprised. Quite a refreshing dish on a hot day, not to mention it would easily suffice as a main meal for somebody not particularly hungry and looking for something light.
Next we had one of my favourite Indian offerings ‘Aloo Tikki’ – potato patties with baby peas, spices, served with chutney three ways. $7.90. This was another dish that led to a bit of confusion, I’ve never seen Aloo Tikki presented this way, drowned in sauce. I’ll give this to the Colonial, they are very theatrical with their plating. Another solid dish, despite swimming in sauce it was still crunchy on the outside. I was a little bit confused by the ‘three ways’ tacked on to the end of the menu description, my interpretation was potato three ways. But I could only discern two definite ways, unless the third were the deep yellow balls, which I thought were chickpeas. I didn’t care for the small cold boiled potatoes.
Our last tapas was the ‘Seekh Kofta’ – Lamb mince, herbs & spices, cooked in a clay oven and served with mint chutney. $9.90. This was probably our least favourite dish of the evening, it really reminded me of those skinless chevap sausages texture wise. It tasted like a run of the mill kofta but I really loved the cabbage underneath the kofta which picked up quite a bit of smokiness from the sizzling tray.
I am a fiend for Naan….a fiend. Chuck on a whole heap of tasty cheese, slap on my pj’s, slip in a movie and I’m virtually ready to not move from the lounge for hours and hours in a cheese induced hazed. I was in public so I had to maintain a modicum of respectability. I had my eyes on the ‘Cheese and Shallot Naan’ – stuffed with cheese, spring onions and shallots. $4.90 from the moment I saw it on the menu online. Sometimes you can get a really dodgy greasy naan but this one was right on the money, I do like it cheesy so might have liked a tad more but on the whole it was really very satisfying.
Mum was rather taken with the sound of the ‘Paneer Kulcha’’ – Leavened refined flour bread, stuffed with cottage cheese & blended with spices. $5.90. Very similar in appearance, taste and texture with the only difference being, naan uses a leavening agent and Paneer Kulcha has either baking powder or baking soda. In this case, I was a little puzzled by the description ‘Leavened refined flour bread…’ would make it a naan bread, no? Semantics aside, whether it was a naan or a paneer kulcha it was quite nice. I tend to avoid cottage cheese because it does nothing for me but I enjoyed the combination of the cheese and spices together. I’d still pick the cheesy naan over this however
Lastly, we had to have something to slather onto our naan right? We got one serving of ‘Steamed Rice’ $3.90 and one serving of the ‘Kadhai Chicken’ – Boneless Chicken pieces cooked on wok with capsicum, grape tomatoes, Spanish onions and fresh coriander. $18.90. Mum and I were truly eating for pure gluttony at this point, we both don’t handle cream based dishes very well so wanted something a little bit lighter. It’s really all about the protein and the sauce in these types of dishes and this was a generous serve with quality cuts of chicken (a major plus in my books) the tomato really rounded out the acidity. Ultimately we gave up after a few bites defeated by our bellies but the staff happily boxed up our remaining food.
I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of food here at the Colonial, I wouldn’t necessarily associate good Indian in the former ‘Little Italy’ but with some good quality places like Bonarche Burgers, Apperitivo and The Colonial, here’s hoping Norton St, Leichhardt gets back to the former strip we all loved so much.