Monday February the 6th 2006
14 Bourke Street Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Welcome to my first ever restaurant review!
I am not 100% sure how to pull the photos off, so am anxious to choose the right place, it is however a Monday night, which is the one night a week some restaurants close.
Central Melbourne however rarely closes, so most places are open...except that is for my first choice.
I spotted 'the magic monkey' complete with animated monkey neon sign and decided this was the place, however it was closed...perhaps next time.
Then I spotted a mongolian BBQ place, where the chef cooks your meal on a big grill in seconds called 'kahn' but decided that photos of the grill would be harder than just about anything else, perhaps another time when I feel braver.
Finally I spotted Red Pepper Indian Restaurant. A new place, the menu says 'opening week' and I do recall walking past previously before it was open, so they aren't just making that up.
The place from the outside looks polished and new, but to my alarm they only have 1 customer! normaly this would cause me to keep walking, but I have an awesome head cold and curry is the cure (possibly) and the lack of customers means photos should be easier.
First I survey my surroundings before entering.
The Restaurant is located near the Victorian Parliament, at the top end of Bourke Street
My waiter is Mizu, he later turns out to also be the owner, he seats me at the table right next to his only other customer.
The other customer is an Indian fellow, perhaps thats a good sign, an Indian eating at an Indian restaurant, perhaps he works there as he has no food, except he looks lost and confused, I predict he may be fresh off the plane.
The menu comes with a full bottle of chilled water - always good, I decide to have onion Pakora as an entree, lamb vindaloo with steamed rice and a garlic naan for the main, and a bottle of sprite.
Indian fellow at the next table orders the cheapest thing on the menu and decides against a drink, hes happy with the water, my suspicions are confirmed, he is fresh off a plane, broke and alarmed that prices are 20x what he was paying before he left.
My entree comes after a long wait, which is strange as theres frantic action in the kitchen and only 2 customers.
Onion Pakora - its not fried chicken, it is whole slices of onion battered and fried, sort of like onion rings, but the batter has spices. The accomponiments are minted yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney.
The presentation is good, the flavour and texture are good, the oil used to fry is cleary fresh, the date and tamarind chutney is unusual and different (which is a good thing)
The entree is cleared away and I order another sprite, my fellow diner has his main course, plain naan bread, steamed rice, steamed vegetables...about $6 worth of food, he seems annoyed, but also intruiged as to why I am taking photos of my food.
My waiter Mizu asks me where I am from, what I am doing, will I PLEASE tell my friends about his restaurant....I am guessing things are not going too well for him, I am reminded of bhabu baht in seinfeld and his pakistani restaurant.
One good thing, Mizu tells me the lamb vindaloo is a hot dish, would I please be liking it hot, or VERY hot?
I of course want very hot, and thank him for asking, its surprising how often restaurants these days are afraid to make anything actually hot (as in spicy), on reflection perhaps this is why he has so few customers.
Lamb Vindaloo, Steamed Rice, Garlic Naan - hiqh quality presentation again, good serving size, the promised very hot is merely quite hot, but better than average.
Mizu checks if all is OK, and then leaves me alone, much appreciated.
Now some bonus points for Red Pepper, as soon as I place my napkin on the table, Mizu springs from the shadows to ask me if I would like anything else, I tell him I am done and he says 'I shall get the bill then'
You would think most restaurants would want you out when you are finished right? If you are by yourself you probably arent interested in sitting and talking to your hand/shadow or playing the brick breaking game on blackberry, but no, many places I have sat 20 minutes, staring, waving, and then eventually going to the counter to pay. So special achievement award for Red Pepper Indian Restaurant for understanding the needs and wants of the solo diner.
I pay, thank Mizu, wish him luck with his new business and leave, satisfied.
Heres a picture of the door, full flash, red eye reduction on, strobing the interior of the restuarant
The bill is as follows,
2 x sprites $7 - !!!! at least they were bottles and not post mix, but this is too high
Onion Pakora $6.50 - good serving size, good value
Lamb Vindaloo $17.00 - a bit overpriced, it was nice though
Plain Rice $3.50 - you get a lot, perhaps a little expensive though
Garlic Naan $4.50 - this is too much, competitors would have these for $3