A stalwart of the North Essendon restaurant strip, The Lion of India (192 Keilor Rd, North Essendon. Phone: 03 9379 2161) is big on quality and the abundance of fragrances and flavours that Indian cuisine has to offer all in a modern surrounding.
The Lion of India specializes in Tandoori Indian cuisine and as always there are so many options that it can be hard to settle on just one meal, especially if you love this type of cuisine. The Lion caters very well for both carnivores and vegetarians with at least 15 dishes in each camp.
We started our Bollywood feast with a selection of Pakora dishes including Chicken, Paneer, Cauliflower and Eggplant Pakoras. And although they were delicious, they were slightly over cooked in the deep fryer as they were a dark shade of brown rather than golden brown, resulting in the spices losing their flavour. An interesting accompaniment to the appetizers was finely chopped Granny Smith apples, a nice refreshing addition to a deep fried dish.
The mains are just as tasty and will definitely leave you feeling full to the brim. We selected a couple wet curries and a couple of dry curries. The Chicken Shahi Korma was creamy with coconut and cashews with a mild spice factor while the Beef Curry was not only spicy but packed with a multitude of spices and herbs – perfect for soaking up with some hot buttery and garlicky Naan bread.
Of the dry curries we tried the Bhuna Gosht which was deliciously fragrant and tasty that I can still taste the curry paste with the traditional Saffron rice which mixed in herbs and grains rather than the urine yellow Anglo stuff. The Chicken Makhmali was an interesting selection, but lacked the excitement the other dishes had.
The service was a tad slow considering the restaurant was only a third full but was supplemented by the charms of the waiter we had whose voice would make Kamahl proud. The modern surroundings of the restaurant new venue work well and shy away from the typical dingy overly crowded feel that so many other suburban Indian restaurants have.
The Lion of India is definitely worth the visit and although Indian food is always overpriced for what it is, somehow you leave satisfied, full and wanting to go a second round after resting for an hour and knocking back a mango lassi.
3.5 of 5