When Indian meets Italian

INDIAN and Italian, together. This is what you have to get your head wrapped around when you dine at Digress Restaurant and Lounge.

I don’t mean the menu features separate lists of Indian and Italian dishes. I mean the food is a mix of both cuisine types.

It took “us gaggle of gals” a while to adjust to this unique concept, but once we did, we explored the food offerings with interest.

Digress is on Akuna Street, across the road from the Waldorf Apartment Hotel. You say hello to two regal-looking guardian lion sculptures and walk down the winding, wooden staircase. The lounge is directly at the bottom of the stairs and the more formal restaurant further along. The big bar is in the middle.

We sat in the dining area, admiring the art deco-styled wall of glass separating the two main areas. The rich colours – including royal purple, deep red, brilliant orange and rich gold – add an exotic element to the décor.

The menu features pasta, risotto and pizza, all made with Indian flavours and sauces. The range of naan breads includes one filled with spicy mint chutney and another with raisins, nuts and coconut – good with cold beer and a nice way to relax on the lounge side.

We started with fritters made by combining two traditional and very famous cheeses, Italy’s mozzarella and India’s paneer (getting the picture?). They were crumbed, the two cheeses creamy and the spicy jalapeno aioli delightful ($10).

Pay attention to the chilli symbols on the menu warning of the degree of heat, from mild up to “Indian hot” for those who are brave. I like it hot and wasn’t disappointed with the Tandoor prawn arrabbiata. It’s not a cheap dish ($30.90), but was generous with the prawns and the tandoori tastes predominated.

The chilli chicken fusilli, was created with charcoaled chicken and the sauce with capsicum, onion, tomato and green chillies. It was unusual, but the tastes definitely worked ($23.90). The marinara pizza was disappointing – we wondered about the type of olives used and it just didn’t work somehow.

The dish we agreed captured the essence of Digress the most was the Carbonara Murga ($23.90), tender chicken in a cream sauce served with linguine, crispy bacon and parmesan. It was a light and subtle dish, but a nice blend of Indian tastes.

Digress comes through on its promise to deliver a mix of east and west cuisine. And it definitely stands up to its name – diversion from main focus.

Digress, 11 Akuna Street, Civic, lunch Monday-Friday; dinner Monday-Saturday. Call 6248 6952.

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