The modern and classic collide at Fitzroy’s newest Indian restaurant, ISH.
Standing modestly on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, you wouldn’t know from its appearance that ISH serves up Indian cuisine. But before those without a palate for heat waver at the thought of excessively spicy foods, you should know that ISH isn’t your typical Indian restaurant. It’s Indian-ish, but also Australian; modern-ish, but also traditional.
Having only recently opened its doors, ISH owner Ganeev Bains wanted to bring Indian cuisine to Melbourne: “Indian cuisine is continually evolving and at ISH, we’re hoping to bring this same energy and passion to the table, but with an understanding of how Melburnians like to dine,” says Bains.
Ganeev is no stranger to hospitality: Having previously owned an American restaurant in India, his passion and knowledge of food immediately impresses and is evident in his vision for ISH.
The 80-seater double-story space that is ISH is warm and inviting. In collaboration with Studio Round, the interior was designed by renowned Indian interior designer, Annu Bains. And yes, she happens to be Ganeev’s mother. Personal touches are evident everywhere, including the photographs on the upstairs walls, all taken by Annu herself. Downstairs, exposed brick walls, dark wood, pops of gold and mood lighting provide the perfect ambience for your feast.
Ganeev created the menu in collaboration with Indian chef Sainyam Kapoor (The Park New Delhi, Farzi Cafe), to be executed by Sous Chef Himank Bhardwaj (Barbeque Nation, Taj Group of Hotels.) The menu is split into peckish, moreish, famished, sides and desserts, to conveniently help you choose your dishes based on how hungry you are.
To start, the indore-style corn and pumpkin ‘pokoras’ with scallion garlic tomato sauce is a flavoursome dish full of different textures. A favourite of mine from the moreish dishes is the tandoori lamb cutlets with dill turnip mash, which are succulent and perfectly seasoned. For something more filling, the slow cooked home-style kerala beef curry with malabari parantha is aromatic and melt-in-your-mouth good.
Of course, one of the most well-known Indian dishes is butter chicken. The ISH butter chicken is perfectly tender and generously covered with a rich sauce. Be sure to order a side of the garlic naan to soak up all the extra sauce on your plate that is too delicious to leave behind.
For dessert, you can’t go past the ISH deconstructed chocolate mess. If chocolate is your vice, it’s the ideal finisher.
The cocktail menu is just as interesting, appealing to a variety of tastes. Try the kaffir leaf cooler, made with Four Pillars gin, or the Indian Elixer. If you’re a chilli fiend, there’s even a cocktail for you, the Masala Margarita, comprising house-made masala-infused tequila, cointreau and lime.
Whether you’re opting for a quiet dinner with a friend, or a big night out with a large group, ISH is sure to impress. With its attentive staff and unique take on Indian cuisine, you will no doubt wish you went to ISH sooner.
ISH is open Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm until late.