You know a restaurant is going to be good when you can smell it from across the street and down the road. Red Pepper is an Indian restaurant situated at the Parliament end of Bourke Street, next to its fancier sister, Green Pepper. During a weekday lunch time, Green Pepper in all its linen tablecloth glory may be devoid of customers, but it’s more than made up for by its bustling sibling next door.
The interior of Red Pepper reminded me a lot of a boarding school mess hall (not that I ever went to boarding school), all wooden floorboards and whitewashed walls, with a couple of paintings hung here and there. But because it was such a nice day, we decided to sit outside and watch Bourke Street pass us by as we enjoyed lunch.
|View of Bourke Street
After ordering at the counter, we took our number and plonked ourselves outside under some umbrellas. The wait for the food was longer than you’d expect from an eat-and-go place in the city, but maybe that was just because I was extra hungry. To the Chris’ disgruntlement, I spent most of the 15 minute wait staring at the two businessmen at the next table dipping naan into their curry, instead of talking to him (sorry Chris).
|Lamb Roganjosh ($12.9)
Chris’ order of Lamb Roganjosh ($12.9) was served with a side of rice, or two naans, or half and half. This was an excellent curry. The gravy was meaty and slightly gamey from the lamb, which was tender and lean; no dodgy off-cuts here! There was quite a wallop of spice, and no coconut milk to tone it down – just the way I like it. Chris had a great time spooning fluffy mounds of rice into his curry. Then we ran into a hitch.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Mixing my curry and rice.” He replied.
“And the curry goes into the rice, not the other way around, or you’ll run out of sauce.”
“No, the rice goes into the curry, you get more sauce that way.”
“But you’ll run out!”
“But you get more sauce this way!”
In the end we reached a compromise; that’s to say I had my way. I’m such a bully (sorry Chris. again.).
Not wanting something that’ll weigh me down for the rest of the day, I ordered the Daal Tadka ($7), which was a dish of yellow lentils prepared Indian style, served with two pieces of naan. The lentils were well cooked and heavily spiced with an emphasis on the ginger. But the real star of the show was the naan. Buttery and flaky, two pieces weren’t nearly enough, despite being of a very generous size. Definitely ordering an extra serve next time.
Our lunch was nicely rounded out by a waitress coming out to check up on us and take away our plates; she even had a short chat with us afterwards. I would’ve loved to have lingered some more and people watch, but unfortunately we both had lectures to go to.
Rating: 14/20 – curry goes into the rice.