Sneak peek at nomadic Indian restaurant Enter Via Laundry’s permanent home in Carlton North

After four years of home supper clubs and pop-ups around Victoria, Enter Via Laundry has laid down roots in Carlton North.
After four years of home supper clubs and pop-ups around Victoria, Enter Via Laundry has laid down roots in Carlton North. Photo: Jana Langhorst

Enter Via Laundry is now officially a restaurant, with founder Helly Raichura going from pop-up to permanent and unveiling her most ambitious menu to date.

Aiming for a truer representation of the food of India, Raichura  has debuted a 20-dish Bengali banquet at her Carlton North restaurant, where she cooks for just 20 guests a night and combines luxury with tradition.

A long table in a midnight blue and gold-hued room will seats 12 guests who dine together, while eight others sit in a more conventional dining room at the front of the restaurant.

A large central room with a single table will give the feeling of dining in someone's home.
A large central room with a single table will give the feeling of dining in someone's home. Photo: Jana Langhorst

Raichura, who's from Gujarat on India's west coast, has learned an entirely new cuisine for this menu and is  serving dishes as they would appear in Bengal, rather than tweaking them to Australian tastes or expectations.

"It's very important now for us to preserve the way we have always eaten. If I start breaking apart all the dishes and serving them in a very Western format, I think after a few years we won't have a cuisine that's Indian," says Raichura, who started Enter Via Laundry in 2018.

A 10-dish bhoj, a Bengali procession of dishes with contrasting textures and flavours, will is the climax of the menu and lasts for more than an hour. Raichura is showing lesser-seen preparations, such as Murray cod jhol with eggplant, employing only two spices. Curries are in the minority, with lamb chop smoked in paperbark one of only two dishes featuring onion and garlic. 

Helly Raichura says she's moved on from the fine-dining plating she used at the Enter Via Laundry pop-ups.
Helly Raichura says she's moved on from the fine-dining plating she used at the Enter Via Laundry pop-ups. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

"I want to do it the way it should be done. It's going to be very authentic – but it's going to be extremely high quality."

Using native Australian ingredients such as bush tomatoes and saltbush reflects how people cook in India, using what's locally available, says Raichura. Wines are also all Australian, while local spirits join Indian whisky.

Specially sourced Indian artefacts, such as bespoke marble boxes from Agra for sweets and bronze servingware from Gujarat, will contribute to the homely feeling of the converted terrace building.

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Guests enter not via a laundry, but through a lounge decorated with jute rugs and some of Raichura's favourite artwork from India, where they'll be served drinks and snacks.

Large gold chandeliers, linen tablecloths and a six-drink pairing  are the only reminders you're at a restaurant, with the rest of the experience channelling the Indian tradition of hospitality at home, including the way dishes are served.

Raichura, who has graduated from hosting supper clubs of modern Indian food at her home to this bold statement on Indian food in Australia, says she's excited to finally break away from conventions and present fine-dining on her own terms.

Marble boxes from Agra were made especially for the restaurant and hold small sweets.
Marble boxes from Agra were made especially for the restaurant and hold small sweets. Photo: Jana Langhorst

"We're not leaving out anything that a luxurious offering would have. We're very luxurious, but in a different format," she says.

The Bengali menu will be offered for at least six months, given the small number of guests each night, before Raichura explores other Indian regional cuisines such as Mughlai or southern Indian.

Open Thu-Sat from 7pm and Sun from 12.30pm.

Nicholson Street, Carlton North (address provided on booking), entervialaundry.com.au