We were pretty excited when Tadka Boom! opened in the CBD, bringing with it the promise of India-inspired breakfast dishes and more straightforward lunches. Idli-based breakfast dishes and scrambled eggs with lentil and rice pikelets sounded fascinating and fun. Sadly, we took a few months to get ourselves sorted for a visit, by which time they'd ditched the brekkies entirely. The new focus is healthy Indian lunches, which suited our mood for a lazy long-weekend trip into the city.
The restaurant is tucked into Goldsborough Lane, a little courtyard filled with office-worker lunch spaces and not a lot of atmosphere. The layout inside is bright and cheerful - block colours, cute circular fluoro lights and upbeat staff. The menu is a slightly odd mix of wraps and rice bowls, snack-sized dishes and Indian-inspired sliders and tacos. It's veg-friendly and well-labelled, with heaps of options for vegans.
The Indian felafel tacos (2 for $10) sounded intriguing, but I decided to go with something more conventional - the Varansi Veg rice bowl (spicy vegetable mix with brown basmati rice and lentil dahl, $10.90) with a side of Bombay bites (lentil and herb nuggets with coriander aioli, $3.50 extra). The bites were okay - a little on the dry side, but a nice herby flavour and a decent amount of aioli for dunking.
The bowl was more successful - the spicy veggie mix was fresh, almost salady, with plenty of fresh chilli chunks dotted through the cabbage, greens, carrot and likely cooked cauliflower and the dahl was hearty. I was impressed that they keep the spice levels up reasonably high - this could have been pretty dull if they'd been a bit less adventurous.
Cindy tried one of the salads - lured in by the promise of samosas as a key ingredient. The Boom!osa combined broken spinach and potato samosas with fresh greens, blackened chickpeas and a spicy dressing ($10.90).
Cindy was impressed by this (although it also had high spice levels, which were a bit of a challenge) and inspired by the idea of including samosa chunks in a salad - expect a homemade interpretation at some stage soon!
Tadka Boom! is the kind of place you'd love if you worked nearby - an affordable, varied menu with plenty of veggie options. I'm guessing it'd be pretty busy on a regular work day - even on the Monday before the Melbourne Cup public holiday things were getting pretty full by 12:30. Their lack of any weekend opening hours mean it might be a while before we get back. It's definitely worth checking out if you do work in the neighbourhood, though - I'd love to hear what the tacos are like!
The Lentil Institution has already covered the vegan options at Tadka Boom! and was quite impressed, while Gastrology and Grazing Panda both enjoyed the omni options. Brunch Addict's post makes me a bit sad to have missed the brief breakfast period, and there are a series of posts on special freebie events at My Fair Melbourne, Bread & Butter, I'm So Hungree and ForkSake.
Shop 22, Goldsborough Lane, Melbourne
Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. Seats are a mix of high stools and regular tables. You order and pay at a lowish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.