After leaving the Little Girl Giant to snooze in her chair in Wellington Square on Friday, we wandered up Bennet Street looking for a place to have lunch. Grill and Chill is in a building that used to house, I think a Vietnamese restaurant – the name didn’t immediately explain the cuisine, but the descriptive phrase “incredible Indian flavours” was enough to entice us in.
The lunch menu is limited – offering a thali style meal – a choice of three of four curries, rice, naan and pappadum; costing $14.99 it seemed to be reasonable value, so that is what we ordered. The curries on offer were butter chicken, lamb rojan josh, dhal and a chickpea dish. Between the two of us we had all four.
The evening menu is much more extensive, offering up the usual array of Indian dishes. Starters include samosa, onion bhaji, vegetable cutlets and a range of tandoor dishes – fish, prawns, lamb, chicken. Among the large range of mains on offer are chicken korma, lamb saagwala, palak paneer (one of my favourites and a test, I think of the kitchen skills), malai kofta, prawn vindaloo and a goat curry. A range of naan, rice dishes and sides complete the menu. Except for the desserts which include the usual kulfi and gulab jamun but also one that certainly caught my eye – chocolate and cherry naan with icecream!
The drinks list has a number of beers – Kingfisher and another Indian brew, Godfather – among them and a range of spirits and cocktails. The wine list has about a dozen reds – Greedy Sheep Shiraz, Annies Lane Cabernet Merlot, Coldstream Hills Merlot – and ten whites – mainly sauvignon blanc and SSBs plus a couple of chardonnay -Devils Lair and Coldstream Hills; as well as a handful of sparkling. One rosé makes the cut and one Riesling – Fifth Leg Rosé and Lindemans Henry’s Sons Riesling.
Back to the food – our thali came out on a smallish china plate – I had been expecting the stainless steel thali dish that other places offer – but the individual curries in small bowls and the rice on the plate with a pappadum draped over smelled pretty good. And they tasted similarly.
The chickpea curry had a good chilli zing; the peas were tender and had taken up some of the spice; the sauce was tasty, with a slight underlying sourness – perhaps from tamarind.Butter chicken was very tender, meltingly soft and the mild curry sauce flavoured with garam masala, cumin, ginger and turmeric exhibited fragrant spice aromas.
The rojan josh may well have been mutton rather than lamb, but this did not detract in any way – mutton has more flavour in any case. This dish, an aromatic curry with Mughal lineage, had distinct aromas of cardamom, ginger, and coriander, with a hint of fennel. The meat was tender and juicy. The curry was mild, but with a little chilli lift.
The final dish, dhal, was a good example of the style – the lentils well cooked and soft, the spices well integrated.
With our meal we enjoyed a bottle of Fifth Leg rosé – an excellent food wine, with lifted strawberry notes on the nose, but more raspberry on the palate – a long dry finish makes it a good accompaniment to spicy food.
I will have to come back to try the evening menu – however what we had for lunch indicates to me that there are some good kitchen skills at work and there is the ability to turn out a tasty, zesty curry. The dessert naan will also be on my list to try next time.
My only suggestion is that raita or yoghurt would have been a nice addition to the thali – and the inclusion of a few more aromatic whites instead of the concentration on sauvignon blanc would enhance the wine list no end – a couple more, and better (try WA) Rieslings, maybe a pinot gris or gewurtztraminer – and another rosé!
All in all however, Grill and Chill is worth a visit and I will be heading back to try the larger menu when I get the opportunity.