Gluten free naan, Indian-style brunch and Bollywood films projected on the wall – these are just some of the things to look forward to when Babu Ji’s sister venue, Piquancy, opens in Hawthorn on April 5th.
When owner, Mani Waraich, realised there was a desire for experimental Indian cuisine in Hawthorn, he decided Auburn Road was the perfect place to open a second venue. Perfectly blending modern with traditional, you can expect the unexpected at Piquancy – everything from the menu to the design has been created to be somewhat “unusual”.
Mani wanted to make sure the name of his newest venue reflected the unusual theme of the space. He decided on Piquancy, meaning spicy or tangy, but don’t worry, the menu won’t be too hot! Rather, the cuisine will be well suited to a Melbourne audience, somewhat mild, yet unmistakably Indian.
As with Babu Ji, the Piquancy menu is seasonal and split into two sections – ‘from the street’ includes entrée style dishes while ‘from the pot’ is a solid line-up of mains. Babu Ji favourites like the signature butter chicken and tandoori chicken will appear on the menu, while new dishes will be introduced alongside an exciting brunch menu.
This daytime menu is more cafe-style than anything Mani and the Babu Ji team has done before, featuring lighter options like Indian-style salads and quinoa biryani. Indian flavours will be carried through into the brunch menu making it an offering unlike anything else in the area.
If you stop by for lunch, be sure to try the slow-cooked curried lamb shanks with mashed potato.
Hawthorn-based coeliacs can also get excited about Piquancy – Mani said around 90% of the delicious menu will be gluten free and of course, Babu Ji’s famed gluten free naan will be a permanent feature.
The food will be lovingly prepared by a kitchen team, overseen by Indian chef, Sandeep – who has been part of the Babu Ji family since the start of the year. While Sandeep is somewhat in charge, Mani likes to avoid pigeon holing his staff, “There is no such thing as head chef here – one person looks after the flavour, another the ingredients and another, the presentation. Everyone has their own role and works together,” said Mani.
When it comes to the drinks, a help-yourself beer fridge featuring 40 craft beers will be a permanent fixture, while an exciting selection of cocktails and a comprehensive wine list, put together by renowned sommelier Jeff Sault, are also set to join the line up.
The design is casual and slightly experimental. Anyone who knows Babu Ji will be familiar with the painting that lights up the street outside the venue. At Piquancy, a new face adorns the light box and yet again, a projector screen plays Bollywood films on rotation inside.
Once it is up and running, Mani hopes to establish cooking classes for adults and children. He hopes people don’t just come to Piquancy to simply sample Indian food but to learn about the flavours, ingredients and story behind each dish.
Piquancy is not simply a restaurant – it has been established to share the potential of Indian food with locals.
If Babu Ji is anything to go by, Piquancy will delight and surprise, providing an exciting dining experience that begins as soon as you enter the door.
Piquancy opens April 5 on Auburn Road, Hawthorn