MELBOURNE | Elchi is new restaurant from Punjub-born and raised owner/chef Manpreet Sekhon. It’s her third venue, coming after the popular Eastern Spice in Geelong and Masti in Fitzroy. I was recently invited in to take a look.
Occupying the space that was once home to George Calombaris’ Press Club, there’s not much that’s changed visually, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a beautiful light space, with plush leather horseshoe booths, a eye catching copper ceiling, and golden hued lighting. Opulent without being stuffy.
The restaurant continues the path set by Manpreet at her other restaurants, in her most upmarket venue yet. It’s about challenging what Melburnians think Indian food is, serving dishes that have their origins in the homes and street food stalls of India, in a contemporary way, making use of the best produce and ingredients that Australia has to offer.
The menu is broadly split into snacks, larger dishes, and accompaniments, and desserts. Start with golgappa (aka pani puri). Potato, green chilli, and tamarind dressing eaten as a ‘shot’ inside a crisp puffed dough casing. There’s the traditional version, plus a couple boozy takes. Another starter worth hitting up is Mumbai street snack vada pao – a well spiced potato patty served with chutney and lettuce and sauce inside a soft bun.
For larger dishes, the signature Amritsari fish, a whole fried spiced snapper, served whole and curved on the plate, with lime, tamarind, roasted rice, cherry tomatoes, and mint dressing, is delicious. You also need to try what’s arguably the highlight of the menu, ‘not your average chicken tikka’. Wonderfully charred and succulent chicken thighs, served with an addictive tomato-chilli caramel.
Black Beluga dal makhni with a serve of yakhni mushroom, wild mushroom, and truffe pulao, is a great way to finish your savoury dishes before moving onto dessert.
For drinks, it’s a two page selection of well chosen Aussie and international wines, local craft beer and cider, and a small spirits selection. The cocktail list is where it’s at, featuring a tasty selection of Indian inspired creations. Try the ‘Roses are red?’, a fragrant blend of gin, rosewater, and creme de violette. For non-alcoholic options, there’s mocktails, plus the full range of Strangelove sodas.
72 Flinders Street
Telephone: (03) 9654 6717
Sun: 12:00pm to 3:00am; 6:00pm to 10:30pm
Wed – Sat: 6:00pm to 10:30pm