The central Sydney outpost of The Colonial (it has siblings in Neutral Bay and Leichardt) is a great place to sample this Indian restaurant’s novel offering. It’s immediately obvious that The Colonial is something different the moment you step through the doors at The Colonial’s Crown Street, Darlinghurst premises – the dining room is modern and stylish, eschewing the usual Indian subcontinental decor for a more clean-lined look. This distinction reflects the innovative menu, staking a claim for rustic and robust Indian cuisine of the kind typical to the historic North-West Frontier Province of British India, now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in modern-day Pakistan. Think succulent and simple tandoori dishes, some served in a shareable tapas style, but all born of age-old recipes from India and Pakistan’s mountainous regions.
A revival is going on at The Colonial’s three Sydney Indian restaurants. Diners in the city are spoilt for choice when it comes to Indian and Indian subcontinental cuisine, so its a real mark of difference when one encounters this Darlinghurst restaurant’s innovative offering, focusing as it does on nineteenth-century and early to mid-twentieth century dishes hailing from the mountainous region of modern day Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The capital of this province is the ancient city of Peshawar, a place that might be known to connoisseurs of Indian and Pakistani food from dishes like lamb seekh kabab and chicken tikka. It’s boldly flavoured, simple tandoori delicacies like this that characterise the culinary creations crafted in The Colonial’s Crown Street kitchen.
Yet another unusual culinary mode is in effect at The Colonial, specifically their tapas-style selections of small plates and platters, a great way to explore the British Indian cuisine on offer. Vegetarian tapas include classic paneer tikka, tandoori mushrooms, and aloo tikki, while non-vegetarian equivalents include the delicious lamb lollipops, seekh kofta, keema samosa, and shrimps Malibu, served with a side of homemade tomato chilli chutney, and masala squid. The Colonial Darlinghurst’s rustic mains are the most evocative of the North-West Frontier Province food that is this Sydney Indian restaurant’s specialty, with the chef’s recommendations covering marinated lamb cutlets, half and whole spiced and marinated chicken, slowly roasted in the clay oven, the signature Railway goat curry, cooked to tender perfection in saffron-infused yoghurt, and the beef balti, a traditionalist’s favourite. No meal at this Crown Street institution would be complete without an order of the celestial dessert called kheer, consisting of rice, milk, and the traditional dairy products of khoya and malaai.
We loved our meal at The Colonial! As a British ex-pat, the idea of 'British Indian' appealed. The portions were generous, the prices were reasonable (mostly $12-15 mains), and it was delicious. The butter chicken was to die for. The railway goat was a surprise hit. The sharing platters for entrée are enough for 2 to share but not more people. The service was attentive and friendly, and the restaurant is quite nicely decorated. Delicious. I'll be back!
Great food! Great service! Friendly staff! Beautiful restaurant! Nice location! Close to Darlinghurst and Kings Cross, I would definitely take a friend here to enjoy this restaurant and highly recommend it to other people who love their Indian food
The food was excellent, they weren't afraid to put a decent level of spice in their curries, which was great. The staff were friendly, if not quite 100% on their game. Great value for money, I will be back.