When I conjure up the image of an Indian restaurant, I think of a densely populated, smell-rich place with lots of decorated spaces and overheated diners apologizing to each other by pulling their chairs. Perhaps it’s heavily skewed by my own travels through northern India and experiencing every square inch of space occupied by a human, a smell, a vibrant color…or an animal.
I was therefore relieved, on this very mild stormy night, to discover Gur Taj Collaroy’s restaurant had room between tables to swing a cow (not recommended), all open and airy and spacious enough to encourage large groups and early families to eat like ours.
I had been invited there by Sumit Singh to provide a genuine review of his food. He was sure we would like him and hoped we would spread the word to other locals. The place was buzzing while we were there, and I wondered why he felt he needed more customers given that the place was clearly popular.
But of course, after a few years of confinement and nervous meals, a steady flow may not be enough for many of our local traders. As Sumit stands before us, warm, friendly, excited, with the hint of a wet forehead beneath his turban, I detect a subtle sense of fatigue within him that makes the Gur Taj palace hum.
The restaurant is a family affair, he tells me, pointing to various people who rush in with a purpose, each named a family relationship with themselves.
I took a moment to Sumit and his restaurant, and quietly prayed that I liked his food.
Malai Kofta, a vegetarian specialty from the Gur Taj was a particularly nice and unusual dish. It has a starchy texture like yam, and it is drizzled with a thick almond sauce, topped with fresh cream.
A different vegetable curry of mushrooms, potatoes and peas was less exciting, and failed to fully deliver the flavor and was a little on the small side for the price.
What joy I felt, then, when I took a spoonful of beef vindaloo and was rewarded with a rich salty spicy flavor, which I discovered mellows beautifully with the vegetarian dish that I had just reduced. Of course, I figured Indian food shouldn’t be judged (or eaten) with just one dish. It’s a dance of varying fare that takes you from one direction to another and rattles your senses from left to right Bollywood style.
The various breads (naan) were excellent – fresh and lighter than average with cottage style cheese rather than the thicker cheddar common in food courts – and the tasty fried starters (Bhaji, Pakora, Samosa), offered a great opportunity to sneak a veggie or two into my four year old. All the ingredients were of good quality which is always reassuring where strong spices and ghee could be used to mask imperfections.
The mango lassi was another hit with the kid, and something I enjoyed a few sips between some of the warmer dishes.
Overall the food was good, and would highly recommend it as a place to catch up with friends, especially if there are a few of you to host. But watching my very satisfied husband lean back in his chair and rub his stomach as a post-meal nap began to beckon, I realized he had been even more satiated by the experience than I had been. He’s worked in Indian restaurants before, and this is one of the few kitchens where he’s a much better judge. He is also a harsher critic. But there, semi-comatose, was a very happy man.
“I really enjoyed that,” he said in rare praise. “It was really good. I wish I could eat more.
Gur Taj has been in the area since 1996 and is available for dine-in and take-out.
It is located at 1030 Pittwater Road Collaroy, with parking directly in front.
More information and reservations:
02 9971 2740 0468 889 029
Transparency Check: This is a real diet review; reviewable meals and drinks were provided free of charge for review purposes, and we attended by invitation so it was not anonymous.