It’s really no secret. Indian Food – I’m a big fan of it. And a new Indian restaurant that I’ve wanted to visit for a while now has been Varq. Owned by a lovely young lady that my sister went to school with, along with her husband who is the Chef, it’s been open in Wembley since late last year.
We walked inside on this particular Thursday and were shown to our table. They have definitely done an excellent job with the fit out – I loved the polished wooden floorboards and slate feature walls! It has quite a modern look to it but still salutes its Indian heritage with some of the artwork adorning the walls. The majority of seating is the usual table and chairs, but there were a few booths and I was pleased when we were shown to one of those. Can be nice to dine in a booth :)
Currently Varq is BYO (wine only with corkage at $5.50 per bottle). We had bought along a bottle of white with us, so were bought an ice bucket and two glasses. We sipped on wine while deciding what to have. We were both pretty hungry so decided we would share a starter and went with the Non-vegetarian platter ($28.50). It was an excellent opportunity to try a few of the tasty morsels listed on the entree menu and included a selection of lahsuni tikka (Tandoori style chicken thighs marinated with garlic, spices and hanged yoghurt), tandoori prawns (Tandoori king prawns marinated with carom seeds and spices), lamb seekh kebabs (Skewered ground lamb kebab with coriander, ginger, garlic and spices.) and lamb cutlets (Oven roasted and spiced succulent lamb cutlets).
I was excited as soon as it arrived to the table! We each received one of the four items listed, and they were presented in an artistic tower, positioned with a skewer. It all looked delicious and as is the norm with Indian food it smelt amazing! So fragrant with all the wonderful spices used to create it. I thoroughly enjoyed this starter. The prawn was giant and so tasty. One of the best prawns I’ve ever eaten – big call I know! I also thoroughly enjoyed the lahsuni tikka and thought using chicken thigh instead of breast added some extra depth to the flavour and meant the meat was beautifully moist. Both lamb items were excellent, the lamb cutlet cooked to pink perfection and the lamb seekh kebab may have looked like a simple Indian style sausage but there was nothing simple about the flavour! The careful combination of spices married up perfectly and with a little dip in the sauce on the side – just lovely!
For our mains we chose two dishes to share, along with saffron rice ($4 per person) and two plain naan ($4 each). It didn’t take too long to arrive and as it was I was glad for the slight sojourn after the quite filling starter.
There must be something about the heady smell of Indian though. When the dishes were arranged on our table it was as though my appetite was renewed. I couldn’t wait to try everything!
Butter chicken ($22). Oven roasted chicken thighs in tomato based creamy sauce with fenugreek leaves. A very popular traditional dish. It’s a favourite of mine and I’m always curious to see how different Chefs prepare this dish. There was a beautiful rich flavour to the sauce and while it didn’t have any of the sweetness that I noticed in other versions of butter chicken, I really liked it. We actually had the chance to speak to the Chef later in the evening and he confirmed that more traditional butter chicken recipes do not have sugar.
We’d been keen then to try one of Varq’s signature dishes and went with the Goat curry ($24). Goat meat curry cooked on the bone. A very popular North Indian meat curry and Varq speciality. We’d both eaten goat previously and while we had enjoyed it, we had found it to be quite a boney meat. So we had that reservation when we ordered it, but we were more than pleasantly surprised when we saw that while there were a few bones it was definitely less than we had expected and the slow cooked meat just fell right off. The rich, gravy was so delicious and the meat itself was a tender delight! Easily the best goat dish I’ve eaten.
Special mention to the naan, an important part of any Indian meal. It was lovely and thin and crispy and the perfect edible utensil for scooping up some sauce and rice :)
Wowsers we were close to full to the brim at this point. Would we like to see the dessert menu? I could barely believe my ears when I heard myself say no! But the friendly waiter was convincing and asked if we would be interested in sharing a dessert… his favourite dessert. I was intrigued…. And we agreed. He assured us it was on the lighter side which was of some consolation to our full bellies.
What arrived was a beautiful Saffron poached pear with cinnamon/vanilla ice-cream ($10). Pretty as a picture and the perfect sweet treat to end the meal as it turned out. The saffron laced syrup enhanced the natural sweetness of the pear and the ice cream gave it a cool and refreshing finish. It was a nice size and when split between two we managed to polish it all off. Our thanks for the opportunity to sample this delicious dessert.
I’d thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Varq and was definitely keen to return! We’d been told that we’d have to try the buttered naan on our next visit. Buttered naan with butter chicken did sound right up my alley.