64 Colbee Court Phillip, Australian Capital Territory 260602 6282 1483
|Opening hours||Thu-Fri noon-2pm,Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
We like to roam the suburbs when it comes to restaurant reviews - and coming across a popular looking restaurant filled with diners in the heart of Woden's industrial burbs is gold. But Indian Affair has been in this spot in Colbee Court for years, diners silhouetted against tinted windows on the same strip as a Pilates studio, a vet clinic where small dogs wrestle in the foyer, and a paint store.
It's bustling tonight, with plenty of full tables, and people ducking in to grab their takeaway. It's a long menu - a procession of kebabs, pakoras, samosas, chicken tikka, fish curry and kormas. The wine list is small, somewhat generic, but there is a full complement of Indian lassi, from a pastel pink rose flavoured one to a bright yellow mango.
The waitress kicks things off well, guiding us through the dishes with easy banter and asking all the right questions - how hot would we like things? Can she bring a little basket of pappadums for us to nibble on? It's very welcoming, and a friendly, polished start to the night.
The pappadums arrive swiftly and we have time to notice quirky touches around the room – sparkling jewellery in a glass case by the wall, a beamed ceiling that lends the dining room a slight Alpine chalet look. You have to applaud the decorator's sense of humour – there are stuffed plush toy deer heads on the beams.
But to the food, and there is a perfect starter in the form of punjabi chicken chaat ($11.50) – a plate of cold tender chicken pieces in a light yoghurt sauce studded with red onion and tomato chunks, refreshing but spicy, and with plenty of zing to whet the appetite.
The richly piled vegetable biryani ($18.90) is wonderfully spicy but too heavy - the rice is stolid and the vegetables soft rather than tender crisp. Alongside it comes an aloo gobi ($15.90) which is all big chunks of cauliflower, again thickly covered in spices and again a little overcooked for my taste.
But the beef dalcha ($18.90) is quite good, with good tender meat well scattered with spicy yellow lentils. Cheese and garlic naan are temptingly soft, fluffy and oozing with melted cheese in a very good way – it's very hard not to order more.
It might be called Indian Affair but it's also a family affair – owner Surinder Singh and her husband Gurmer have run the restaurant and its counterpart in Civic for nearly 16 years and she says their kids, who are also in hospitality, are taking over very soon.