In the old Salvation Army citadel building in Pier Street, the City Heart Indian is an unpretentious spot serving up authentic subcontinental food.
Certainly the décor is nothing to write home about – other than the old, aged golden coloured floor boards and the Federation style ceiling roses – however the food makes up for that.
There are tables both inside and out on the footpath of Pier Street, shaded and set back from the road with large pot plants.
We sat just inside by the open French doors, which allowed us to catch a little breeze and were overseen by a crouching lion keeping an eye on us from his perch on the meter box.
They have a small drinks list – a number of whites and reds, as well as rosé – and a few good beers to help wash the curry down.
We chose a bottle of Pitchfork Pink, a refreshingly crisp rosé from Margaret River. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, this has a lovely savoury nose with dry, raspberry flavours – it is a cracker of a wine, and just the thing for Indian food.
The menu, as with most Indian spots, is extensive; we were there at lunchtime and so in addition to the a la carte selection they offer a few specials – three thali; a three course plus glass of wine deal; and three meal deals – one each of vegetarian, seafood and meat which include two curries, rice and naan for around $15.
The latter were our choices – the meat dishes being butter chicken and rojan josh, and the seafood prawn masala and fish Malabar.
Served up in small bowls along with well cooked rice – separate grains, nice firmness – and a charred, doughy, chewy plain naan, they were generous portions.
The prawns were cooked with their tails, retained a good crunch, sweet tasting flesh, and the tomato based sauce, flecked with mustard seeds had a distinct chilli zing.
The fish, again tender and juicy, was cooked in a mild, creamy sauce of curry leaves, mustard seeds, tamarind and coconut. Both of the seafood dishes, with well integrated spices, were very good indeed.
Chunks of firm chicken thigh, juicy and moist, had been cooked in the classic creamy sauce of tomato and cashews, lifted with the aromatic addition of fenugreek leaves.
Diced lamb cooked with tomatoes, onions, aromatic spices in a rich, dark sauce was another good expression of this northern Indian dish. We were well satisfied with all of the curries dished up.
This is good little spot, a little away from the main eating strips of Perth – although there are quite a few spots springing up close by so it is well worth a walk up that way. The service is friendly and cheerful, the food well cooked and extremely good value. Open seven days for lunch and dinner, and also doing takeaway, City Heart is a bit of a hidden surprise.