551 Barkly Street West Footscray, VIC 3012
|Opening hours||Daily 5pm-10.30pm,Wed-Sun noon-3.30pm|
|Features||BYO, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||03 9689 0998|
IN INDIA, HYDERABAD IS THE princely mogul capital city of Andhra Pradesh in the country's south. In West Footscray, Hyderabad Inn is a prosaic, well-priced restaurant in Barkly Street's Indian enclave - a go-to for Bollywood DVDs, saris, speciality groceries and restaurants.
Opened in 2011, it's run and owned by Nageswararao (Nagesh) Relangi, a Hyderabad native who cooked in India and at international hotels in Dubai before coming to Australia and running Footscray's popular Dosa Hut in 2007 (which he left in 2010).
Hyderabad Inn's mega menu has 100-plus mains and as many starters - and that's not including the separate south Indian menu. All told, it covers the whole country: Punjabi dishes of the north, Indo-Chinese dishes, dosa of the south, tandoor dishes and Hyderabad specialities. Perhaps it tries to cover too much ground.
Some dishes are routine - not bad, not spectacular. The navratan korma, a creamy cashew mixed-vegetable dish, has a good ratio of sauce to cubed carrot, potato, cauliflower and cashew, but may be missing the complexity of garam masala, coriander and cumin apparent in other versions of the dish.
The popular butter chicken consists of a mild, creamy-tomato tangy sauce with a thin body, but it's partnered with juicy chicken-tikka pieces.
The ginger-slivered slow-cooked dhal makhani has a good, varied texture of mixed lentil and kidney beans. They're all pretty-looking dishes - arriving in copper pots and swirled with cream - and they're all enjoyable. But the southern specialities are standouts.
Hyderabadi biryani is as integral to Hyderabad city as coffee is to Melbourne, but with a longer history - it's thought to have been introduced by the mogul monarchy in the 18th century. The onion-rich lamb version is a winner, with an earthy complexity and tender meat pieces marinated for 24 hours (redolent of garam masala, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon) before being cooked with basmati rice and topped with a hard-boiled egg.
Dosa are great, too; there are more than 50 types. The huge trumpet-rolled pancakes, made with fermented rice-and-lentil batter, come plain or filled, with a trio of dipping sauces: spicy sambal, a thin ginger sauce, and cooling coconut chutney. There are dessert dosa, too, with banana or chocolate.
Work is about to start on the restaurant's backyard, which will almost double the dining room. The soon-to-be pergola-covered beer garden will have decorative Bali-style grass huts and should be ready by March, cementing Hyderabad Inn as a go-to for dishes from India's south in Melbourne's west.
Do … Err on the spicier side (medium is mild)
Don't … Forget to read the separate south Indian menu
Dish … Biryani or dosa
Vibe … Slightly lacking
Nina Rousseau is on leave.