It’s not surprising the owner of Ish, a modern(-ish) Indian restaurant in Fitzroy, used to own a nightclub in his home city of Chandigarh, India. Ish’s interior is dark and sultry. Red brick, a bronze-lined bar, dark timber panelling, black leather chairs and zebra-print cushions are all set off by candlelight and gold metallic lampshades. The playlists feature the energetic pop of Indian musicians.
Ish occupies two levels. The second is markedly different to the thumping downstairs dining room and bar. It’s lighter, quieter and more spacious. The fit-involves custom Indian designed and made furnishings, such as striking black and white striped pews and cabinets.
Ish’s menu takes dishes from all over India, shakes some of the tradition (and chilli) out, and injects foreign techniques and ingredients.
The rajma chawal is a kidney-bean curry served with rice, typical in northern India. At Ish the beans and rice are cooked like a risotto and served with poppadums.
Tandoori lamb cutlets are served with a turnip and dill mash. And sambar, a southern Indian lentil and tamarind dish, is blended with sticky rice, balled, crumbed and fried like arancini, and served with coconut and tomato relish. There’s gluten-free naan, too.
There are cocktails made with Indian whiskies and ingredients such as kaffir lime. If the sweet, creamy and very pink blood orange lassi cocktail doesn’t grab you, there’s also Kingfisher beer.