Kate reviews: Mrs Singh — ‘there’s so much to try’
88 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
Clearly things have changed a little since I headed out on the weekend to try out one of Melbourne’s restaurants, but at the stage, the official advice is we can enjoy these eateries if they are seating less than 100 people, and they adhere to some strict government regulations. The decision on whether to eat out is yours, read to the end for Mrs Singh’s takeaway options.
I’ve been busting to get to this one. Sister restaurant, Daughter-in-Law, was one of my favourite openings of last year; and now this brash, fun wine bar has popped up in the food mecca that is the top end of Flinders Lane.
If you’ve been to Daughter-in-Law you won’t be surprised by the outrageously vibrant décor at Mrs Singh – from a bright-blue-swirled polished concrete floor, plush emerald green and burnt orange velvet seating, to bold black and white table tops and bar.
The vibrancy carries through to the food. This is as fun as Daughter-in- Law is, and yet it’s still different.
A warning – it’s the kinda place you want to enjoy in a group. There’s so much to try, you can’t fit it all in with just a couple, although we tried.
As is so often the case these days, I could have just worked my way through just about every one of the smaller dishes.
Let’s start with the bread. There’s a reason Jessi Singh makes clear he serves up “inauthentic Indian” – because if he didn’t warn you, you’d wonder what on earth was going on. We had the choice between Comte paratha with chive, coriander and chilli; Tallegio kulcha with mint, chilli and truffle oil; and Blue Cheese naan with caramelised onion and garlic. We went for the latter because, let’s be honest, it sounded the weirdest.
It was great. None of the ingredients too overpowering, it was crispy and tasty, and for good measure came with a bowl of house-smoked butter on the side and a little mango chutney.
The lobster roll with curry chips was a good example of a dish that has somehow come to be standard; but it was the batata chaat that really rocked my socks.
If you like chaat dishes at Indian restaurants, this is like nothing you’ve tasted before. Usually it consists of fried goodies like samosa or pakora, smothered in yoghurt, mint sauce, chutney and the like. This is a cold dish, and consists of a spiced Dutch cream potato croquette, topped with beetroot chutney, Mint chutney, Date and tamarind chutney and roasted cumin yoghurt. Soft and sweet, and a bit sour, with a dash of crunch on top. It was stupendous.
The other welcome surprise from the small plates menu was a duck paratha pancake. More like a pulled pork wrap than a peking duck pancake, this was a wholemeal buttery paratha flatbread, topped with roasted boneless duck, coleslaw with spicy mayo, duck fat mango chutney, wrapped and seasoned with gunpowder seasoning. It’s like your favourite souva, banh mi, brisket slider, but ten times better (although a challenge to eat with your hands – I nailed it of course).
On to the curries and it was hard to go past the Old School Smoked Lamb Curry. We’re talking slow-cooked, smoked leg of lamb, with ginger, garlic and smoked spiced curry paste – rich, tender, fabulous.
The guys at Mrs Singh are just as proud of their 300-strong wine list, compiled by award-winning sommelier Dheeraj Bhatia (you can even take the booze away); and don’t miss the cocktail list, top points to the Shimla Cup (bourbon, chai masala syrup, Cocchi Americano and bitters).
Of course, these are extraordinary times, and right now some will be choosing not to dine out in the city, and at some stage we may not be able to. That’s why Mrs Singh and sister restaurants Daughter-in-Law and Horn Please are offering 30% off all curries and rice for takeaway if you pick up between 4pm and 9pm daily (or send a ride share driver to pick it up for you).
Some will be choosing to (safely) enjoy this city’s dining while they can, and if that’s you, I’m confident you’ll absolutely enjoy Mrs Singh.