Indigo Restaurant Napier has brought Indian fine dining to the centre of Napier. You’ll meet Louise when arriving at Indigo Napier and being out the front, she plays a key part in this family business. “I wanted to go into hospitality and work in hospitality since I was 14. It’s always been a real passion.” Paul is Louise’s Dad and is also involved in both the restaurant and the cricket scene through the Hawke’s Bay Cricket Association. “We had been going to different Indian places and became good friends with Kamlesh at the Cricket Club”. says Louise. Kamlesh is now the head chef at Indigo Restaurant.
The Indigo building has plenty of history with it’s most recent incarnation as the Kazba, where the 2011 Hospitality after party was hosted. It’s a huge art deco building in an historic part of Napier now serving it’s purpose as a restaurant. “Getting the place done was difficult but really cool watching it transform from what it was to what it is now.” says Louise. “Down to the last detail was up to us”. Louise is pretty proud at how the interior has turned out but they did take some risks. “The restaurant is called Indigo, so we thought let’s add some indigo colour. There was no time for testers, no time to be messing around. We just picked the colours. The blue entrance was a huge wow-surprise for us.” says Louise
Before New Zealand, Louise and her family are from England and have travelled around a lot. “We went to some incredible restaurants in Europe… Spain, Italy, France, a lot of the larger restaurants we went to had booths for groups. Everybody could come in and families had their own space with parents not encroaching on anyone’s space. It’s also more intimate for the 20′s and 30′s crowd too. We added booths because of that.” says Louise. The booths are an inspired choice and make the restaurant cosy and a place to sit back and relax and drop in for a business lunch meeting.
Looking over the bar, there is an enormous selection of whiskey on offer. Indigo has the widest whiskey variety available to sample in Hawke’s Bay. “Much to my despair, my biggest passion is wine” jokes Louise. The whiskey collection is Paul’s own and covers over 135 different unique types some over 40 years old. “It doesn’t interest me as much as the wine though, we’ve got a great wine list. For example, the Te Mata Gamay Noir is something most people haven’t heard of. Gamay Noir is the red’s answer to the aromatics. It’s a different wine and complements the spicy food. It goes well with the lamb, beef and the venison we’ve got at the moment.” says Louise.
Indigo has been serving authentic Indian food for 3 months now and are seeing groups come in and then return with their partners or families. “We now have regulars that now come in every week.” says Louise. “Fridays is busy for takeaways. We’ve also started delivering to Bluff Hill, Ahuriri and out to Napier South; that kind of radius.” says Louise. That’s as far as they like to deliver while still ensuring the naan breads stay fresh. “It’s generally about 30 minutes from call to delivery.” says Louise. “We’ve delivered to parties at houses with 30 people and we’ve chosen 20 or so mains for them. The feedback has been incredible.” says Louise. This family business firmly believes in going the extra mile and have seen how Hawke’s Bay is appreciating it.
Indigo isn’t just a walk in restaurant, but offers home catering for events and will even write up a personal menu for your event given a couple of days notice. The upstairs area of Indigo has been transformed into a corporate functions centre wired up with projector, internet and a private bar. “Already it’s been booked out by a government department and for a banking function.” says Louise.
Kamlesh takes a few minutes out from preparing for the evenings diners to have a quick chat. Kamlesh is the head chef at Indigo and started his
Indian cooking career in India by joining the Grand Hyatt in Delhi back in 1997. I ask Kamlesh about his cooking. “I believe that to learn something it’s good to move around in India. Everywhere is totally different and there’s no age limit for learning.” says Kamlesh. “The chefs I worked with also continued learning and they’re celebrity Top Ten in India now.” I’m making the connection that Kamlesh is proud of what he knows about authentic Indian cuisine. “We can also do modern Indian and we know how to do the authentic Indian cuisine. For example Lamb Nhari is usually small pieces of meat, the twist here is we use lamb shank. It’s our best selling dish.” says Kamlesh.
I’ve tried my fair share of curries both in London and India, so I want to know what makes the delicious Indigo Restaurant style. “Nothing is pre-cooked here. If you are restaurant guests, we cook it from scratch only once you order. It takes a few minutes more but it’s worth it.” says Kamlesh. “Everything is cooked from scratch. We don’t buy from the supermarket, we bring the whole items and I grind it myself. Each curry has a different flavour and so I make my own spices.” says Kamlesh. When I ask about combinations he doesn’t want to give away too much away. “Everyone can cook the food at home, but not many people know the exact combinations of spices to get the right taste and right ingredients in the right amount.” says Kamlesh. “The Vindaloo is very tangy and we know the exact combinations. Authentic means it’s the right way to cook. Slow cooking not fast cook, 5 hours cooking for the Nhari and just slowly simmer. We will feel that it’s very tender – it’s slow meat.” says Kamlesh. “Try it once, you will find it hard to go back.” says Kamlesh. “Even Naan the naan is made fresh while you wait!” adds Kamlesh.
Everyone has their favourite dishes, but if you’re looking to try something different off the menu, here’s three dishes that Kamlesh says you might like to try.
1. Lamb Nhari – Slow cooked 5 hours with the shank.
2. Kashmiri Gustaba. Inside the chopped minced meatballs are 15 types of spices.
3. Roasted Coriander & Tomato Soup. The tomatoes are roasted in the tandoor and cooked fresh while you wait.
If you’ve never tried a lasso drink, there’s two available here. The traditional Mango Lassi is made from curd they make themselves. The more fashionable lassi is called a Masala Lassi and comes with chopped ginger tempered with mustard, curry leaf and black salt. “It’s quite spicy” says Kamlesh. 99% of Indigo Restaurant’s indian spices are made from scratch with one exception. “The pickle is bought. It takes four to five months to make so we do buy that in for now. In future, we’ll do the pickle. The preparation is underway.” says Kamlesh. When your order poppadoms, they come with four different sauce pots including the pickles, mango chutney, onions and mint sauce.
Indigo is a family friendly restaurant and offer a free childs meal with every adult meal till 31st August. There’s mini Indian dishes as well as the less adventurous children favourites of nuggets, burgers and so on. There’s even Indian kids packs in the works to keep the little ones entertained which you enjoy your curry.
Indigo is open seven days and chefs are the chefs are ready to serve from 5pm everyday from restaurant bookings and takeaways. Lunch is also available Thursday through Sunday.
- Authentic means it’s the right way to cook Tweet
- Indigo is a family friendly restaurant with free childs meal with every adult meal till 31st Aug Tweet
- Indigo has the widest whiskey variety available to sample in Hawke’s Bay Tweet