Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 21, 2011: Lakshmi

6/8/2013 - It seems as though Lakshmi is closed. The site is being transformed into yet another burger joint - we'll keep you posted.

We got a tip from AOF recently about a new Indian place on nearby Rathdowne Street. It's called Lakshmi and has taken up the space where Cafe Bagatelles used to be on the corner of Curtain (opposite newish bakery Depot de Pain). It's a cute little place with seats for maybe 30 people and a relatively short menu - six curries including 3 vego dishes and a few sides.

We were greeted with a little bowl of mixed spicy treats (on the house) while we mulled over our choices. Drink-wise Lakshmi is strictly BYO, with just a couple of non-alcoholic options: mango and tamarind. We both chose the tamarind drink - it was sweet and non-carbonated and a decent enough accompaniment for our curries.

I couldn't resist the lure of the thali: dahl, raita, pickle, chutney, salad, pappadums and rice plus your choice of curry (chickpea masala for me!) for $18.90.

This is a lot of food - if we'd ordered it to take home, I could probably have managed to spread it across two meals. As it was, I demolished it all. The dahl was probably my highlight - a nice lentilly mix of coconut milk, chilli and deliciousness. The curry (chickpea masala with tomatoes, green beans, fenugreek and yoghurt) reminded me a bit of our semi-regular chickpea curry, with the addition of crispy fresh beans and a slightly less intense flavour. The array of accompaniments was a nice touch but I probably didn't need pickles, raita and chutney. I do love my pickles though and this one (lime) was pretty great.

Cindy took on the other vegetarian curry on the menu, the Sri Lankan pumpkin (with fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut milk, $13.90) with a side of roti ($4). The curry was sweet and mildly spiced, with the fenugreek and mustard seeds shining through, while the roti performed much better than Chin Chin's version.

Service was prompt and friendly, and the food was pretty damn good. It's a bit more expensive than some of Melbourne's other Indian places, shooting for the classier end of the market occupied by Roti Man and Indya Bistro. I thought that they measured up pretty well, while I think Cindy probably favours their near neighbours. The menu is limited, so how often we venture back will depend on how often we feel like repeating these dishes (or how often Lakshmi change things around). Still, it's a nice addition to the neighbourhood, and one that I think will do pretty well.

687 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North
9349 5525
veg eats $14 - $19

Accessibility: There's a small step on entry and small to moderate room between tables. We didn't check out the toilets.

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