I was on the search for suitable pre-comedy show eats down the Trades Hall end of Lygon Street and was in a bit of a bind, being that I’m generally not all that up on restaurants in Carlton that aren’t within walking distance of the Nova Cinema (priorities). So I threw a question out on the Twitters in order to try and narrow down to a couple of vegie-friendly suggestions, and those good folks at Where’s the Beef kindly put forward three likely candidates: Hotel Lincoln, Ying Thai 2 and Namaste.
Ultimately the dining destination was in the hands of Rob, who was joining me for dinner and comedy times. As it was Passover, or “no bread for Jews time”, Hotel Lincoln was quickly dismissed, and the thought of curry was too much to resist, so to Namaste we went.
We started with a serving of aloo to share (just cauliflower rather than cauli and potatoes, which is interesting). The spices that the cauliflower florets had been fried with turned them eye-searingly pink, they were quite a sight to see! They were also deliciously more-ish, and we probably could have devoured another plate of them quite happily.
For my main I went with a dhal makhani, a black lentil dhal. It was hearty and tasty, with a deceptive spicy kick to it, which built the more of it I ate. I was just able to manage it, but any higher and it would have been the death of me. It wasn’t even a chilli-marked dish! What a spice weenie I am. Rob is an even worse spice weenie than I am, and his lamb biryani was a lot hotter than he was expecting, though he still seemed to enjoy it, being particularly pleased that as a dish it hit quite a few food groups.
Being terrible, I was completely unfeeling to Rob’s bread exile and ordered myself a serving of garlic naan, because if it’s acceptable for me to eat a dish with bread acting as cutlery, there is no power on earth that will stop me doing so. I tend to judge Indian places on the quality of their naan, and the ones I sampled at Namaste were pretty damn good: properly crisped, with a buttery touch in the hot centre, and sprinkled with crushed garlic which proved to be enhancing rather than overpowering.
Namaste is quite simple and unpretentious, and was certainly busy on a Tuesday night, with plenty of students, couples, groups of friends and even a few comedians crowding its tables and chowing down on quick dinners of dosas and lassis. I’ll certainly be keeping it in mind next time I’m feeling hungry in that part of town.
104 Lygon Street, Carlton
Ph: 9654 0550