On a short trip to Melbourne, BILL WATT discovers some culinary magic at a strangely named Indian restaurant.
HORN PLEASE? The restaurant my daughter had picked for dinner in her new home town of Melbourne had a rather weird name.
But when I mentioned it, via WhatsApp, to a mate who is expert in all things Indian, he was impressed with the moniker ... "Horn please is on the back of nearly every truck in India".
So, with a small mystery solved my wife Marie and I ventured off via Tram 11 to meet Erin at the Fitzroy North restaurant with the funny name.
And, thank goodness we did. This restaurant is a joy. From our first step into this spacious, brightly decorated eatery with its courteous, helpful staff I knew we were going to enjoy the evening.
The wonderfully tasty food, only confirmed these high expectations.
Now, my dinner companions present a few combined issues when eating out - one of the lovely ladies is gluten free and lactose intolerant, and the other is mostly vegetarian, though that awkward word pescatarian is more accurate. So, you can understand a little subtlety and intelligence was needed in the meal selection. That's why I kept right out of the ordering process, on the grounds that whatever arrived would be fine by me.
However, I did take the trouble to order myself a rather nice beer from their impressive drinks menu - an IPA made by the Wolf of the Willows brewery in the Melbourne Bayside suburb of Mordialloc.
But back to the food. Our order was as follows:
Mixed papadams with four four chutneys ... Mint, date and tamarind; mango; chilli and pickle (I think). Yummy!
Plain naan (not for our gluten-free member) ... One of my favourite things in the world when done properly, and this certainly was.
Butternut squash curry - an exquisitely delicious creamy coconut curry.
Coconut fish curry. Generally I've not been one for mixing fish and curry, but this dish proved my reluctance to be completely wrong. I couldn't get enough.
Aloo Baingan. Here's the menu description: "Spiced chunks of Dutch cream potatoes and aubergine (eggplant) ratatouille, mango powder". Once again, I am not big on eggplant, but this dish was something special.
All served with steamed rice.
To the restaurant's credit, the main meals were large enough to more than satisfy my companions, but it left me out on a limb and I foolishly knocked back the chance of a fabulous dessert option. Next time it won't happen, and a plate of gulab jamun (those tasty Indian doughnut thingies), will be demolished by yours truly.
All in all, though, it was a special night. Great company and great eating with more than adequate drinks - and at a very reasonable price considering the stellar quality.
So, if you're visiting Melbourne, take a short journey out of the CBD with tram No. 11 (always check the number) to 167 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, where you will find the excellent India restaurant with the funny name - Horn Please!