by Stephanie Williams
17/119 New Town Rd, New Town
My husband has a very deep love of India, nurtured by many trips there. His first trip was as a toddler, and I don’t doubt that one day, when borders and international borders return to a more “normal” situation, we’ll travel there as a family.
In the meantime, we travel via food. Sacred Bites (17/119 New Town Road, New Town) doesn’t profess to serve traditional Indian food. Owner and chef Karan Vinayak does profess to have a deep passion for food, having owned and run a successful restaurant in Launceston and returning to Hobart.
We booked for a Friday night and arrived as the sun was low in the sky and enjoyed the last orange rays from our table. We settled in to a comfortable table, cornered by comfortable banquette seating, perfect position to strategically secure our kids to stay at the table. The l-shaped space is petite and anchored by the bar and kitchen. Wherever the eye rests there is texture and colour – Moroccan style floor tiles, metal panels, timber and gold touches. It’s busy but it all comes together.
Wine lists excite me – recognising names I know always gives confidence in the rest of the list, and a push to try something new. You trust the wine knowledge. The Sacred Bites wine list reads well, with loads of Tasmanian options and very reasonable prices.
The menu features some classic Indian dishes – butter chicken ($21.90), chicken tikka masala ($21.90) and one of my favourites, lamb saag ($23.90). But also dances into “modern” territory with chicken tikka tacos ($15.90) and pulled pork bao buns ($15.90). The dough menu features many options – we go for plain naan ($3.90) and garlic naan ($4.90) but there’s also a range of filled breads, parantha and roti. The menu also features a few fun jokes – “If I have an Indian restaurant I will call it Jack of all trades, master of naan.” Lol.
The kids jump into the tikka tacos, although it’s a good idea to ask for them with no chilli sauce if you don’t like heat, and with some rice and naan, they’re happy. We get excited and definitely over order with butter chicken, lamb saag, naan, rice and kofta palak ($19.90). The kofta is a standout – spiced spinach koftas surrounded by a sweet, creamy tomato gravy. It was a favourite at Karan’s previous restaurant and we both agree there’s no surprise it was a hit. Once the feeding frenzy is over, we have plenty left so we take the rest with us. The staff are very helpful and friendly, always popping by at just the right time, and nothing is too much trouble.
As we rolled back to the car, we all agreed we found a new favourite and can’t wait to return.