Type: Restaurant. Bar. Lounge. Indian. Italian. Fusion.
Food et: Garlic Naan, Tandoori Chicken Pizza
Indian. My favourite cuisine. Italian. Classic food that I’ve grown up with. Put them together and you have Digress – Canberra’s first Indian/Italian fusion restaurant.
The day they opened Digress, I got an excitable email from one of my fellow foodie friends exclaiming that “we must try this!!!”. The idea of Indian and Italian food together got us both pretty excited. I think what got us even more excited was the fact that it was something truly new.
So many restaurants open in Canberra these days that are all the same. Cafes are a big thing in Canberra, as are cuisine focused restaurants (ones that do just Thai or just Japanese etc). And Mod Oz high end restaurants, especially, are popping up here like weeds. Tasty. Tasty. Weeds. And as much as I appreciate that kind of dining, it’s nice to see someone have the guts to try something new and completely different.
It took us a while to get ourselves organised, but when we headed to Digress on a cold August night the excitement had built quite high. So had the expectations.
The entrance to Digress is somewhat deceiving. Hidden between the ticketek office and a framing store, you can’t see directly in to the restaurant, so make sure you keep an eye out for the sign above the door and the two friendly dog/dragon statues out the front. They look like they should be out the front of a Chinese restaurant, actually…
Once we entered, we made the journey downstairs in to the lounge and bar area. The area is spacious and trendy – but glaringly empty on this particular Saturday night. Not a good sign…later in the night I theorised this emptiness was due to the ridiculous cocktail prices.
The restaurant area is off to the side of the lounge and is also modernly decorated. I’m going to go out on a limb, but I’m pretty sure purple is the owners favourite colour, it’s everywhere! I personally think that the dining area of any good Indian restaurant is not complete without a TV showing Bollywood movies, and luckily for me Digress did not disappoint. My poor friend K had to spend most of the meal watching me talk to her while watching the TV over her shoulder. It’s mesmerising.
Strangely, you can’t hear the Bollywood music from the TVs…stranger still is that, what music you can hear, is coming from the lounge and seem to consist of bad Blue Light discotheque music. ABBA, The BeeGees, Spice Girls. Utter. Gold. I actually really loved it. It was weird, but fantastic at the same time.
We started off our meal with some naan, as you do. K got the sundried tomato naan and I got the garlic naan. For me the garlic naan was somewhat bland, but I do like them nice and garlicky (like, “kill vampires garlicky”). K said her naan was delicious, though.
For the mains, we decided to try and get our best fusion for our buck – tandoori chicken pasta and tandoori chicken pizza. Staple Indian with staple Italian.
K got the Tandoori chicken pasta (penne), which was creamy and delicious. The tandoori tasted very authentic and like it was made with fresh ingredients.
I got myself the Tandoori chicken pizza and holy crap, I did not regret that decision. This has to go down as probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Ever. The dough was soft, the toppings were a-plenty, the ingredients were fresh and the size was more then filling. I actually felt like I was going to vomit, from being so full – but I just could not stop eating it!!!
The pizza consists of charcoal cooked tandoori chicken; sun dried tomatoes & green chillies garnished with yoghurt and a papadum. Everything tasted amazing. I’m actually drooling thinking about it.
I got my pizza with “medium” spice and that did quite nicely. Bit of a zing, but not “get me a lassi, my mouth is burning” hot. K found it quite spicey, but I have a pretty good constitution for chilli.
I was too full for dessert, but Kristie decided to get the Punjabi Kulfi, a homemade ice cream made with pistachios and cardoman. I convinced her to give me a taste and holy crap it was good. Creamy, with a mild spice – almost reminded me of a chai latte (but with pistachios). Our waitress told me that her Mum makes the Kulfis at home and then she bring them in to the restaurant. Home made, or what? Nom. Nom. If only I wasn’t so full!
One weird thing about the Kulfi, though, was the shape in which it came. Looks amazing, great presentation – almost impossible to eat!!! Do you eat it like an ice block, or use a spoon or what? We went for both options. I guess it all looks the same in your mouth.
The service at Digress is fantastic. Our waitress was polite and extremely attentive. It was driving me crazy all night, but I knew that I recognised her from somewhere! I could have sworn that she was the waitress from my favourite Indian restaurant, Indian Affair in Philip…and I was right! Indian Affair is a family run business, and I found out later that that their daughter started her own restaurant, Digress, and swindled her younger sister (our waitress) away from her parent’s business. I think that just made me love this place even more!!!
Verdict: In a few words: It’s like a dream come true. Yum. I highly recommend. I hope they get more business, because it would be a shame for their out of the way location to stop people from trying this amazing food. Go. Now.