Restaurant Review – Going Afghan

Posted on May 17, 2010

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Afghan Gallery Restaurant

Where? 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, (03) 9417 2430
Prices? Entree: $6-$16, Mains: $14.50-$20.50, Dessert: $5
Payment accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club, American Express and EFTPOS
Licensed with bar. Wine is available by the glass. BYO (wine only) $3.50 corkage per person.

So last week I visited a restaurant which is considered somewhat of an institution in Brunswick St Fitzroy, the ‘Afghan Gallery’.

Writing this review has been a bit of a struggle for me as I’ve been trying to figure out the right angle to look at this from but there really seems no other way than to tell it like it is.

Here’s my dilemma:

This restaurant offered so much promise, it’s been in Brunswick St forever and is always packed!  I’ve often walked past it and even deigned a couple of times to try and eat there but it seems useless without a booking due to it’s popularity.

Naturally I expected great things.

First impressions were pretty good.  The restaurant is decked out in traditional Middle Eastern style with all the colourful laterns, embelished rugs and handmade ornaments to go with.  You feel almost as if you have stepped off the street into a little corner of Afghanistan.

But then you sit down at your table and you wait and you wait and you wait.

Then you order drinks and you wait and you wait.

And then FINALLY one of the three waiters in this packed restaurant comes and takes your order and guess what you do next?  That’s right, wait some more, oh only about 45 minutes for your entrée!

But the disappointment only continued to spiral downwards.  As we were unsure of what to order, we went for what seemed to be the popular choice of the mixed entrée.  This comprised of 2 bean samosa, 2 pieces of grilled eggplant bathed in some sort of tomoato sauce and what look liked a Middle Eastern take on steamed wantons or ravioli even.

The presentation was simple yet colourful and after a total of over an hour of waiting, we couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

But then, the cardinal restaurant sin was committed, the entrée was completely cold.  It was so cold in fact that my boyfriend and I actually pondered whether it was suppose to be a cold entrée!  However, the minutest remnants of heat lead us to believe that this dish had just been left sitting there, like us, waiting 45 minutes to be brought out.

After another good 4o minutes of waiting, which seemed quick compared with the drinks and entrée service, our mains arrived.  We had ordered a lamb qorma, a type of traditional lamb stew with mixed vegetables and a boneless chicken dish cooked in yogurt and herbs, however when the waiter took our order he didn’t actually write it down so there were no surprises when we didn’t receive what we’d ordered.

Chicken Qorma

We were presented with what we believe was the lamb qorma but also a chicken qorma, not chicken cooked in yogurt.  By this stage we were so frustrated and starving we couldn’t be bothered complaining, even if we could get the attention of one of the waiters.

So anyway, the main was actually quite nice and not stone cold like the entrée.  The lamb and chicken were both tender and the sauce was well seasoned.  Once again, like a the Yemeni restaurant, a big basket of spungy dipping bread accompanied the meals and I have to say it was the hero.  I do realise this seems a bit sad that I preferred bread over the meal itself but the food was nothing extraordinary.

The only let down with the bread was that the two dishes we’d ordered were just not saucy enough and didn’t really allow you to mop up your plate with the bread.  It needed to be juicier in order let the soft bread soak up all the flavours.

So that was it basically, the service was terrible, the atmosphere was inviting at first as the traditional decorations act as an impressive novelty and the food, well, had it not been cold would have probably been a lot better.

Taking all of this into consideration, I think I’m being generous giving the Afghan Gallery Restaurant a 2/5.

Ethiopian tonight and I’m praying the service is better!

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