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Petrie Terrace Welcomes Garlic Clove

By George Hadgelias

When one thinks of Caxton Street and Petrie Terrace, our thoughts typically go to raucous pubs and heaving saloons. Soon, however, folks might consider it as the home of one of Brisbane’s best Indian restaurants. Beloved Gold Coast-born eatery Garlic Clove has expanded to Brisbane, opening a brand-new location just around the corner from Caxton Street. Here, diners can devour serves of creamy curries, sensational street-style snacks and a bounty of biryani. We took a look inside – here’s what we saw …

Throughout his culinary career, chef Sabir Merchant has worked in just about every kitchen imaginable. The talented cuisiner has cooked in fine-dining restaurants and high-volume cafes, for Bollywood superstars and in kitchens at luxury hotels, voraciously learning about as many aspects of hospitality as he could every step of the way. Since arriving in Australia in 2007, Sabir has overseen more than 800 covers a day at Charlie’s Restaurant Bar & Cafe in Surfers Paradise and delivered picture-perfect Italian cuisine at Vanitas at Palazzo Versace, with each stop helping him realise his goal of opening his own restaurant. In 2020 (during the thick of pandemic restrictions) Sabir and his wife Darshnakaur ‘Dolly’ Bhathal opened Garlic Clove in Ormeau Village, a restaurant that saw Sabir return to his roots and showcase his own take on his first culinary love – Indian cuisine – from family recipes to regional specialities. “The vision of Garlic Clove was to give a real prospective of what an Indian restaurant should be,” explains chef Sabir. “We’re not using tinned products, frozen products or just making everything with one or two gravies. Indian cuisine has got multiple mother sauces – we have anywhere between eight to ten mother sauces to make all of our curries.” It’s clear that when it comes to his menu, Sabir is not doing anything by half measures. The approach has paid off, with Garlic Clove’s Gold Coast flagship earning rave reviews from local foodies. Emboldened with supreme confidence in his product and abilities, Sabir has expanded his portfolio further in recent years, opening Italian restaurant Green Olive in Ormeau in 2021 and opening a new Garlic Olive location in Petrie Terrace in early 2023.

Nestled next to Caxton Street Brewing Co., directly across the road from The Barracks, Garlic Clove has slid snugly into the warm, brick-encased site formerly home to Fat Belly Jack’s. Where Garlic Clove’s Ormeau site was a scratch build, here Sabir and Dolly are working with the site’s existing bones, refitting the kitchen and bar but leaving most of the exposed brick and woodwork untouched. What results is a charmingly rustic high-ceilinged space with seating for 80 spread across internal dining area and footpath space, the latter of which boasts prime frontage on one of Brisbane’s busiest intersections. In the kitchen, Sabir is a whirlwind of activity – whipping up a tight and balanced menu that is plated in an artful manner. “My take on Indian cuisine is not just curries – it’s presented a little bit differently,” says Sabir. “Indian cuisine one of the most underrated cuisines in the whole world because of the amount of hard work and fresh products that get used. There are so many spices that we have to balance and ingredients we are blending – it is a very complicated cuisine.” First-time diners are encouraged to order the signature trio of curries, which includes a rich and creamy butter chicken, a north Indian rogan josh and a southern-style fish madras. From there, eaters can explore Garlic Clove’s diverse array of eats, including street-style delights such as pau bhaji (mashed vegetables with a hot buttered home-made bun) and Indo-Chinese-inspired chilli paneer, tandoor dishes like chicken tikka (laced with ginger juice, turmeric, garlic and green chilli), bone-in Awadhi lamb biryanicottage cheese-stuffed spinach kofta served in cashew curry sauce, Mysore chilli beef, and an assortment of salads, sides and breads. Perhaps Garlic Clove’s most impressive dish is its Indian-style high tea – an elegantly tiered spread that features pani puri, aloo tikki chaat, bread pakora, cups of masala chai and glasses of Italian prosecco. Over at the bar, Garlic Clove is pouring local craft beers, an assortment of wines and a clutch of cocktails – everything you’d want to wash down a hearty feast, the kind that leaves you with a blissful look of glazed-eye contentment.

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