Father-son duo Alex and Chef Monu Gomes have launched a new, Indian menu at Gomes Gastropub on Caine Road. Taking inspiration not from one region in India, but the whole subcontinent, the new menu features home-made and original recipes as well as famous dishes, often with subtle changes.
When Gomes Gastropub first opened in September of 2021, the menu was, frankly, uninspiring pub fare. There were some chicken wings here, spring rolls there.. a variety of snacks with no cohesive overall theme. Which is fine, of course, but it did not elicit the anticipation we felt on hearing they are using the skills of Chef Monu Gomes, who started his career as a professional chef 30 years ago working in restaurants such as La Trattoria and Jimmy’s Kitchen, and is now running Papa Gomes, also in Midlevels. Together, Chef Gomes and Alex have built a menu of mostly traditional Indian dishes, with some innovative twists.
Papdi Chaat (the 'Prince of Chaats') is a very popular North Indian street food of crackers topped with various toppings and chutneys. Banarasi papdi chaat ($68) is specific to one area in India, and in the version we were served, crispy puffed puris were stuffed with sweet, sour and spicy chutneys, herbs chickpeas and yoghurt. The shells are made in house, in a size only just small enough to eat in one bite. They are a light and delicious starter, and Alex assures us they are naturally flavoured and coloured, as no food colouring is in any of the dishes on the menu.
Three sauces are served alongside most dishes here. A traditional mint sauce, a date chutney (date chosen over tamarind because of the natural sweetness not requiring added sugar) that is coloured with beetroot water, and an interesting (but not particularly delicious) potato paste-like chutney.
The Calcutta beetroot baked samosas ($78) are one of the new menu items that have gone 'off-piste'. The samosas are baked rather than fried, and beetroot is used instead of potato because it's texture is similar but has added flavour and colour. We found the pastry a little dry and in need of extra sauce, but the beetroot filling is quite delicious. Is it bad that we want this fried?
To complete the creativity of the baked beetroot samosa, we would also like to see some more inventive plating - perhaps using the mint and date sauces or even the tangy chutney and yoghurt from the papdi chaat.
Moving the to tandoor oven, Tandoor mixed mushrooms ($118) contains seared button, portobello and shitake mushrooms that are topped with cheese and various spices such as dill, mint and fenugreek for a juicy and cheesy snack. Unlike the samosas, these didn't require any extra sauce.
Heading off-menu, we tried the Naanchoz ($68). Resembling bruschetta, herbed tomatoes are served on deliciously warm garlic naan, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The naan bread here is very good, and topping it with spiced tomato is a clever idea, infusing an Italian favourite with Indian flavours.
Another tandoor dish we tried was the Dilli 6 Fish Tikka ($158), which did not stay on our table long. The ling is market fresh every day, marinated overnight and then cooked in the tandoor. The vegetable slices wedged between the fish were deliciously charred and smokey. A tasty dish, even if we feel the portion size is a little small.
The lamb shank in the main Lucknow's lamb shank korma ($188) is cooked at low temperature and under pressure for 14 hours before being served in an extra creamy korma of finely blended cashews and yoghurt. The lamb is fall apart tender due to the sous vide slow cooking, and the gravy is mellow, but for us a little too bland to brighten the generous serving of lamb.
Saving the best until last, the Kadhai Paneer ($108) is a reduction of sweet and sour and spicy sauce, on mild and creamy paneer cheese and bell peppers. This tangy vegetarian dish was one of our favourites.
Chef Gomes light butter chicken ($128) is advertised as being 'low calories', with no tomato or cashew paste used in the sauce which reduces the calorie count. It certainly doesn't taste light, so much so we are curious as to know what the replacements are - but alas they are secret. It's delicious and a must order, even if we think there might still be a few additional calories in there.
The twists on traditional dishes don't always work perfectly, but there is obvious care taken in this menu and some of the dishes on our table were gone fast. The menu is not so large as to be overwhelming, but there is plenty to have you coming back for a second and third visit to try other things. The atmosphere is one of a local community, several TVs will show whatever sporting event is current, the tunes are rocking, and a brisk trade in cold draft beer ensures it is fresh. For those who remember it, Gomes Gastropub is a multicultural version of the Chapel in Happy Valley (closed in 2014). If in Midlevels, we recommend a visit.
And, they are currently offering a killer of a lunch deal. For $78, order from the set menu of three courses (where you can try the butter chicken) AND the fifth person in your group eats free.
📍 No.2, G/F, Midland Court, 58-62, Mid-Levels
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.