A couple of friends came up from the Deep South – well Bunbury – last week and we met up with them close to where they were staying, at the Balti on the corner of the Terrace and Victoria Avenue. Set at the bottom of an apartment block Balti is well fitted out and an inviting looking spot. We were shown to our table and while we waited for the arrival of our friends, Lady FWO and I sipped on a glass of Deep Woods rosé for her, and Bellarmine Riesling for me, while chomping away on a basket of crisp and well-cooked pappadums.
By the time we had finished the table was complete and we set about ordering – the menu is reasonably large and contains most of usual dishes you would expect from an Indian restaurant in Perth; the wine list is also pretty well put together with a good range of aromatics and of course a selection of beer also on offer.
We started with a couple of entrées – onion bhaji and what were described as chopped prawn fritters. The latter of these turned out to be sort of a pakora – light chick pea batter, nice distribution of chopped prawn flesh, moist and sweet, and came with a bowl of chilli dipping sauce. They were very enjoyable.
The onion bhaji were about golf ball size and shape and while they had a good amount of chopped onion, the filling itself was overly dry – a bit more moisture would have jumped them up the scale – a good tamarind chutney accompanied them.
Our mains were a couple of the classics – lamb Rogan josh and Malai kofta, as well as a serve of Kerala fish curry and one of a chicken dish cooked with almonds and saffron. Rice and garlic naan were our chosen companions.
The lamb presented as a good cut of meat, cooked well – tender, succulent – and the spicy masala mix as it should be – aromatic with a bouquet of cloves, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, ginger – and with a good chilli kick to it.
Similarly the chicken was well cooked, tender and juicy – and the yoghurt based sauce creamy and mild with saffron, cardamom, turmeric and ginger spices evident – as well as a good whack of ground almond to thicken and add more flavour to the dish.
The Kerala fish was the highlight for me – beautifully cooked fish, a little firmness left but very tender and swimming in a coconut based masala with mustard seeds giving a zesty lift and curry leaves their characteristic aroma.
Malai kofta – balls of potato and cottage cheese with raisins, had been cooked in a mild sweetish sauce flavoured with cashews and almonds. Another well put together dish.
The naan bread had a nice char, garlic butter slathered across, and were chewy and doughy as expected – good indeed.
With meal we began with a bottle of a French sparkling, Veuve D’argent; this has a fine bead, green apple aromas, and apple and stone-fruit notes on the palate. Light and refreshing. We followed up with a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Frankland, Alkoomi – blackcurrants and plums on the nose, with a medium bodied palate full of juicy plums and mulberries, smooth tannins and well integrated oak.
Balti turns out good quality Indian fare – nothing out of the mainstream, but done well. The dishes all showed a deft hand with spices, well cooked through and integrated and the masala was rich and full of flavour. Likewise the wine list shows some forethought and service is attentive – even a little over attentive at times. The only minor whinge I had was that for four dishes, rice and bread, as well as wine and water glasses the table was a tad overcrowded – perhaps we should have ordered less – we certainly couldn’t finish everything we did. Anyway, we had a very good time and will be back. Recommended.