Scorcher reviews: Curry Cafe Canteen
Curry Cafe Canteen
332 Racecourse Rd
Click PLAY below to hear Scorcher’s review on 3AW Breakfast
There are those restaurants in your ‘hood that you always walk past, often outside meal times, but never seem to find the occasion to go inside.
You catch yourself taking a sly glance at the menu in the window as you rush by, making a mental note of the prices and the dishes you might order.
And you think to yourself: “I gotta try this restaurant some day”.
Curry Café Canteen, on eclectically ethnic Racecourse Road, was my I’ve-gotta-try-this-one-day restaurant.
So on a frigid early winter evening, wearing inadequate clothing and an expectant grin, I decided it was finally time to cross the threshold.
The first thing you notice about Curry Café Canteen, aside from its clunky name, is the stripped back, industrial décor, US rap music wafting from the speakers and lack of any Indian motifs – there’s not a picture of the Taj Mahal in sight.
This is a curry house but not as you know it.
Curry Café Canteen definitely has a cool factor, a spicy swagger that sets it apart from the more daggy Indian places you generally encounter around town.
When Mrs Scorcher and I perched ourselves on tall stools at the long bench tables on a gloomy Sunday evening, the place was empty.
Perhaps, I thought, this really was that neighbourhood establishment that people just walked past and never entered. But within 30 minutes the place was as packed as a piping hot samosa; couples on date night flicked each other’s hair while picking at the pappadums, a timid man, meeting his Indian parents-in-law for the first time, took a back seat when the focus of conversation turned from pleasantries to the food order.
The menu is relatively concise (no more than half a dozen options under each protein section) and caters well to vegans and vegetarians.
The pumpkin masala was a winner, a silky and coconutty knockout.
The chicken kadai, a north Indian dish named after the vessel it’s cooked in, is the curry I’d return for. Loaded with onion, capsicum and garlic, and enlivened with in-house ground spices, this semi-dried curry is a rugged, delightfully ugly, tasty dish.
But the lamb rogan josh, an enduring favourite, while nicely spiced was ultimately unmemorable.
As I’ve stated previously in this space, the delicious duo of bold, flavour-packed curry and fluffy naan is one of my all-time favourite pairings. Don’t even talk to be about strawberries and cream or macaroni and cheese, give me nann and curry any day of the week.
The naans at CCC are a little crispy and flaky for my liking – I prefer a more pillowy, thicker bread to make the most of the puddles of sauce – but that didn’t stop us polishing off four garlicy wedges of the stuff and signalling to the waiter that we required more.
There’s a lot to like about this inspired, pleasingly eccentric suburban curry cave: the dishes are on-point, the prices will cause fits of head-bobbling (mains $13-$15) and the service is as warm as a July evening in Delhi.
So next time don’t be so quick to walk past that elusive eatery. You may just find a diamond in the curry puff.