There are new restaurants popping up in Canberra all the time and my ‘to eat’ list is always growing. I love checking out new places so I was really excited when I received an invitation to dine at Darbar Indian Restaurant in Braddon.
Located on Braddon’s popular Lonsdale St, Darbar is the new kid on the block and is adding some spice to Canberra’s food scene by serving up beautifully presented and absolutely delicious Indian food. In fact, we haven’t visited an Indian restaurant like it and it’s one of, if not, the best Indian restaurant we’ve been to.
Owner Vinay also runs Darbar Indian Restaurant in Sydney. He noticed that the Canberra food scene was missing an Indian restaurant like his. He would regularly make trips to Canberra to cater for events and after lots of research he decided that it was time to show Canberra his unique style of Indian Cuisine and opened Darbar in February.
To find Darbar you have to enter the Mode 3 building and towards the back of the building on the left you’ll find this modern new restaurant. We were hit with the aroma of Indian spices as soon as we entered M3 and it was in that moment that I knew we were going to have a wonderful dining experience.
We were seated and the feast began! You’ll find lots of vegetarian options on the menu but if regular curries that you find on most Indian restaurants is what you’re after then you might be in for a surprise. Of course you will find the ever so popular butter chicken as well as a korma curry and a rogan josh on the menu but there are so many more interesting dishes, including soft shell crab. One of the things I loved about Darbar was the unique dishes on offer. In saying that, we did try the butter chicken and it was ah-mazing – but I do love butter chicken.
The first dish to arrive at our table was the Darbar Chaat, a vegetarian dish that resembled a delicious dip. But it’s so much more than it appears to be. When you dig in you hit layers of crispy spinach tossed together with potato and chickpeas. The combination of the textures and the flavours of the sauce worked perfectly and it was a great way to start the meal.
The Beetroot Bonda were next to arrive and Mr Eat Canberra and I loved these flavoursome dumplings. They’re made from potato & beetroot with a touch of chilli, mustard seeds and spices and then they’re coated with chickpea flour. They’re crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The colour of the beetroot shines through when you bite into them and they’re served with a coriander and beetroot dip on the side.
The salmon ticked all the box and I can’t wait to eat it again. The fillet was cooked perfectly and it was coated with turmeric, cashew paste, cumin, coriander powder and a touch of lemon juice. It’s served with crisped sweet potato and mint sauce on a bed of spiced potatoes. It also looks gorgeous on the plate. I would be happy eating this dish all to myself!
The tender and juicy spiced lamb cutlets and the crispy stuffed zucchini flowers followed – two more tasty dishes that were spiced to perfection.
The next dish was really fun, smelt amazing and was really tasty. The Bamboo charcoal Tuna Fish arrives in a glass jar that is filled with smoke. The smokiness smells delicious and adds a little theatre to your meal! Inside the jar sits a ball of fresh tuna that’s simmered with mustard seed and other spices before it’s fried with bamboo charcoal that’s infused cornstarch.
Darbars has put their own spin on the popular Indian dish, chicken biryani. The chicken is so tender and again it ticks all the boxes in regards to spice and flavour. The dish is topped with pastry to seal the natural flavours along with coconut milk, mint, saffron and rose water and it’s served with two sauces on the side.
Mr Eat Canberra’s favourite dish of the night arrived next. He’s not really a lamb shank kind of man but I think this has converted him. The Desi Lamb Shanks are a special creation from the chef and are slow-cooked for 8 hours with whole spices, shallots, carrot, garlic cloves and tomatoes. It’s served on a bed of creamy potato mash and the meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.
The delicious eggplant curry and the butter chicken were the last dishes of the night and they were served with one of the best naan breads I’ve had in a long time as well as Lacha Paatha. The naan bread was light (not stodgy like a lot of naans) and was lathered with a good amount of garlic. The Lacha Paatha was light, flaky and slightly sweet. The butter chicken was rich, thick and flavoursome. Again, this was one of the best butter chickens I’ve had in a long time.
Gutti Vankai was another really tasty dish we tried. When eggplant is cooked right it is delicious and the stuffed whole baby eggplants were soft and perfectly cooked. They sat in a rich sauce of ground cashews, peanuts, sesame and coconut cooked to perfection in Hyderabadi style (south Indian).
As the colder months approach, Darbar is definitely one to add to your own ‘to eat’ list! Everything we ate tasted unique and the spices used were different for each dish. Nothing tasted the same and the meat to sauce ratio was spot on. I can’t stand it when you order something and you get a few pieces of meat in a big bowl of sauce. There are still lots of other dishes on the menu I want to try and I’ll also be reordering some of the dishes I’ve already tried. We’ll be taking our family and friends to Darbar for dinner soon and we know they’re going to love it as much as we did!
Phone: (02) 6548 5117