To celebrate the end of our exams, we were so excited to venture to Glebe and try the amazing cuisine on offer at Darbar Fine Indian, a rustic, yet modern Indian eatery.
We left the food selection in the hands of the owner, Vinay, and we were not disappointed at all! To start with, we had a flurry of entrees, taking us on a journey of delights from the refreshing to the hearty. First up was the beautiful Darbar Chat, a refreshing snack that we couldn’t help going back in for another taste again and again! A swirl of colours on the surface in the form of a yoghurt based ‘tongue-twisting’ sauce hid the crisped spinach, potatoes and chickpeas beneath.
Continuing the theatre of the meal, a bowl with two charcoal stones on a bed of leaves was presented to us. After we explored further, we realised it was the Bamboo Charcoal Tuna Fish, which so well charred, yet moist and nicely spiced, and paired perfectly with a mint sauce. The Prawn Vepudu was next up, and the lentil powder, curry leaves and garam masala added a much needed kick to the normally neutral seafood – so good!
Another great highlight was the stuffed zucchini flowers – this super modern take on the Italian classic had a nice mixture of spiced vegetables, and they were nice and crispy, with a wonderful crunchy texture. The chef’s speciality was next – the Jal Pari Hariyali, which was a marinated salmon fillet , crunchy and golden on the outside and soft on the inside, and served with a crispy sweet potato flower, which we loved!
The pulled lamb and beetroot bonda looked similar, but couldn’t be more apart in terms of taste and flavour sensations. Lovers of more mild cuisine will adore the lamb, which was flavoursome and tender. But for those of you with a passion for spice, the beetroot is for you, as there’s a great kick of dried chilli in the middle. Be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted, but if you can bear the spice, it’s a stunning entrée and so delicious!
Finally, we had the quail fry, another fusion dish that was such a surprise, but a great delight on the menu. Vinay and his team have truly transformed and modernised Indian cooking with some of their dishes, and the quail was a perfect example. The delicate balance of spices and zesty hit of lemon made each piece super tasty!
While we were absolutely full to the brim after the incredible entrees, we took a short break, and were back in action for the mains. First up, and my dish of the day, was the Gutti Vankai, a Hyderabadi dish of stuffed eggplant curry in a cashew and peanut paste. It was simultaneously creamy and rich whilst being well seasoned with spices and having a good hit of heat, and went perfectly with the fluffy cheese naan and garlic naan, which cut through some of the spice. We also had the Tawa Mushroom curry, a milder vegetarian option that used simple flavours in a tadka sauce that was softer on the palette – super yum!
Another modern dish was the Desi lamb shank on a bed of potato mash, which was so well seasoned and practically fell off the bone, and showcased the Indian spices used to marinade it. Needless to say, we polished the plate dry! Finally, after seeing another diner order it, we were so excited to have our own Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani, which was cooked in a pastry crust. When it was cut open, the delicious fragrant smell of the rice wafted out, and it truly tasted as good as it looked, and was super moist because of being cooked in the pastry. A perfect end to the meal!
As you walk through the doors of Darbar, you’re transported back to the palaces of India. The beautiful décor, paintings and brightly coloured cushions add to this feel. There is ample seating for groups and it would be a great function venue, but the restaurant is a lovely place for an intimate weeknight dinner as well. The staff were so friendly and welcoming, ushering us in out of the cold and giving us a warming drink or two, and were really attentive and charming, proudly bringing out the amazing dishes.
In terms of the menu, Vinay and his team have crafted an amazing selection of both vegetarian and non-veggie options for all tastes and spice tolerances! We sampled eats from all over India, and loved how inventive the dishes were, using new techniques and flavours in Indian dishes. This is the perfect cuisine to share, as you’ll want to try some of everything, and we recommend that you get some of the incredible entrees – they’ll challenge your percpetions of what Indian food is about!
Darbar Fine Indian offers warm hospitality, a beautiful venue and of course, amazing dishes that transport you to India and beyond. Who would’ve thought we’d see potato puree or quail on an Indian restaurant menu? Only after eating at Darbar could I confidently say that Indian cuisine effectively lends itself to this type of modern fusion cuisine, and it is definitely worth the trip down to Glebe. We’ll definitely have to make a return trip for some dessert – the Gulab Jamun looked divine!
Note: Khana dined as a guest of Zomato and Darbar Fine Indian. Thanks so much to Trina for the invite!