Indian-inspired Elichi is sibling to Babu Ji in St Kilda, and Hawthorn’s [Piquancy](https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/restaurants/piquancy, all by restaurateur Mani Waraich.
The eatery is on a relatively quiet shopping strip, just over the road from the beach, among suburban staples – a grocer, butcher and bakery. Elichi (pronounced "eh-lychee") is the Punjabi word for “cardamom”.
The menu takes conventional Indian and lightens it, bringing in Australian herbs and flavours. The panipuri (traditionally a fried, crisp shell filled with flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chilli, chaat masala, potato and onion) is lifted with finger lime and mint. Lamb ribs are roasted with saltbush and cumin. A cold dish of whipped-garlic labneh and roasted Jerusalem artichokes is another standout.
There are crowd-pleasers, too: beef masala, butter chicken, Otway pork vindaloo. The sundried tomato and mozzarella naan is reminiscent of a toasted sandwich, and a black garlic butter naan is sweet enough to pass as dessert. On the dessert menu itself, a rich cardamom-flavoured dome of cheesecake, with Old Monk rum (an Indian dark rum, aged for a minimum of seven years) jelly, pineapple sorbet and toasted almonds.
The wine list is Australian-heavy, or you can BYO. And as at Elichi’s siblings, a Grab Your Own beer and cider fridge encourages you to get up and choose from 40-plus local and international labels for $10 a bottle, some you might not have come across before.
Inside, the 70-seat space is moody without pretention. Concrete floors, black matte seating and dark wallpaper are softened by the storefront’s full-length windows, and wave-like corrugated timber accents that match the tables.
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