Unlocking the Vault – Melbourne’s Best Kept Curry Secret
If you’ve ever been to Melbourne, you would know that it isn’t hard to find a decent bite to eat.
I know for the past however long I’ve mainly been posting about holidays, destinations, and basically pure wanderlust (which, as an aside, was the name of a ‘mindfulness triathlon’ that I will also eventually get around to writing about.) Yes, I’ve been on another trip – this time to Melbourne to celebrate our birthdays and catch up with friends. And yes, I had an amazing time – shopping, drinking, eating and lots and lots of laughs. This time around, however, I thought I’d approach writing about the trip from a different direction. Zoom in on one of the highlights.
Last Tuesday, Ryan and I decided that we would like to find a nice Indian place for dinner. He was in meetings all afternoon and delegated the job of finding a suitable restaurant to me. I did what any self-respecting out-of-towner should do, and hit up Zomato. I was immediately over-whelmed by the plethora of options available – God damn you Melbourne, why you so full of culinary delights?!
I sent through some options to Ryan as more than a few grabbed my fancy. And then I found it. It didn’t look like anything special, however I couldn’t go past a rating of 4 out of 5, with over 600 reviews. I cross checked with Google (4.1 out of 5, that’ll do) and finally, checked out the menu.
A whole page of vegetarian options!
Yes, this was definitely the place. It was called Curry Vault.
We booked for 7.30, and when the time came made our way through the cold, windy Melbourne streets to Bank Place in the CBD. We walked past an intriguing looking pub called the Mitre Tavern (which I have plans to properly check out next time I am down), spotted the restaurant’s small facade and headed down the stairs to the basement entrance. But really, with a word like Vault in the name, would you expect any different?
The restaurant was decorated quite plainly, with some interesting abstract art on the walls, far from the ‘hipster’ vibe that most Melbourne eateries demonstrate. It made me think more of someone’s house than an Indian restaurant, however it was clean, cozy and smelled really good – all the things we were after. It was busy, but not packed, and we were quickly greeted by a friendly waiter who gave us a selection of tables to choose from. He gave us menus and took our drinks order, before whisking off to serve the next customer. The menu (which I had only had a cursory glance at) was full of all the typical Indian fare, as well as some more interesting options. I decided on the tandoori mushrooms, and Ryan ordered the Gobi Pakora (cauliflower marinated in chickpea flour and deep fried).
I was intrigued by the idea of the tandoori mushrooms. I was a big fan of tandoori chicken when I ate meat, and I didn’t know how a mushroom substitute would go. But I’m glad I took the risk, as they were amazing. I ate the whole plate. I will preface the rest of the blog by saying that there is only one photo. I was too busy eating to take photos. But then again, those of you who know me won’t be surprised by that.
It’s not really a very blog-tastic photo, so sorry about that. Again, food was calling!
Those little round poppets of tandoori heaven on the right there blew my mind. I’m determined to find somewhere in Brisbane that sells them!
Our mains followed. I asked the waiter his opinion and opted for the pumpkin masala, while Ryan decided on the malai kofta (potato dumplings in a creamy nut sauce). We had a cheese naan, a garlic roti and rice to share and we were set.
The rest of the meal passed in considerable silence. This was largely due to the fact that the both of us were stuffing our faces. I think most of the comments during the remainder of the meal sounded something like this:
“This is really good…this is really, really good!”
“Look how much cheese is in this naan. This is how all cheesy naan should be made”
“I think this is the best indian I have ever eaten” (True story…)
“I’m never going to eat all this…the hotel has a microwave doesn’t it?” (No, it didn’t)
“I’m just gonna have a bit more…I am so, so full though.”
And so on.
We ended the meal decidedly full, sleepy, and wishing just a little bit that we could magically teleport back to our cozy hotel room. We paid, thanked the endlessly helpful waiter, to which he said “You finished that quickly!”, and made our way back into the cold Melbourne night.
I don’t usually like to give restaurants a good wrap unless I’ve been there several times and made sure that it wasn’t a one off fluke. However, the food, atmosphere and friendliness of the staff made the meal memorable for all the right reasons.
If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, I definitely recommend you give it a try. I’d be interested to hear your take on it!