A few months ago, my colleague suggested that I should explore a few Indian restaurants one day so he can see what's good to try out. Since the weather has been so cold lately, nothing beats a bowl of hot curry. It was no surprise when I received an invite recently to try out the dishes at The Colonial Restaurant, in Darlinghurst - very close to William Street in Wooloomooloo. In fact, it was actually an easy walking distance from both Town Hall station and Museum station.
We were greeted with a super friendly waitress who looked after us and gave us very detailed descriptions on selected dishes. She was also originally from Vietnam which got the both of us interested with her personal stories before moving to Sydney (me being of Vietnamese heritage while AI travelled to Vietnam in mid 2013) We started off with a complimentary basket of thin and crispy pappadum with creamy mint chutney on the side. The flavour was very light, crunchy and not oily at all so we gobbled these up pretty quickly.
Forgot the name of this drink (arrrghhhh) but I remember that it had a bit of vodka and possibly gin but it wasn't as strong as I initially expected.
Plain Salted Lassi ($4.50)
I had a sip of it and thought that the texture was quite thick but AI really loved it. He commented that it was one of his favourite drinks to have on a sunny day.
Non-Vegetarian Platter: (Clockwise L-R) Tandoori Chicken Tikka, Meat Samosa, Tangari Kebab and Lamb Lollipop served with mint chutney ($14.00)
Although they had not obtained the Halal certification yet, the owner confirmed to us that the meat was sourced from Halal meat shops, which seems to satisfied my friend. After hearing that The Colonial Restaurant was well known for their Indian tapas, we were convinced to try a selection of them for our entrees. Unless you have specific choices on what to get from the tapas menu, I would suggest going for a platter just to sample a bit of everything especially if you are not too familiar with the cuisine.
After taking a very long time to decide, we ended up choosing the non-Vegetarian platter. While the Tangari kebab (chicken drumstick) was nicely seasoned though I did not detect any cheesy flavour even though it was marinated in yogurt, spices and cheese (according to the menu). The marinated tandoori chicken tikka was one of my faves from this platter because of its juicy, tender and spicy flavours which brought heaps of excitement to my taste buds. Another fave of mine was the meat samosa which was deep fried buttered and flakey pastry stuffed with minced lamb, peas and potato. Personally I thought it was very addictive and was really bummed that it was gone. We both enjoyed the Colonial's signature lamb lollipops which were soft, tender and did not have that strong gamey lamb taste which would turn off those who aren't fans of lamb.
$15.00 Lunch Special: Two Curries with Rice - Lamb Rogan Josh and Daal Makhani
For lunch, you can get two curries (selected curries only though) with rice for only $15.00. I had the Lamb Rogah Josh, which contains diced lamb pieces cooked in "Traditional Kashmiri" sauce and spices. This was actually not very spicy yet still full of wonderful bursts of flavour coming from the fall-apart lamb. AI went with the vegetarian Daal Makhani which was whole black lentils cooked with kidney beans, ginger garlic, tomatoes and fresh cream. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it at first because of the sight of fresh cream but it was mixed with the other ingredients so it wasn't as noticeable as I thought. Was surprisingly enjoyable and aromatic that I actually wanted to eat more than half of my share. We thought that we could easily go for another curry but the curries were fairly rich especially with the rice so we both got full very quickly. Both are perfect to have on a cold, windy winter day like the last few weekends.
Lamb Rogan Josh (Individual: $16.00)
Daal Makhani ($12.00)
Garlic Naan Bread ($3.50)
If I didn't order any other dish, I would easily chow down the whole basket of garlic naan bread because it was so good to enjoy with or without the curry for our mains. Very flavoursome though not too strong if you fear of garlic breath. Cannot get enough of the puffy and flaked texture of the bread.
Gulab Jamun ($6.00)
I initially wanted The Colonial Special Creme Brulee but it was unavailable at the time. Thankfully AI's good knowledge on Indian sweets has convinced me to explore the Gulab Jamun. This is actually one of the most popular desserts in the Indian subcontinent. It's basically dumplings made from solidified milk and soaked in a sugary syrup usually made from rosewater, cardamom or saffron. While I was unable to recall which syrup that The Colonial uses, it has a sweet and fruity flavour which takes over the milk taste of the soaked dumpling. I was pretty impressed with this dessert since I never tried Indian desserts before. AI absolutely loved the dessert so much that he was muttering that name for days.
We were very satisfied with this restaurant from the decently-sized aromatic food to the lovely service, tidy decor and calm atmosphere. If you are vegetarian, you would be glad to know that half of the menu consists of non-meat dishes. In terms of pricing, it was pretty reasonable with most dishes costing less than $20.00 (except for lamb shank which was $24.00 for 2 pieces). Will certainly consider about coming back to try more of the tapas and curry dishes to discover more authentic Indian cuisine next time we are in the area or even at their sister restaurant at Leichardt. While I can't confirm what it would be like at night, I would recommend this restaurant for family or friends gatherings and special events.
Disclaimer: The Random Foodie and co dined as guests of The Colonial Restaurant in Darlinghurst. Opinions remain personal.
The Colonial Restaurant
118 Crown Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 8084 6700
Lunch: Tue-Sun: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Dinner: Mon-Sun: 5:00pm - 10:00pm