Food is a family affair for Ravnish Gandhi. From 1990 to 2015, Gandhi, a third-generation restaurateur, worked at his parents’ Indian diner Bombay by Night before opening his own restaurant, Southall, in 2015. Located on Carlisle Street, Southall – a cosy 35-seat venue – served St Kilda for eight years before closing its doors late last year.

Southall has now relocated to a larger space in Hampton, with room for about 40 diners inside and another 30 in the outdoor courtyard. “St Kilda became too small, and we had no potential to grow further in terms of our menu or seating,” Gandhi tells Broadsheet. “We wanted a place where you could just walk to the beach … this place popped up and we made a decision in literally five minutes.”

As for the menu, which is influenced by different regions across India, mainstays include classics like chicken tikka masala, a smoky 48-hour charcoal tandoor-cooked kaali daal, saag paneer and lamb biryani. On the sweeter side of things, dessert is prepared by Gandhi’s mum Arvind – as it has been since 1990 – carrying over Bombay by Night’s offerings of gulab jamun, mango kulfi and roasted almond and praline kulfi. “She still insists on making it and will not give us charge of it,” Gandhi laughs.

Never miss a Melbourne moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

New additions include the lamb shank rezala – a mild curry slow-cooked in broth with dark fragrant spices from the east Indian state of West Bengal. There’s also a Goan-style fish curry with house-made coconut cream (using fresh, whole coconuts) plus gobi Manchurian, a crispy fried cauliflower dish seasoned with carom seeds and ginger.

Southall’s wine offering has seen a refresh too, with 12 reds and 14 whites on the list. There are also Aperol and limoncello spritzes perfect for warmer nights.

Much like the St Kilda venue, Southall’s Hampton fit-out is sleek and pared-back, complete with exposed brick accents, timber panelling, deep red chairs, crisp white tablecloths and brass lighting. “I like to go to places that are cosy and seem to be a little lived-in,” Gandhi says.

Having also been a photographer since 1995, you’ll find some of Gandhi’s works – capturing his travels around India – alongside black and white family pictures hung on the walls. “The restaurant is an extension of my family and who we are,” he says. “I love photography, I love music and I love good food.”

Family has always remained an important part of the Southall blueprint. You’ll occasionally find Arvind and Gandhi’s father Jaspal (who previously worked in the kitchen) on the floor, interacting with a clientele who have been coming to the family’s restaurants since 1990.

Southall
400 Hampton Street, Hampton
No phone

Hours
Mon to Tues 5:30pm–9:30pm
Wed to Sat 5:30pm–9pm

cafesouthall.com