Shompen, Carlton, Melbourne
My partner Jamie (@JamieMagikalEatz) was invited to come try out Shompen. It’s a new Indian Fusion restaurant situated in one of the backstreets of the ever popular Carlton. I (Matt!) was of course lucky enough to accompany him.
Walking in I was impressed with the decor and fit out of the restaurant. From the outside Shompen looked a little uninspiring but its a change of scene once you’re in. Setting my eyes on the menu I was instantly excited. The menu was perfectly sized with a good 6-10 dishes to choose from for both Starters & mains I wanted to eat it all. I can sometimes be described as a bit fussy, so for me it’s always a treat when I can do pretty much every dish on the menu.
We started with a couple of items to, share including one of my all time favourites, soft shell crab. Crab! It’s coated in a crunchy base which did make it a little drier than the more standard tempura. However still full of flavour and an enviable texture. The dish was beautifully presented with some great accompaniments too.
We also had a Shompen signature dish called the ‘assembly’ which was a mix of some what I assume are classic Indian starters with a modern twist. To me it was a bit like your classic mixed entree dish with a few separate elements meant to be eaten separately, rather than being a single dish. All the components were good with a big shout out to the southern chilli potatoes. The kick is a little forceful for me (as I’m a chilli wimp) but overall, still delicious, super soft and moreish.
Next onto mains we ordered the beef short ribs (madras style) and the roast rack of lamb. Both were really good dishes with a good balance of flavours. The meat for both was definitely the focus of the dish with minimal accompaniments. For the price, I like the dish, but felt it would have benefitted from side elements to compliment the main focus of the dish. Both were made with the best ingredients with a lot of love and attention. Just that very little something missing to make it a complete dish.
Next on we sampled both the desserts on the menu being the saffron infused yoghurt ice cream and arlette of silk melon. These were both delicious and one of my highlights of the meal. The arlette of silk melon reminded me of a strudel. Soft, warm fruit, complimented by the super crispy pastry. The candied ginger worked well to give it a touch of heat and enhanced the flavour.
The yoghurt ice cream had a rich flavour complimented by one of my favourite things – pistachios. The only downside for this dessert (personal preference) is that I’m not a lover of cardamom. It’s a classic combo but that’s the fussy side of me rearing it’s head!
I enjoyed my time at Shompen. The staff were all extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the food. We caught up with the chef after the meal and could really feel his passion for the restaurant and his dream to bring a flair of India to western cooking techniques and ingredients.