Last year I had my best meal of the year very early on in January. This year I think the wait has been till October, and unlikely to be bettered in the next couple of months, with my visit to Lions and Tigers. Simply outstanding food in this newly opened homage to Indian cuisine in Bannister Street, Fremantle. Under the skilled hands of Alia Glorie, the kitchen is turning out some of the best food in the port city, and the wider metro area in general.
The menu is Indian influenced but as one of their hashtags #notquiteindian indicates, there are little diversions from classic fare but everything is done so very well.
The smallish wine list has been expertly put together and has some rippers– among them, Tim Wildman’s superb Astro Bunny Pet Nat, La Violetta’s YéYé Blanc, Lowboi Chardonnay, Koerner’s Cabernet Franc and Vintalopers Pinot Rosé which was our choice. Made from Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills it is super savoury, very crisp and dry, oodles of cherry and cranberry aromas and flavours, all very gluggable and a perfect match to spicy food.
Well to the food – the lunch menu is a little smaller than that offered in the evenings but there was plenty of very tempting choices – so we began with seafood bites – whatever is fresh that morning pimped up into something special. On this occasion small, plum, juicy clams topped with a mildly spiced chop of crunchy vegetable. Light, oozing fresh bright flavours.
Onto a smoked mussel whip – boosted with Indian spices and chilli oil, giving it a pleasant smoky, chilli buzz – topped with vibrant orange balls of tobiko – flying fish roe – and served with a selection of crudites – fresh beans, radish, peas, carrots and more – to dip and swirl. Wonderful amalgam of flavours and texture.
Speaking of texture their “proper” onion bhaji nailed this as well – crisp out, moist in, crunchy onion, not a hint of oiliness, and served with burnt shallot raita. Some of the best bhaji I have had.
A serve of pappadums doesn’t seem that special – but these were – house made, browned and crisp, coloured and flavoured with curry leaf and accompanied by a delightful mildly spiced piccalilli.
Now to “Steve” – the signature sourdough naan – fluffy, lightly charred, sprinkled with black cardamom and jaggery – bringing with them a mix of sweet, salty, sour and aromatics – and the whipped ghee it came with was light, creamy and extremely moreish.
Cream soaked paneer was next to arrive – light, creamy, tangy paneer topped with sharp lemon pickle strips, zucchini flowers, sliced baby zucchini and lemon flavoured oil. Another exceptional and innovative dish.
Finally, a side of gunpowder potatoes – baby potatoes – halved, roasted, lightly crushed and topped with a green masala highlighting chilli and coriander flavours, how much better than the usual roast spud?
There is even more choice at night – the coal grilled whole fish with red masala has my name on it when I get back – and it has just been announced that Sunday brunch is on – and the menu looks equally enchanting – curry leaf scramble, hot smoked salmon, dosa, naan dough waffle – got to get down to Freo to try that out.
Lions and Tigers is a must.