There are very few times that we decide to try out Indian restaurants in Melbourne. Our visit to Madras Banyan happened because a friend had been there and recommended it. And the name did capture our attention especially because there are only a handful restaurants serving South Indian fare here.
Madras Banyan Tree (or the MBT brand) has been in operation since 2002. At the moment, there are 2 restaurants, one in the CBD and one in Glen Huntly, which is the one I visited. There is a Clayton restaurant in the pipeline which will be opening soon.
Having read a bit about the history of this brand, my expectations were rather high about the place.
We walked in a Sunday evening and the place was pretty empty to our surprise. The staff acknowledged us immediately and seated us. Bought out both the drinks and food menu soon enough.
South Indian food can be a pretty vague term as it covers an entire region of India and the food varies widely between states. The food at Madras Banyan is predominantly from Tamil Nadu (especially from the Chettinad region) with a bit from other regions like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh thrown in.
And while we were making our selections, a plate of pappadums arrived. Always a happy sight, especially if you have little ones with you. There was a green yoghurt chutney to accompany the pappads. Now, I have a complaint with most Indian restaurants here when they serve this green coloured chutney. How difficult is it to make a fresh mint and coriander paste and add it to the curd instead of giving this obviously artificially coloured chutney.
For drinks, I decided to go for a salt lassi. I was hoping it would be the South Indian style lassi which I absolutely adore. And it didn’t disappoint; full of flavour and done exactly how I enjoy it. A must try during this season. The hubby decided to stick with a glass of his favourite Glenfiddich.
For starters, we decided to sample a traditional Chettinad favourite – Kola Urundai (deep fried spiced lamb mince dumplings). The flavour was good but it was fried a tad bit extra that the dumplings lost all its succulence and was a little hard. And they weren’t a pretty sight either!
My son has become a huge Uttappam fan and so he went for his favourite type; the Tomato Onion Uttappam (rice pancakes topped with tomatoes and onions). The Uttappam came with an assortment of chutneys. The entire combo was just average; the sambhar and onion chutney was good though.
Though we wanted to try the traditional goat biryani, it was not available so settled for the Murgh dum biryani. Again, an average dish. The meat was cooked well and the rice was flavourful from the medley of spices but still there was that oomph factor lacking.
The next 2 items we ordered were the Malabar parotta (a flaky Indian flatbread from Kerala) and aatirachi kozhambu (lamb curry cooked in traditional Chettinad style). The parotta was no good; I am doubtful it came out of the frozen section of some supermarket. The lamb curry was good, probably the best thing that we had that day. The flavours were rich and deep but wish there were more pieces for the cost.
Overall, a very average experience. I don’t think I will really visit this place again though.
My rating: 6.5/10
Madras Banyan Tree
109 Grange Road,
Phone no: 03 9041 5758
Monday – closed
Tuesday to Sunday – 6 pm to 10 pm
Sunday brunch special – 12 pm to 3 pm
Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by me.