24 West Row, Melbourne Building city, ACT 2601(06) 6162 1845
|Opening hours||Lunch Mon to Fri, dinner seven day|
|Features||Licensed, BYO, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Chef||Venkatesh Ramachandran and Anil Uniyal|
Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012
No other Indian restaurant in Canberra hits the highs of Jewel of India in our experience. This place (or rather these eateries, since there are two, another in Manuka) is distinguished by the freshness and distinction of its curries – no one-size-fits-all gravies, and a sense here that you’re eating decent ingredients put together by a serious kitchen.
Jewel of India is not super-contemporary and nor does it mix up its cuisines in the modern Aussie way. The menu is to a fair extent the kind you’ll be familiar with from any number of Indian restaurants – you’ll find rogan josh, vindaloo and butter chicken, saag dishes, aloo dishes, and variations on naan. But when you order butter chicken at Jewel there’s nothing bland about it. It’s a dish rich with tomato, fresh with spice and more rich than creamy.
Dahl makhani is a firm favourite, a mild, lovely dish of black lentils, enriched with rather a lot of butter. Another is fish methi masala, with fish of exemplary delicacy and sweetness in a sauce of fenugreek and mustard.
The Rajasthan hunter’s goat curry is one you’ll find in the city, but not in Manuka – the city restaurant has a focus on regional specialties. It’s another great dish, pretty fiery, and red and deeply spiced with mace, cloves and cinnamon.
The look at both places is pretty conservative, with tidy tablecloths, and comfortable seats, but the lack of excitement in the setting is soon forgotten in the good, knowledgeable service and excellent food.
The wine list is well-priced, with Nick O’Leary’s wines a prominent local offering.
Also in Manuka: first floor (no wheelchair access), Manuka Court, 11 Bougainville Street, 6295 7037, same hours.
How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20