Gluten free naan, Indian-style brunch and Bollywood films projected on the wall – these are just some of the things you will find at Babu Ji’s sister venue, Piquancy.
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, 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 theme of the space. He decided on Piquancy, meaning spicy or tangy, but don’t worry, the menu isn’t too hot! Rather, the cuisine is 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 like beetroot marinated paneer and charcoaled lamb served on rosemary skewers, while ‘from the pot’ is a solid line-up of mains. Babu Ji favourites like the signature butter chicken and tandoori chicken appear on the menu, while new dishes sit 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 salad, quinoa biryani and cauliflower rice. Indian flavours are carried through into the brunch menu making it an offering unlike anything else in the area.
Try the eggs with smoked eggplant, beetroot relish and Persian feta served on sourdough toast, or opt for a more fragrant masala omelette stuffed with mint, fresh turmeric and goat’s cheese with wholemeal roti.
If you stop by for lunch, be sure to try the slow-cooked curried lamb shanks with mashed potato, or indulge in a spiced lamb burger filled with beetroot and Indian tzaziki with a healthy serving of masala fries. Vegetarians need not miss out at Piquancy – there are a selection of veggie options, including the braised green pea dahl and the grilled organic tofu served with spinach puree, Greek yoghurt, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
Hawthorn-based coeliacs can also get excited about Piquancy – Mani said around 90% of the delicious menu is gluten free and of course, Babu Ji’s famed gluten free naan is a permanent feature.
The food is 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 is another permanent fixture, while an exciting selection of Indian cocktails and a comprehensive wine list, put together by renowned sommelier Jeff Sault, also 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.
Soon, 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.