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Published July 27th 2015
Find refreshing flavours at Mint Leaf
Not far from the well trodden Burgundy Street cafes and notable dinner spots, is an unexpected surprise in Mint Leaf Indian Restaurant. Trawling for a car park along Yarra Street one night, Mint Leaf's welcoming lights seemed far more appealing than having to trudge back to the main drag and then decide where to eat. I'm glad we took that chance.
Hidden in Yarra Street, Mint Leaf is a happy discovery.
Finally, Indian food that comes alive with flavours from Northern India and the Tandoori oven. I really didn't expect anything more than the homogenous pureed vegetables and spice that are the anticipated fare peppered through the suburbs, reliant on take-away trade, so when the main courses delivered tasty hits of mustard seed, coconut cream, curry leaf, pepper and what must be time-honoured cooking styles, Mint Leaf was suddenly worth a mention.
Not your average ho-hum spicy cuisine. By the time I realised Mint Leaf was worth a mention, dinner was disappearing fast.
Entrees include the usual suspects plus a good smattering of Tandoor cuisine. If our dinner for two was instead a crowd, I would have tried Tandoori chicken, ordered as half or whole ($9.50/$16.95), but Tandoori Sizzler was also good value with two pieces each of chicken tikka, seekh kebab (marinated lamb mince skewer), Tandoori chicken and lamb cutlets, heavy on the spicy yoghurt flavours and good value at $20.00.
Two orders of garlic naan filled a basket for us and the menu offered nine different flavours ($2.00-$3.50 each). Bread basket for $12.50 gives a taste of four varieties. We heartily enjoyed lamb and beef main courses with saffron rice and passed on the small selection of desserts. Banquets for two or more were good value at $35-$45. Our bill was convincingly under $50 a head for two courses with naan and wine – a bottle of Four Sisters Sauvignon Blanc ($18.00 from memory).
Seemingly a local secret,the restaurant filled during the evening and many more collected take-away dinners.
Service was absolutely with a smile when it existed at all, but we did find it slow and felt ignored for most of the night. Luckily we were happy to linger and watch other tables around us enjoy more prompt attention. Perhaps they were regular locals. Certainly a steady stream of people collecting take-away orders kept the kitchen busy – a good sign. Ultimately, I've come away from Mint Leaf knowing that Indian cooking is an art that is, thankfully, still practised by some.