Two weeks ago, if you wanted to enjoy Helly Raichura’s food, you’d have to book ahead and strap in for a multi-course meal at her 20-seat restaurant, Enter Via Laundry.

Now, all you need is to stroll down Nicholson Street and walk into the new Enter Via Laundry Bar.

The new offering opened on Wednesday April 10. What once served as one of the 20-seat fine diner’s two dining rooms has been transformed into a laid-back bar – but the restaurant hasn’t lost any seats, with the welcome area, where diners would enjoy a pre-dinner drink, converted into a new dining room. At the bar, guests are invited to enjoy snacks prepared in the main restaurant kitchen alongside cocktails designed by Tom McHugh (ex-Hazel).

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In the restaurant, Raichura and the team curate each menu around a different Indian cuisine, inspired by Raichura’s research trips. (They’re currently spotlighting Keralan food until July, and previous menus have showcased Goan, Kashmiri and Mughlai food, among others.)

The bar gives Raichura an opportunity to revisit hits from past menus, and to move away from the regionally focused offering to serve dishes found throughout the Subcontinent.

The latter include bataka na bhajiya (potatoes fried in gram flour batter served with house-made tomato-and-pineapple ketchup); chakhna (or bar snacks – here, it’s spicy fried peanuts); and falooda, a layered dessert-drink hybrid that Raichura makes with ice-cream, house-made rose syrup, basil seed, vermicelli, cashews, jelly and fruit.

Dishes she’s revisiting include nargisi kofta (Scotch eggs with spiced chicken mince) served with punchy pickled onions from the restaurant’s Mughlai menu, and, from the Bengali menu, patra poda: skewered prawns or oyster mushrooms marinated in coconut and mustard, wrapped in silverbeet, and charred over fire.

Cocktails are inspired by some of the Indian drinks Raichura enjoyed as a kid – including mango lassi, sugarcane juice and kala khatta (crushed ice with jambu syrup). McHugh’s take on the former mixes mango gin, fresh mangoes, lemon myrtle, mountain pepper and yoghurt. A ginger spritz plays with the flavours of sugarcane juice, adding ginger, rhum agricole (sugarcane rum), and jasmine and Ceylon teas to create a light, blush-coloured drink. And his version of kala khatta is a boozy drink made with Davidson’s plum and served with a sprinkling of chaat masala on top.

There’s also a handful of wines by the glass and some classic cocktails featuring a good helping of Dutch Rules dry gin and West Indian bitters.

Since its start as a weekly degustation dinner prepared in Raichura’s home kitchen, Enter Via Laundry has taken many different forms. The bar is just the latest iteration of a constantly evolving offering.

The decor nods beautifully to this with photography that Raichura says shows “the story of Enter Via Laundry”. Images span from the first article written about the project, when guests literally entered the dining room via Raichura’s laundry, to highlights from the chef’s most recent Kerala research trip.

Enter Via Laundry Bar
507 Nicholson Street, Carlton North

Hours:
Wed to Sun 6pm–10.30pm (walk-ins only)

@entervialaundry
entervialaundry.com.au