When three long-time friends – Gaurav, Mukul and Vishal – with a rich shared history in the hospitality industry decided to get together and take over a restaurant, they were out to prove a point. Chimes Indian Restaurant, their proud possession, on the corner of Belmore Road and Balwyn Road speaks volumes about their background. With its sleek contemporary feel, elegant look and a fusion of mouth-watering dishes on its menu, it is a place that symbolises the trio’s passion to please.
To begin with their menu has great variety, authenticity, fusion and taste. It has undergone a few changes since their taking over Chimes and is a product of their background. Gaurav, the proclaimed masterchef of the kitchen, has introduced interesting fusions such as Indo-Italian and Indian dishes with a twist apart from the regular menu. Take Gobi Manjuri, which we relish as one of the entrees, it is not Indo-Chinese but like a tempura. The cauliflower is marinated with spices including soy and vinegar and dusted with corn flour just before frying, explains Gaurav. It is very crispy and tasty. The other entrée, Andhra Chicken, is one of the signature dishes at Chimes. Intrigued, we dig in for more information. This is marinated chicken which is deep fried and tossed in a wok with curry leaves, onions and mustard seeds. Amazing results! Our third entrée is paneer pakaoras called paneer fingers. In that two layers of battered-paneer with chutney made of mint and spinach is placed in between, taking away the general cynicism one would associate with a paneer pakaora.
Recognising the changed demographics of Balwyn over the past years, food at Chimes is also catered for the Indian palate that seeks spicy and flavoursome meals. So for the main course we try Methi Malai Murg cooked with fenugreek leaves, tomato sauce, a touch of cashew sauce and sautéed garlic. Great stuff! It went well with the naan brushed with garlics chives and parsley. We give the Raan a miss and leave that for the second visit. This dish of Chimes is leg of lamb or goat is marinated for 48 hours in not uncomplicated but normal spice, says Gaurav, with a dash of raw papaya juice or pineapple juice, a bit of rum with yoghurt and cooked in the oven. This dish has been met with great reviews and it is one of the reasons why we will go to Chimes again.
For long, the three friends have mulled the idea of opening a restaurant while studying commercial cookery in Australia and gathering experiences in different restaurants in Melbourne. Gaurav has worked with the famous Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Mukul was with the Claridges Hotel, Delhi, and Vishal hails from a family that owns a resort in Nainital. The right time came when Chimes came up for sale last year. Having worked in different places for years, all three bring unique experiences which they are implementing at Chimes with great success.
Gaurav, the main chef, describes the trio’s indispensability thus: “We are like a sandwich, they are the bread I am the chutney, each cannot do without the other and all three are essential for the final product.” Indeed the three are a perfect blend. “While one (Gaurav) excels in commercial cookery, the other (Mukul) perfects the catering operations and the third (Vishal), a people’s person, blends the two with his managerial skills and together they steer the venture ahead towards success,” rightly fortifies their website.
There are few restaurants along Belmore Road which is an impressive representation of Melbourne’s multicultural food scene. “So, there is no competition because we all serve different food,” says Mukul. The team of three has been able to build a body of regular clients and also catering for functions and parties in the 90-plus seating restaurant. Chimes, like the sweet sound of the bells, chimes well in terms of food, ambience and service. The moment you step in you will find yourself at home with the mood-enhancing choice of Bollywood music. Chimes is yet another addition to the number of good Indian restaurants for Melburnians seeking to enjoy a happy moment with friends, families or relatives.
By Indira Laisran