We made the move to our new Carlton home a few days ahead of our belongings, meaning we were forced to endure the Lygon Street eateries for seven consecutive meals. Our first dinner was at the decidedly un-Italian Inkari – a Latin American restaurant specialising in traditional foods from South and Central America and the Carribean (the manager emphatically informed us that they did not sell nachos). The restaurant itself was quite small, with a few tables spilling out onto the footpath and jazzy South American music keeping our toes tapping while we awaited our meals (there was a band scheduled for 9:30, but we are yet to adjust to the lateness of the meals in Melbourne and were out the door well before they came on).
The vegetarian options were limited Cindy and I both ordered hotpot dishes (the other choices being a spinach tart and a couple of salads). The first, humitas (from Argentina and Chile) was based primarily on corn while the quinoa and potato gratin (from Bolivia and Peru) was, as the name suggests, largely quinoa and potato. Both were enjoyable without being particularly striking.
The real reason to visit Inkari is located on the drinks menu. I enjoyed two Paceňas (a Bolivian beer) over dinner and we all picked something out of the enormous list of hot chocolate options for dessert. Cindy had the Aztec Submarine (pictured), made up of dark chocolate, chilli, vanilla and cinnamon, while I opted for the Inkari (basically the same as Cindy’s with the addition of Grand Marnier and orange zest). The combination of chilli and chocolate is surprisingly delicious, with the chilli faintly stinging the back of your throat while the rest of your mouth is savouring the delicious dark chocolate flavour.
Inkari was a fun place to dine and provides a welcome break from the standard Italian fare that takes up so much of Lygon Street. The limited vego options will probably mean that it will be a while before we return for dinner, but I think I can guarantee that we’ll be having the odd post-dinner hot chocolate in the coming months.
Edit 19/12/07: Sadly, Inkari appears to have closed permanently.
Address: 237 Lygon Street, Carlton
Ph: 9349 5500
Price: $12-$14 for veg mains